North Texas Daily

Mean Green host Owls for final home game

Mean Green host Owls for final home game

Mean Green host Owls for final home game
November 15
12:19 2018

North Texas (7-3, 3-3 Conference USA) will face the Florida-Atlantic Owls (5-5, 3-3 C-USA) at Apogee Stadium on Thursday night in its final home game of the 2018 season.

The Mean Green will not only try to rebound from their third loss on the season but will look to square things with Florida Atlantic after the Owls swept North Texas last year in two games for the C-USA championship title.

Last week, North Texas faced their third loss, falling 28-0 to a one-win Old Dominion team. The Mean Green were leading the Monarchs 28-10 at halftime before being outscored 24-3 in the second half. North Texas has been outscored 49-9 in the second half of their losses this season.

“We need to coach better and play better,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “I think sometimes we try to play too perfect, and when we do that, we end up losing our composure. It’s my job to get points on the board, and it’s our job to play to win instead of playing to not lose. We need to continue to get better.”

Under Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffen, the Owls are currently leading C-USA in offensive yards per game, averaging a total of 476.5 yards. Most of the team’s yardage comes from its two-headed running attack, comprised of redshirt junior Kerrith Whyte and junior running back Devin Singletary. They are the C-USA leaders in rushing yards (2801), attempts (527), touchdowns (34) and yards per carry (5.3).

“To be honest, I don’t care about [Kiffen’s offensive success],” junior safety Khairi Muhammad said. “I respect them as an opponent, but I definitely have a chip on my shoulder after what they did to us last year. We have unfinished business with [Florida Atlantic] despite their record and our record. I’m coming in hungry and so is my team.”

Muhammad currently has 48 tackles, three interceptions, five pass break-ups, a forced fumble, a recovered fumble and a quarterback hurry in 10 games, all starting. Despite Florida Atlantic’s No. 1 conference ranked offense, their strong point lies within the running game. North Texas is ranked No. 4 in C-USA and No. 12 nationally against the run, having only allowed 1,035 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns this season.

The Mean Green have allowed two 100-yard rushers: Alabama-Birmingham’s Spencer Brown, who carried 25 times for 100 yards and Incarnate Word’s Ra’Quanne Dickens, who had 139 yards rushing. Florida Atlantic running back Devin Singletary — who already has 1,287 yards rushing this season — will get the start in this matchup with the Mean Green. He’ll be in front of running back Kerrith Whyte, who has had an effective season as a second-stringer with 837 yards rushing on the season and averaging 7.1 yards per carry.

“They have the two best backs in the conference, so we really have to be disciplined on defense,” redshirt senior linebacker Brandon Garner said. “It’s not about what they do but about how we attack and communicate as a defense — the same way we did at the beginning of the season.”

This season, Garner is second on the Mean Green in tackles with 55, has 13.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, a fumble recovery, two pass break-ups and eight quarterback hurries. He also has 30 career tackles for loss — fifth-best in program history and just three behind teammate E.J. Ejiya.

The Mean Green offense looks to continue living up to their conference-leading passing attack against Florida Atlantic. The Owls are ranked No. 11 in C-USA against the pass. After a career game last week against Old Dominion (145 yards and two touchdowns), sophomore running back Deandre Torrey will once again look to emphasize his ability to run the ball against a Florida Atlantic team, which is ranked No. 8 against the run in C-USA.

According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, North Texas is favored to win by 76 percent, leaving Florida-Atlantic as the underdog with a 24 percent chance to win. This game will be aired on CBS Sports Network at 8:30 pm CST on Thursday, Nov. 15.

Featured Image: North Texas junior Michael Lawrence runs the ball in a game against Rice on Oct. 27 at Apogee Stadium. Sara Carpenter

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Matt Suarez

Matt Suarez

Sports Editor

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