North Texas Daily

North Texas football bogged down by defense

North Texas football bogged down by defense

North Texas football bogged down by defense
October 08
02:00 2015

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

Through four weeks of the 2015 season, the North Texas football team is 0-4 and has been outscored 180-67.

The historically bad start prompted ESPN to rank North Texas dead last earlier this week in its weekly college football power index, placing 128th out of 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

But with the offense averaging 365 yards per game, it has been the defense putting North Texas into a big hole in every game so far this season. Opponents are averaging 45 points and 516.75 yards per game against North Texas, which is 376 yards per game more than the top ranked defense in the country, Boston College University.

It’s an alarming trend that head coach Dan McCarney said cannot continue if his squad wants any chance at winning games.

“It’s pretty obvious the stats are ridiculously poor right now,” McCarney said. “But we aren’t executing. We have too many missed tackles, too many blown assignments. I don’t have an issue with our scheme at all. It’s executing our scheme that we’re having a problem with.”

One of the biggest issues the team has faced defensively has been getting off the field on third down. North Texas has allowed the opposition to convert on 60 percent of its third down attempts, the worst percentage in all of FBS.

Even worse, opposing quarterbacks facing third down of more than seven yards have completed 87.5 percent of their passes, 15 having gone for a first down and four having gone for a touchdown.

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North Texas junior defensive end Jarrian Roberts (30) tries to tackle the Rice senior quarterback Driphus Jackson (6). Ryan Vance | Senior Staff Photographer

First year defensive coordinator Chris Cosh said if he could attribute the defensive struggles to one thing, the inability to get off the field on third down would be it.

“It’s put us in some really bad situations,” Cosh said. “Sometimes it forces us to work with a short field, and more importantly it gives the guys extra reps and they get tired. They get gassed.”

Before the season began, the Mean Green lost senior defensive back Kenny Buyers for the year to a back injury that required surgery. Not only did this remove North Texas’ best member of the secondary, it also created a void in leadership on the field.

In Buyers’ absence, the Mean Green have surrendered 286.75 passing yards and nearly three receiving touchdowns per game,

“Kenny’s a great leader,” Cosh said. “Anytime you lose a guy like that it affects your team. But it’s just been the next man up. That’s how it is.”

But the “next man up” theory has not provided positive results.

North Texas is ranked last in Conference USA in total defense and has allowed an even more staggering amount of yards on the ground than through the air. The Mean Green has allowed a 100-yard rusher in every game this season, giving up an average of 230 rushing yards per contest.

Sophomore linebacker Calvin Minor said the team has been working on specific techniques in practice to help combat the struggles against the run.

“Tackling, that’s been the biggest thing,” Minor said. “Wrapping guys up, driving them back, and making sure we stay on top of them at the line.”

Adding to its struggles has been North Texas’ inability to win the turnover battle. McCarney’s squad is currently minus four in the turnover margin, a statistic that has caused the offense to work even harder to produce points.

“We aren’t getting enough right now, and that’s been pretty clear if you watched us play,” McCarney said. “We have to do a better job of creating chances for our offense and getting takeaways.”

Going into its homecoming game against Portland State University, a Football Championship Subdivision school, North Texas is listed by Las Vegas odds makers as a one-point underdog. Typically FBS schools are favored over FCS opponents, but a winless record for the Mean Green and the Vikings coming in at 3-1 tipped the scales toward the visitors.

Minor did not take too kindly to learning of the Mean Green’s underdog status.

“I didn’t even know we were an underdog until you just told me. Wow, yeah, that does bother me,” Minor said. “That does upset me.”

McCarney said for the team to improve immediately, each player needs to compete with a chip on their shoulder.

But the leader of the maligned North Texas defense feels the team has plenty of incentive already to get the team back on track.

“We’re all plenty motivated,” Cosh said. “We all want to get the first win. That’s motivation enough.”

Featured Photo: Mean Green defensive coordinator Chris Cosh throws a ball to defensive players as part of a drill. Ryan Vance | Senior Staff Photographer

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