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North Texas football rejuvenated following bye week

North Texas football rejuvenated following bye week

North Texas football rejuvenated following bye week
November 07
18:35 2018

Nine weeks into the football season, North Texas football headed into their bye week. The coaching staff dedicated this week for players to get their bodies right and get an extended look at their next opponent, Old Dominion. The Mean Green are currently 7-2 (3-2 Conference USA), with three games left in the season.

As the season went along, practices began to scale down for the Mean Green, but head coach Seth Littrell thought the bye week was the perfect opportunity to get this team going.

“As you go through the season and the more practices you get, […] the more you have to start cutting [practice] time because at times you’re trying to keep guys healthy and keep guys fresh so some of your fundamental periods are going to get away,” Littrell said. “We’re going back to basics, hitting the reset button and just running our normal stuff and making sure we get good reps.”

Senior receiver Michael Lawrence thought the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time.

“We were nine weeks in, and everyone was kind of bruised and roughed up, so it was nice to have that week off and recover our bodies, and Coach Littrell made it perfect for us,” Lawrence said. “We had two days off, got to go back home, see our families [and] relax. It was really nice to go home, and just have football off our minds for a couple [of] days.”

Lawrence said that he spent a lot of time watching other college football games, something players typically due on their week off. Two games in particular stood out to the Biletnikoff Award List finalist.

“I watched the [Texas Tech/Oklahoma] game, and it was pretty surprising that Tech hung with them    even when their quarterback got hurt,” Lawrence said. “Also the Alabama/LSU game. I wish LSU made it a game, but you know how that goes.”

One of the players who needed the week off was redshirt sophomore running back Nic Smith. Smith missed the team’s previous game against Rice due to an undisclosed injury. While he didn’t say what the injury was, Smith assured that he feels better heading into this week’s game.

“I feel great,” Smith said. “I got my legs back under me from the bye week. I’ve just been consistent at  going to the treatment room and getting healthier.”

Since coming off the bye week, junior safety Khairi Muhammad could see a difference in the defense’s approach and energy coming into practice.

“The guys got the chance to get their feet back under them, and it showed today in practice,” Muhammad said. “We had a lot of turnovers today, lots of energy and people, were just moving around faster and looking better.”

After playing for nine weeks straight, Muhammad still believes there are areas to focus on when it comes to the defensive unit.

“[We are] just getting that swagger back, running to the ball, being tenacious and violent — just competing 10 times harder than we did before,” Muhammad said

The Mean Green have three games remaining on the season, including their upcoming road game against Old Dominion Saturday, Nov. 10. North Texas will then return on a short week to face Florida Atlantic on Thursday, Nov. 15. In the team’s regular-season finale, their hopes of returning to the C-USA Championship Game rest in San Antonio against Texas-San Antonio.

Littrell hopes his team finishes this final three-game stretch strong but finds it important that the team takes it one week at a time.

“We understand how important these next three games are, and it starts off with Old Dominion,” Littrell said. “They’re a very good football team, and they’re still the same team that beat Virginia Tech by 14 points. They’re very dangerous and can beat anybody in the conference. We understand they’ll be a great challenge for us, but our guys are excited to get back out and really focus and lock in while maximizing our opportunities this week.”

Featured image: North Texas junior Mason Fine runs the ball in a game against Rice on Oct. 27 at Apogee Stadium. Sara Carpenter

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Deondre Jones

Deondre Jones

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