North Texas Daily

North Texas reboots for first road game of the year against Middle Tennessee

North Texas reboots for first road game of the year against Middle Tennessee

North Texas reboots for first road game of the year against Middle Tennessee
October 17
12:27 2020

The North Texas Mean Green (1-3, 0-2 Conference USA) travel to Murfreesboro for their first road game on Saturday against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (1-4, 1-2 C-USA). Middle Tennessee was one of the three conference wins North Texas had in 2019, defeating the Blue Raiders 33-30.

The Mean Green continue to seek their first conference win after being defeated by the Charlotte 49ers (1-2, 1-1 C-USA) 49-21 last week. North Texas struggled offensively in the red-zone, on third-down conversions and missed three field goals. Last week’s offensive performance was the fewest points they’ve scored through four games.

Head coach Seth Littrell said he was less than satisfied with the offensive performance against Charlotte.

“Offensively we were below average in my opinion, I didn’t like much about it,” said Littrell. “We executed some good things and I thought Darden had a good game but other than that we were pretty pitiful inside the red-zone. It is what it is, we just have to execute better and finish better in the red-zone.”

Littrell explained how the game against Middle Tennessee will be a physical game and the team will have to win individual battles on both sides of the ball in order to have success.

Middle Tennessee’s three conference matchups have been one-possession games that were either won or lost within three points. The Blue Raiders lost to UTSA (3-2, 1-1 C-USA) 37-35, lost to Western Kentucky (1-3, 1-1 C-USA) 20-17 and most recently beat Florida International (0-2, 0-1 C-USA) 31-28.

Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Stockstill is ready for another close battle this week against North Texas.

“This will be a fourth-quarter game, and if we think anything different than that, we’re crazy,” Stockstill said. “This is a good football team coming in here and I’m excited to coach this week just like our players are excited to play this week.”

The Blue Raider offense is led by junior quarterback Asher O’Hara who leads the team in rushing. In the win against Florida International, O’Hara ran for 106 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 23 completions on 41 attempts and two touchdowns.

In the span of five games, O’Hara rushed 93 times for 328 yards and four touchdowns. He rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown against the Mean Green in 2019. 

Senior wide receiver Jarrin Pierce is the team’s leading receiver with 36 receptions for 366 yards and a touchdown coming into Saturday’s contest.

The Mean Green won 2019’s contest against the Blue Raiders with a perfect performance from senior kicker Ethan Mooney. Mooney was 3-for-3 on extra points and 4-for-4 on field goals, one of them being the game-winner.

Mooney missed three field goals in last week’s contest against Charlotte. His performance prompted the senior to post a response on his Twitter account after the conclusion of the loss to the 49ers. 

“I’m only human,” Mooney said in a tweet.

While special teams struggled last week, Littrell says it has been inconsistent on all aspects of the game for the Mean Green.

Littrell is confident Mooney will bounce back and correct his mistakes from his performance against Charlotte.

“He’s been very consistent in the past and he had a rough game,” Littrell said. “As a kicker, you’re never really talked about until you start missing them and that’s just part of it.”

North Texas was 1-for-4 on offensive red-zone possessions and 3-for-13 on third-down conversions last week against Charlotte.

It was sophomore quarterback Austin Aune’s first game officially named as the team’s starting quarterback moving forward. Aune threw the ball 43 times with 23 completions, 382 yards and three touchdowns.

Aune looks forward to getting that first conference win.

“The first one is always the most important,” Aune said. “We’ll get the first one here this week and continue some momentum through the rest of the conference.”

Aune is confident the offense will correct their mistakes from the previous week, and finish drives in the red-zone.

Despite the offensive struggles, senior wide receiver Jaelon Darden had a career night with 244 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Darden’s performance earned him a spot on the All PFF College Football Team of the Week.

“It’s awesome to have him out there,” Aune said. “If they guard him 1-on-1, you want to give him the ball as much as you can, and even when he’s soaking up two guys defending him, he opens up a lot of windows for other receivers.”

Darden is four touchdowns away from passing Ron Shanklin as the number one receiver in school history for career-receiving touchdowns.

Shanklin currently holds the record with 31 touchdowns when he played from 1967 to 1969.

The game is slated for kickoff at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Featured Image: Mean Green players celebrate after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against Charlotte on Oct. 10, 2020. Image by Zachary Thomas

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Jarrett Farley

Jarrett Farley

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