North Texas Daily

Preview: Mean Green looks to spoil homecoming in Ruston

Preview: Mean Green looks to spoil homecoming in Ruston

November 01
22:33 2017

As the sole leader of the Conference USA West division, North Texas (5-3, 4-1) travels to Ruston, Louisiana at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday to take on Louisiana Tech University (4-4, 2-2). Both teams have been pushed to the wire in recent games and for North Texas, this marks the first shot at clinching a bowl berth this season.

What to watch for

Homefield disadvantage?

Let’s start with the flukiest of numbers in this series between two schools that have faced off 15 times in its history. The road team has a 10-5 record, as North Texas is 5-4 in Ruston and Louisiana Tech is 5-1 in Denton.

Considering the Mean Green are 1-3 on the road this season, this could be a pivotal game to prove they can win outside of Apogee Stadium. Louisiana Tech is 2-2 at home this season, but it will be their homecoming on Saturday. This is the Mean Green’s first away game since the Florida Atlantic University throttling, and they’re hoping to learn from that experience.

“You can learn a lot from games like that,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “It’s never easy, but I think our team has grown from that in understanding you have to be focused every single week. Playing on the road you have to take it to another level.”

The Bulldogs’ balanced offense vs. North Texas’ defense

The Bulldogs have rushed the ball 285 times this year and passed it 265 times. Their offense is extremely balanced with multiple running backs who can move the sticks and a quarterback in J’Mar Smith who is averaging a respectable 245 yards per game. Smith is completing 56.6 percent of his passes.

Of 24 Louisiana Tech touchdowns, 13 have been runs and 11 have come through the air. This ability to keep defenses off balance, especially in the red zone, bodes well for the Bulldogs. They enter averaging nearly 30 points per game.

“They’re very consistent,” Littrell said. “They’re able to play fast and make adjustments. We’re going to have to be way more consistent than we’ve been in the past.

Battle of the third quarter

While North Texas has not been good in the third quarter this season, Louisiana Tech has actually been worse. The Mean Green have been outscored 84-54 in the quarter following halftime but the Bulldogs have been outscored 58-21.

North Texas allows a ton of points, while Louisiana Tech rarely scores in the third frame. This could be the difference in the game so it will be worth keeping an eye on.

“It’s just being consistent,” sophomore quarterback Mason Fine said. “I think we lose focus when we get comfortable.”

Taking pressure off Fine

Fine now has eight interceptions on the season, and he’s thrown three in the last two games. While he has not been bad by any stretch of the imagination in those games, he faces another fairly arduous task of attacking a defense that has forced 11 interceptions through eight games.

Fine will need running back Jeffery Wilson to return to form after a rough week for the senior from Elkhart, Texas. Wilson can easily open up the game for this North Texas offense.

“In this conference, everyone is pretty evenly matched,” Wilson said. “It’s just who’s going to be more focused and who’s going to be the aggressor. It can be a bad game for whoever doesn’t come out with their head on straight.”

Score predictions

Matt Brune, senior sports writer: North Texas 41, Louisiana Tech 35

Brady Keane, sports editor: North Texas 49, Louisiana Tech 45

Featured Image: North Texas sophomore quarterback Mason Fine (6) receives a snap against Old Dominion University. Colin Mitchell

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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