North Texas Daily

Preview: Mean Green ready to avenge blowout loss to FAU

Preview: Mean Green ready to avenge blowout loss to FAU

November 29
18:45 2017

Florida Atlantic University and North Texas meet again at 11 a.m. Saturday, this time in the Conference USA championship game in Boca Raton, Florida. When these teams met in mid-October, FAU dismantled the Mean Green 69-31.

What to watch for

Kiffin’s offense looking to repeat performance

This is a high-powered offense that averages 39.8 points per game. Running back Devin Singletary has rushed for 1,632 yards on 249 carries for 26 touchdowns in a run-heavy attack, and the Owls have 1,000 more rushing yards than passing yards this season.

Head coach Lane Kiffin is a fun guy who has enjoyed his first year away from Alabama at a smaller school. North Texas’ defense will once again have its hands full.

“It was a humbling experience when we went to Florida,” junior linebacker E.J. Ejiya said. “We had to just put our head down and keep moving forward and block out the distractions each week to get better.”

North Texas sophomore wide receiver Jalen Guyton celebrates after a catch in a game against the University of Texas at San Antonio on October 14 at Apogee Stadium. North Texas defeated UTSA 29-26. Sara Carpenter

North Texas’ injury report

Senior running back Jeffery Wilson is still out, but sophomore receiver Jalen Guyton will be back after missing last week’s game against Rice. He took a big hit to the head against Army and was in concussion protocol.

In place of Wilson and Guyton, freshman running back Nic Smith and senior wide receiver Turner Smiley posted solid outings last week against Rice. Smith will continue to bear the bulk of the carries as the primary back and looks forward to another challenge.

“My body is good and I’m just looking forward to [more] carries,” Smith said. “The way we work every day will carry over to the game and as long as we come to play, that’s what it will come down to.”

Can the Mean Green bounce back offensively?

This is a meeting of two of the top 17 scoring offenses in the FBS for a reason. While the North Texas defense cannot allow 11 straight scoring drives, the offense cannot only score 17 points in the first three quarters this time around.

Sophomore quarterback Mason Fine admitted he was playing hesitantly in the last game against FAU, but the offense has its confidence at a new high after ending the regular season on a strong note.

“We got down early [last time], so we kind of got out of our game plan,” Fine said. “We need to take care of the ball, do our job and not try to do too much. I just need to go out there, play loose, have fun and let it fly.”

Kiffin vs. Littrell: Part II

North Texas head coach Seth Littrell and his team looked overwhelmed in their last trip to Boca Raton, while Kiffin looked like an unstoppable mastermind. While both of these offensive coaches will have their teams prepared, the game could come down to one or two decisions Saturday morning.

Kiffin has the experience, but Littrell has not been anything short of spectacular in his second season at North Texas.

“At the end of the day, competing for a championship is the biggest motivation,” Littrell said. “That’s something we’ve talked about since we’ve been here.”

Score predictions:

Senior Staff Writer Matt Brune: Florida Atlantic 49, North Texas 48

Sports Editor Brady Keane: Florida Atlantic 42, North Texas 35

Featured Image: Junior linebacker Brandon Garner takes the field before North Texas’ game against Southern Methodist University on Sept. 9. The Mean Green fell to SMU 54-32. Sara Carpenter

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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