North Texas Daily

Preview: North Texas travels to Florida looking to remain unbeaten in C-USA

Preview: North Texas travels to Florida looking to remain unbeaten in C-USA

October 17
19:20 2017

Coming off a thrilling win last week against the University at Texas at San Antonio, North Texas (4-2, 3-0) faces Florida Atlantic University (3-3, 2-0) at 4 p.m. Saturday in Boca Raton, Florida. As important as last week’s game was, this week marks a battle of two unbeaten teams in Conference USA.

Head coach Seth Littrell is looking to lead the Mean Green to a 5-2 (4-0 C-USA) start.

What to watch for

North Texas slowing the FAU run game

FAU has consistently shown a preference for its run game over the passing attack this season. In their most recent game against Old Dominion University, the Owls had 69 rushing attempts in 91 plays.

While the front seven of the Mean Green is a strength, UTSA had success pounding North Texas with the run and almost came out with a win. With players like senior safety Kishawn McClain and junior linebacker E.J. Ejiya leading the way, the Mean Green expect to get back to holding teams to under four yards per carry – starting this week.

“We have to do a great job up front,” Littrell said. “Like UTSA, [FAU] wants to establish the run. We just have to get back to the fundamentals of wrapping up and getting the ball carrier down.”

Two C-USA unbeaten teams

FAU has defeated Middle Tennessee State University and Old Dominion University to go 2-0 in conference play. The two wins came by 18 and 30 points respectively, showing the conference that they’re not a joke this time around.

The Mean Green, meanwhile, have been through three battles to start the C-USA season. While the three emotional wins built their confidence, fatigue and wear and tear start to build – especially when traveling to Florida for a game.

“One week at a time,” Littrell said. “That’s been our message, culturally. Be the most excited team to play and that doesn’t just start on Saturday. Just continuing to focus on one week.”

More than just “Fine”

Leading the game-winning touchdown drive was the icing on the cake for sophomore quarterback Mason Fine in last weekend’s win over UTSA. Fine leads the conference in passing yards and has completed nearly 62 percent of his passes while doing so.

Fine’s main target, sophomore Jalen Guyton leads the conference in receiving yards with 626 in six games.

The FAU secondary has forced 10 interceptions in six games, and while neither the run or pass defense looks poor on paper, they do not have the players in the front seven that UTSA had last week to really force the Mean Green’s high powered offense out of its rhythm. 

“[We want to] just keep that momentum on our side,” Fine said. “Keep practicing hard, don’t get complacent, just go out there and work everyday and stick to the gameplan. That’s what we plan to do.”

Littrell vs. Lane Kiffin 

Lane Kiffin is in his first season back as a head coach and is starting to adjust to the personnel he’s been handed. Everyone is aware of his past jobs and his experiences, especially with his most recent position as the offensive coordinator for Alabama.

A creative coach at home could present problems for the Mean Green. While Littrell is bringing the same mindset he does into every game, a win over a coach with the resume of Kiffin certainly would do wonders for a resume of his own.

More importantly, North Texas would move to 4-0 in the conference, which fits more into Littrell’s long-term goals. 

“I know a little bit about [Kiffin],” senior running back Jeffery Wilson said. “But I believe in our defense to step up and do what they need to do.”

Score predictions: 

Matt Brune: North Texas 44, FAU 38

Brady Keane: North Texas 38, FAU 28

Featured Image: North Texas safety Kishawn McClain (6) and cornerback Eric Jenkins (2) celebrate after forcing a fourth down against the University of Texas at San Antonio. 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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