North Texas Daily

Roundtable: Mean Green football midseason review

Roundtable: Mean Green football midseason review

North Texas freshman quarterback Mason Fine (6) takes the ball after the snap. Fine ended the game with 206 yards passing and 49 yards rushing. Colin Mitchell

Roundtable: Mean Green football midseason review
October 14
14:52 2016

Editor’s note: With half the season gone, the North Texas Daily sports staff has reviewed and analyzed the Mean Green football team through six games. 

Who or what on the team has impressed you most to date and why?

Reece Waddell: It has to be Mason Fine. Who would have thought that coming into the season a true freshman who struggled to get FBS offers out of high school would be starting over a two-time national champion from Alabama? Granted, Alec Morris only saw a handful of snaps and never started, but still. The sheer fact Littrell had the guts to bench the fifth-year senior, burn Fine’s redshirt, and play him as a freshman took a heck of a lot of courage. Fine has lived up to the billing, though. In six outings and five starts, he has only turned the ball over twice.

Clay Massey: Defense has been one of the most impressive things about the Mean Green so far. Kishawn McClain keeps forcing turnovers, and the Mean Green have cut opponent scoring in half.

Matt Brune: The obvious answer is Jeffrey Wilson. He is one of only eight running backs in the NCAA to average over 6 yards per carry with over 90 attempts. However, I’ve been equally impressed with the secondary on this team, not only in wins but in losses. To be more specific, the Middle Tennessee game showed me a lot as they held that aerial attack to 24 completions on 45 attempts and forced an interception.

Courtney Anderson: Mason (too) Fine. I’m always impressed when a true freshman or rookie makes a breakthrough and beats out the seniority of the team for the starting position. He continues to improve each week.

Austin Jackson: Seth Littrell. I know I know, It’s a cop-out. But the improvement from this year to last year is across the board, and it all starts at the top. From bringing in defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler, who’s cut down opponent scoring average by nearly two touchdowns, to trusting the quick release and mobility of freshman quarterback Mason Fine to lead his offense over the experience of Alec Morris, Littrell has pressed all the right buttons.

Trevon McWilliams: Mason Fine. His poise and leadership on the field are tremendous. He has complete control of the offense and in big situations, has come through time in and time out.

 What is the team’s biggest problem or weakness?

Waddell: The offensive line. It’s been a puzzle all year for Littrell to find the right guys, and so far they have gotten by. Inconsistency, however, may cost North Texas down the stretch. One week the Mean Green rush for five yards and give up a handful of sacks, and the next week they rush for over 200 yards. So your guess is as good as mine in terms of what version of this unit we’ll see from week to week.

Massey: The offense’s consistency continues to turn on and off. Fine and the crew need to be able to replicate success and sustain it. They all agree and have said on several occasions when the offense is firing on all cylinders, they’re hard to stop.

Brune: It’s one thing to give up seven sacks to one of the best defenses in the country in Florida. It’s another to give up five sacks to a bad Rice team. The offensive line is mostly at fault, as they are still shuffling guys around halfway through the season, but Fine is not helping them as he occasionally begins to scramble before he needs to, which leads to sacks.

Anderson: I think the real “weakness” is that North Texas has not beaten a tough school. Marshall was the most exciting win we’ve probably experienced all year, but they’re a 1-4 team and not that impressive on paper. This team needs a signature win.

Jackson: Pass protection. Mason Fine has improved the Mean Green’s offense but for all the efficiency they’ve provided to the running game, the offensive line could do more in terms of keeping Fine’s uniform clean. Over the past four games the Mean Green offensive line has given up 21 sacks and no matter how tough the quarterback is, the kind of beating Fine has taken is just not sustainable long term.

McWilliams: Pass Defense. North Texas has a decent front seven, but its back four could use some work, especially in the red zone.

North Texas sophomore linebacker Brandon Gamer (37) tackles MTSU senior running back I'Tavius Mathers (4). Mathers ran for 140 yards on 24 carries. Colin Mitchell

North Texas sophomore linebacker Brandon Gamer (37) tackles MTSU senior running back I’Tavius Mathers (4). Mathers ran for 140 yards on 24 carries. Colin Mitchell

How will the team finish out the season?

Waddell: North Texas seems to be hitting its stride at the perfect time. They picked up a great win against Marshall before their bye week, and I think they will surprise some people. So here comes a prediction I never thought I would write a few months ago, and especially last year when I covered the team: The Mean Green will finish the year 8-5 and win a bowl game. Yep, that felt a little weird, as expected.

Massey: The game against Marshall made me feel really good about the future of this season. If the Mean Green can knock off Army, it has to beat one of the better teams in the West in Louisiana Tech or Southern Miss. Both games are at home, which is very doable. The Mean Green go bowling at 6-6.

Brune: After letting last week’s impressive win settle in, I realized North Texas’ three wins are against teams that are a combined 1-13. With that being said, I did like the way that the Mean Green played in two the losses to Florida and Middle Tennessee. I believe it’ll stay in most games and be competitive, so I’ll give the Mean Green wins over UTSA and UTEP at least, putting it at 5-7. That would be an incredible season.

Anderson: I think the team will pull out a few more wins before the season is over, but I don’t want to get my hopes up about a bowl game. I’ll stick with my original prediction and say North Texas will finish 5-7.

Jackson: 7-6. Yeah, baby, that’s right. Everybody needs to put their bowling shoes on because this team is winning an obscure bowl game. The remaining contests on the road against quality opponents are a smidge dubious considering the games they’ve won have come against opponents with a combined 1-13 record, but who cares? Last I checked, they still have Eric “the best damn punter in the whole damn state” Keena. If Trevor Moore starts a brawl, this team might go undefeated the last half of the season.

McWilliams: I think the Mean Green finish the season above .500 and win a bowl game.

Featured Image: North Texas freshman quarterback Mason Fine (6) takes the ball after the snap. Fine ended the game with 206 yards passing and 49 yards rushing. Colin Mitchell

About Author

Reece Waddell

Reece Waddell

Reece Waddell was the Editor-in-Chief of the North Texas Daily from May 2017 to December 2017. He previously served as the Sports Editor and Senior Sports Writer. Reece also worked at The Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV.

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1 Comment

  1. Kennel Up
    Kennel Up October 16, 04:07

    In spite of playing three cream puff teams, the “Air Raid Offense” is passing for under 200 yards per game. At best we end up 4-8. We are one injury away from 3-9. Burning Mason Fine’s redshirt was a mistake. He should have sat and bulked up while linemen were recruited.

    Reply to this comment

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