North Texas Daily

Troy takes advantage of North Texas’ inconsistent defense in runaway win

Troy takes advantage of North Texas’ inconsistent defense in runaway win

December 16
18:46 2017

Late in a game against Old Dominion University on Sept. 28, the North Texas defense made four consecutive stops to help the Mean Green win the game 45-42. Against the University of Southern Miss, the same defense allowed only seven points in the second half en route to another victory. 

The North Texas defense has played through a few more great stretches like those mentioned, showing what their potential ceiling could be as a unit. But far too often the defense has come up short and struggled.

Head coach Seth Littrell harped on the team’s consistency all year long. And once again, the defense failed to put together a solid 60 minutes, leading to a 50-30 loss to Troy University in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

“In the first half we did some good things, got some good stops,” Littrell said. “They were put in two really tough spots when we turned it over on our own side, [but] overall we have to be more consistent as a football team moving forward.”

The Trojans ended the game with 435 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per play. Senior quarterback Brandon Silvers completed 24-of-31 passes.

Troy did all of this with its starting running back and had two leading receivers out and unavailable.

“They’re a good offense,” Littrell said. “Once you get back on your heels and they start making plays and start moving the chains. We have to be able to get off the field on third downs. We have to be much better.”

One reason they were able to get going was the ease Silvers had sitting in the pocket and delivering his throws. The Mean Green had just one sack and Silvers always seemed in rhythm as he hit his receivers as soon as they broke on their routes. The four-year starter completed his first 11 throws in his final collegiate game. 

 “[Their offensive line] had a lot of good movement a lot of back releases, a lot of things to keep you honest, keep you on your toes,” senior linebacker Joshua Wheeler said. “We had to be smart about when we take our shots to put pressure on the quarterback and when we did we had to make it count and a lot of times we didn’t make them count.”

Defensive backs Eric Jenkins, Ashton Preston and Kemon Hall struggled to slow down the Trojan’s primary receivers, especially Damion Willis, who had a monster game in the win. Willis had 11 catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns. 

The secondary had a tough season from start to finish and their inconsistent play Saturday afternoon led to another big night for the opposing offense. 

“We got beat on big plays,” senior safety Kishawn McClain said. “[We didn’t] make plays on the ball when the ball was in the air so we have to do that. This is division one football, make plays on the ball, be an athlete and we came up short and let too many big plays happen in the secondary.”

The defense was put in bad situations on a few occasions due to turnovers, but was unable to put up adequate resistance against a hampered Troy offense.

The Trojans’ 50-point outing was the second most points the team scored this season. Troy only scored more points against Texas State and finished with 20 points more than its season average. 

“We respect their whole offense,” McClain said. “Those guys [who stepped in for them] made big plays, did what their coaches told them to do and made it count.”

 Featured image: North Texas senior linebacker Joshua Wheeler (18) jumps over a Troy player. 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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