By Craig Fields
North Texas Mean Green vs. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Saturday – November 21 – 11:00 am CT
Floyd Stadium – Murfreesboro, Tennessee
In what has been a season to forget, the North Texas Mean Green (1-9) will travel to Tennessee to take on the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (5-5) in what will be the Mean Green’s final road game of the season.
They have not fared well on the road this season going 0-6 so far. Unfortunately, this game does not look like it is going to go the Mean Green’s way either. And here are a few reasons why…
- Middle Tennessee’s Passing Offense
The Blue Raiders are led by their pass first ask questions later approach. Quarterback Brent Stockstill has had a very good season completing 65 percent of his passes, passing for over 3,000 yards, 23 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions.
He is a true pocket passer and really wants to get the ball out to his targets on the outside. He makes good decisions with the ball and understands when he should try to make a play and when he shouldn’t.
Unfortunately for the Mean Green, they have to make sure that he does not leave the stadium with a clean jersey. And that has been an area where they have struggled this season. They have only managed 15 sacks in 10 games, good for 103rd in the FBS.
Not to mention the fact that Middle Tennessee has only given up 12 sacks this season. They have one of the best offensive lines in football.
- Middle Tennessee’s Wide Receivers
The Blue Raiders have two wide receivers that are not huge, not the fastest, or probably even the best in Conference USA. But they get open. And they get open a lot.
Stockstill needs receivers to throw the ball to. Wide receivers, Richie James and Ed’Marques Batties fit the bill perfectly. They are 5’9 and 6’0 respectively, have good hands, good quickness to break in and out of routes, and most importantly of all, great chemistry with their quarterback.
James already has over 1,000 yards receiving this year to go along with 82 receptions and six touchdowns. Batties has 814 yards with 67 receptions and 12 touchdowns. He is arguably Stockstill’s favorite target in the red zone.
The Mean Green secondary, which has performed terribly this season and ranks 111th in pass defense gives up almost 280 yards per game, and will have their hands full with these two wide outs. The Blue Raiders rushing game is not great but they sprinkle it in enough to make their passing game that much more dynamic. Behind the play of a strong offensive line, I completely expect the Blue Raiders to be able to move the ball almost at will against this Mean Green defense.
- The Mean Green Continue to Struggle on Offense
North Texas was shut out for the first time since 2011 when they played the Tennessee Volunteers last week and were walloped 24-0. Before that game they were soundly beaten by Louisiana Tech 56-13, and did not score those 13 points until the fourth quarter when the game was already over.
This season, scoring has been a struggle for the Mean Green as they average only 15.8 points per game. They have one of the worst scoring offenses because of their unstable quarterback position, predictable play calls, and inconsistent performance from all of their skill positions.
Quarterback DaMarcus Smith has to become more accurate if he wants to keep his job as the starter for next year. Completing about 46 percent of your passes is not going to get the job done at any level of football, not to mention college.
It is for these reasons and more that UNT will not get a win on the road this year and will lose their last road game of the season by a pretty hefty margin. Middle Tennessee 45 – North Texas 10