By Craig Fields
North Texas Mean Green vs SMU Mustangs
Saturday – September 12 – 6:00 pm CT
Gerald J. Ford Stadium – Dallas
North Texas Mean Green 43 – SMU Mustangs 6. That was the beating, whooping, walloping, whatever word you want to throw in there, that the Mustangs took last season at the hands of a motivated Mean Green team.
It is fair to say that neither team enjoyed a very successful season last year with the Mustangs going 1-11 and the Mean Green going 4-8. However, the Mean Green were able to come out on top in last season’s match up. The Mean Green controlled every aspect of the game from start to finish.
This marked the first time since 2006 that the Mustangs started a season 0-2. You can bet that new head coach Chad Morris will be looking to light a fire under his guys in order to avoid that same fate this season.
Even though the Mean Green have yet to play a game this season, the Mustangs are already 0-1 by way of a 56-21 loss to a very good Baylor team. By that score you might not think that the game was very competitive, but you would be wrong.
The Mustangs managed to stay within a touchdown of Baylor until late in the third quarter. Unfortunately for the Mustangs who were unable to keep the Bears explosive offense in check in the first half, the Bears were quick to run off four straight offensive touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters.
Baylor quarterback Seth Russell threw for over 350 yards and five touchdowns. But enough about last week… Let’s get to what the Mean Green and Mustangs have to do to beat each other this week.
Mean Green Defense
Well for starters the Mean Green need to rediscover that stifling defense from two years ago. You know that defense that had that incredibly epic eight play goal line stand against Rice. The one where the Owls had eight cracks within the 6-yard line and still could not make a touchdown. Yea that defense.
Last season it was pretty evident that the defense was not that good, nor did it need to be in order to win big against a talentless Mustangs team. But this season is different.
Mustangs quarterback Matt Davis is now at the helm and is a pretty talented dual-threat type of player. He’s a QB who can make decent decisions and dynamic plays with his arm and most importantly, his legs. At about 6-0, 212-pounds he will not run you over, but his shiftiness in the pocket and outside of it can sometimes make him seem like a ghost when trying to tackle him.
In the game against Baylor he had 166-yards passing, completing 16 of 23 passes and two touchdowns, but he also had 24 carries for 115 yards. To say that the offense runs through him is an understatement.
The Mean Green will have to very aware of him and try to keep him in the pocket. If they can stifle him then they win the game.
Mean Green Offense
The Mean Green on the other hand will stick with their “old guy” Andrew McNulty at qb. The 6-1 fifth year senior won the job outright and will be looking to pick apart a team that has shown it can give up big gains in the passing game.
“Our team believes in him. Our players do, our coaches do,” McCarney said. “He has been much more consistent, taken care of the football and made more plays. He understands what we are doing and isn’t afraid to straighten out something that is wrong. He has emerged as a leader.”
The team and the coaches seem to be behind him 100 percent, but will that be enough for a guy who, at times, still looked like he had the decision making and play-making ability of a freshman last year?
One thing that is certain is that the Mean Green will definitely need McNulty to play good football, not just against SMU but the entire season if this team has any aspirations of winning six games and making a bowl game.
Perhaps this team will find its offense behind the very capable and experienced backfield that will showcase Senior Antoinne Jimmerson and Sophomore Jeffrey Wilson.
Wilson is a player that can and will run you over. He is a contact runner that will run through arm tackles and will typically fall forward to mitigate loss yardage. Jimmerson is a shifty change of pace type of guy who looks to dance around and make plays that way. Jimmerson can be pretty electrifying at times. Just ask Indiana or UAB last year.
Both teams will look to push tempo and will probably look to go no-huddle at different parts of the game. Even though both teams may have improved since last season, I still think that the outcome will favor the Mean Green. UNT 28 – SMU 17