By Zach Walker
North Texas Mean Green vs SMU Mustangs
Saturday – September 7 – 6:00 p.m.
Gerald J. Ford Stadium – Dallas, TX
Records Before the Game
North Texas Mean Green: 1-0; 0-0 in C-USA (Last Week: W vs Abilene Christian 51-31)
SMU Mustangs: 1-0; 0-0 in AAC (Last Week: W at Arkansas State 37-30)
Who’s got the advantage?
When SMU has the ball: What would I use to describe last week’s game at Arkansas State? Jitters? Rust? I could point out the offense really eight-balled themselves in the first half, and could have really stretched the legs out late in the game if they took the advantage early. What I’ll say is, it was week one, game one, and that’s the process of putting fuel through the system. Shane Buechele looked studly after settling down. Buechele worked confidently within the pretty excellent pocket that he was afforded, and when he had to move, he moved with a presence and poise. The connection to his receivers was very evident, and the Mustangs have three stallions out there. James Proche and his Velcro hands, the emergence of Kylan Granson who was often just standing in voids in the zones of the defense, and Reggie Roberson who’s quickly becoming the next receiver from SMU to plan to see on Sundays. The Mustangs were able to also get their running game going well with the excellent balance of Ke’Mon Freeman and Xavier Jones, splitting forty carries between the two of them. And that’s where the Mustangs have to like what they saw from the Mean Green game against ACU. The Mean Green defense allowed 185 yards and three ground scores off of twenty-four carries from two backs. The balance of the offense that Sonny Dykes is striving for must really like that stat line.
When North Texas has the ball: The Mean Green running back tandem made efficient work of the ACU defense, with both DeAndre Torrey and Loren Easly both ripping carries for high clips, with Torrey carrying at an 8.6 yards per tote. The Mustangs’ defense is going to have to be ready to play a horizontal game in what could be a 100 degree night in Dallas. The Mean Green have a confident quarterback of their own. Mason Fine returns to lead the North Texas offense, and last week, he looked all conference. With a completion percentage of 76, four passing touchdowns, and 383 yards. The receivers are major problems for the SMU defense to try and keep them locked down. Rico Bussey, Jason Pirtle, and Jaelon Darden can all make coordinators look foolish when they eventually get loose behind the defense. That means the front four for the Mustangs need to dictate the way the game will go. Delontae Scott and Turner Coxe are going to have to get Fine off his spot, or it’s going to be a very long game.
What will it take for the Mustangs to win?
Keep the dangerous receivers in front of them, keep Mason Fine’s feet moving under pressure, and when the Mustangs’ have the ball, they must keep drives going and finish them with points, no more missed kicks leading to empty pockets. And I’d personally like to see stronger second down play calling when in the redzone.