By Craig Fields
Paying another football team $425,000 to come in to your home stadium and not only beat you, but embarrass you during your homecoming game is a bad scenario for any football program to have to navigate.
However, that is precisely what happened to the North Texas Mean Green when the Portland State Vikings visited them last Saturday and beat them 66-7. Not only did that loss pretty much cost them the season, but it ultimately cost their Head Coach Dan McCarney his job just minutes after the rather historic loss. But that is a subject for another article.
First let’s talk about why this loss was historic. This was one of the worst losses in the history of this school, and if you consider the opponent this is probably UNT’s worst loss ever. One thing that is not up for debate is that this is the worst loss for an FBS team to take at the hands of an FCS team.
There is no other way to put it except that this team is just not very good and are on their way to being 0-12. I am not sure anyone could have predicted such a quick turnaround from the 9-4 team that ended their 2013 season with a Heart of Dallas Bowl win.
However, the problems that have led to such a dismal couple of seasons since that win are not hard to find or notice. They are very apparent and noticeable in just about every game. And they are the subject in this week’s “Three Things to Take Away From…”
First and foremost: The defense is awful
The UNT defense gave up 670 total yards. I mean the defense could not stop anyone. Before this game, Vikings quarterback Alex Kuresa was only averaging 109-yards per game passing the football. The head coach ended his day early because of the blowout but he still managed 11-19 completions for 269 yards on the day and three touchdowns.
Kuresa was also the leading rusher for the team averaging 63 yards per game. However he did not have to run the ball much this game because he was barely pressured at all. Also what reason does the quarterback have to run when a rushing offense that has been pretty anemic all season manages to rack up 347 yards on the ground (Kuresa rushed for 21 yards to bring his season total to 368 yards).
Some scores happened so fast that if you went to the bathroom (and this actually did happen) and came back a few seconds later, you were witnessing the point after touchdown field goal. One scoring drive took 47 seconds, another took just 40 seconds, and yet another took only 19 seconds. That totals one minute and 46 seconds to score 21 points. That is absolutely ridiculous.
Each defensive player and coach need to take long hard looks at themselves in the mirror and make a change. The effort that the Mean Green faithful received from their team was pitiful at best.
Secondly: The offense was just awful
If not for the last drive of the game led by Mean Green quarterback DaMarcus Smith, who headed a 12-play 81-yard drive to score seven points with a minute left in the game, this would have been one of the worst showings offensively in school history. As it is, it’s still pretty bad.
The Mean Green managed 198 total yards of total offense, again with 81-yards coming in the last portion of the game. They punted/turned the ball over on downs 13 times. The defense that the Vikings played was not strange or tricky. It was pretty straightforward actually.
For whatever reason, senior quarterback Andrew McNulty and the Mean Green offense just could not figure it out. Although it has to be said that there were a few shots that McNulty just missed; more than a few actually.
He has shown time and time again that he is not the guy for this offense. The fact that McCarney and staff did not see fit to remove him from the starting lineup either says something about the talent at that position for the Mean Green or it says that the coaching staff were not competent enough to make a change. Honestly I think that it is the former, which means that this team is in trouble the rest of the season, 0-12 type of trouble.
Thirdly: UNT lose the turnover battle again
The Mean Green have lost the turnover battle every game this season. They currently have a negative turnover margin at -7 which is good for 119th in the nation among all 127 FBS teams. Yea, not good.
They have had 12 turnovers this season and which is 2.4 turnovers per game. That is not good by any standard, but when your defense cannot stop a nosebleed, these errors are made that much more prominent.
The Mean Green have a hard enough time trying to score without giving their opponents short fields and easy opportunities to score. McCarney, during his time here, stressed ball security and taking care of the football. For all of his harping and preaching on it, I guess it just didn’t get through to his players.
The Mean Green only turned the ball over once, but once again did not manage to create a turnover of their own. This is not a ball-hawking defense and it shows game after game.
The Mean Green will be playing the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (5-1) on a short week on Thursday. Oh and by the way, they lead the FBS in turnover margin. In six games they have made their opponents cough up the ball 17 times.