By Craig Fields
Poor tackling and an even poorer run defense was the name of the game for UNT as the UTEP Miners rushed for 351 yards on their way to a 35-17 dominating win over the Mean Green last Saturday. Nathan Jeffrey ran for three touchdowns while Aaron Jones rushed for 177 yards and added two more scores.
The Miners passing game was pretty much non-existent as quarterback Jameill Showers only passed for 87-yards, but he was a bus driver in every sense of the term. He passed when he had to and completed 8-11 of those passes. But honestly, why pass the ball when you are having so much success and being that effective on the ground?
No matter how much the North Texas team has been beat by this year, one thing that happened in this game that is not normally typical of this team was their lack of passion or heart during the game on the defensive side of the ball. This is not the most talented bunch of guys, but their effort always seemed to be there. Even in the 38-7 loss to the Texas Longhorns at the beginning of the season, the Mean Green defense had a collective motor that would not quit. That was not present in this game.
The Miners offensive line pushed the UNT defensive front around all day. They opened up huge holes and lanes, were dominant, and imposed their will onto a defensive unit that just did not look like they were ready to play. The Miners are a pretty much one dimensional team, and they used that dimension to perfection on Saturday.
One the other side of the ball, the Miners had a pretty stifling defense all game giving up only three points the first three quarters of the game. Quarterback Andrew McNulty showed a little bit of a quarterback’s mentality throwing for over 100 yards and rushing for 67 more. He threw for one touchdown as well. He also completed 16-28 passes.
The reason McNulty had to throw the ball 28 times was because the Mean Green rushing attack was so ineffective. Because of their ineffectiveness and 3.3 rushing yards per carry average, the Mean Green elected to try some dump and dink plays in the passing game. This did not work out so well as McNulty’s passing average was only marginally better at 3.8 yards per pass.
Running backs Antoinne Jimmerson and Reggie Pegram were a combined 13 carries for 23 yards. Those kind of paltry numbers will not cut it when you are trying to win the most important game of your season.
By losing this game, the “Hit 6” motto that the coaching staff has been preaching is officially dead. The most wins this team can get now is five, and even that is looking like a tall order for this squad.
There is no doubt that Head Coach Dan McCarney will try to have his guys pumped up and ready for their last game at their home stadium this season. He has mentioned that it is important to him to continue a winning tradition at Apogee Stadium. They have had a winning record there since it opened in 2011.