By Craig Fields
I do not know which hotel the North Texas Mean Green football team stayed in before they played the Ohio Bobcats in Athens, Ohio, but heartbreak hotel was surely their residence after a 27-21 loss to the Bobcats. I’ve heard it said that in football, more games are loss than are actually won. Meaning that the team that plays the most reckless, attracts the most penalties and turns the ball over more will most likely lose. After watching this game, I am inclined to agree 100 percent.
When you turn the ball over three times, you cannot really expect to win that game. That is, unless your opponent turns it over four times. That’s right. The Mean Green turned the ball over four times. The most crushing of the four turnovers came on the last drive of the game for the Mean Green as quarterback Derek Thompson threw an untimely interception to safety Xavier Hughes of the Bobcats to extinguish any hopes of a North Texas victory.
After just two games, to say something is a trend is a bit overboard. Maybe they are mere coincidences.
However, one thing is certain. That is that the Mean Green football team does not look ready to go after the opening kickoff. The Bobcats scored with ease on their opening drive just as the Idaho Vandals did last week. The 75-yard bomb from quarterback Tyler Tettleton of the Bobcats to wide receiver Chase Cochran set the tone for the entire first half.
Even though North Texas scored to tie the game at seven in the first quarter off of an Antoinne Jimmerson rushing touchdown, they just could not manage to keep the ball moving. One reason for that was that Brelan Chancellor was held in check all night. He only had one reception for 33 yards. In the return game, where he can also be effective, he was nullified because of the apparent efforts of the Bobcats kicking team to keep the ball away from him.
The two teams went through the tunnel at halftime, Bobcats leading 21-7. When both teams emerged to start the game in the second half, nothing seemed to change. The North Texas defense was holding strong while the offense was performing anemically. The defense led by Lombardi Award hopeful candidate Zach Orr’s 10 tackles kept the Mean Green in the game while the offense attempted to change their anemic play.
With a score late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, the Mean Green had finally escaped that rut of four straight possessions that ended in punts, to tie the game at 21-21. Then it was the defenses turn to stop the Bobcats to give the now hot offense an opportunity to grab the lead. However, the Bobcats were able to earn a field goal to put themselves up 24-21. That seemed to take some steam out of the Mean Green offense as they punted on their next opportunity.
At no point in this game were all three phases of the Mean Green football team working together. If the offense was clicking then the defense could not stop anyone. If the defense managed to put together consecutive stops then the offense would have a hard time scoring. With Brelan Chancellor being basically a non-factor on special teams, that part of the team struggled practically the entire game.
Ohio did not win this game. North Texas simply lost it. I do not know what you tell a group of fellas on that long bus trip back to Denton, Texas, but I do know that if this season is going to be different from seasons past, then the Mean Green can’t continue to beat themselves. Period.