By Craig Fields
The North Texas Mean Green’s defense was active early and often wreaking all kinds of havoc on the field. Even though the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders decided to go no-huddle to keep the Mean Green off balance, it appeared that it actually might have worked against MTSU.
North Texas was the only team to score in the first quarter as the clock hit triple zeros with the Mean Green leading 7-0. This was in large part because of the Mean Green defense causing a fumble early and the special teams unit blocking a field goal. The Mean Green’s defense in the second quarter proved to be just as disruptive as Laramie Lee would return an interception for a touchdown, the first for the Mean Green since 2011 when they played Florida Atlantic.
Defensive captain Zachary Orr had an impressive first half, recovering a fumble and blocking a field goal, while tacking on five tackles.
However the North Texas defense was not the only unit worth mentioning. Derek Thompson threw two tip-interceptions as his passes were dropped by his receivers and gobbled up by the Blue Raiders.
While MTSU’s offense was only able to turn both turnovers into one score, neither offense really seemed interested in taking over initially.
Derek Thompson, however, led his team down the field after his second tip-interception to put the Mean Green up 14-7. Not much would change for MTSU as the score at halftime would read 24-7 North Texas. MTSU would remain at seven as the final score would be UNT 34, MTSU 7.
The theme of the third quarter was similar to a childhood favorite book of mine, which was “See Green Run”. The Mean Green, with their three headed rushing hydra of Reggie Pegram, Brandin Byrd, and Antoine Jimmerson proceeded to collect 125 yards on the ground. That seemed to be the theme for the entire evening actually as the Mean Green went on to have their most effective game rushing the ball this season totaling 303 yards.
UNT also had their best pass defense performance this year holding MTSU to just 66 passing yards. The Mean Green’s defense kept getting pressure all game long as the Blue Raider’s best rusher was the quarterback who had to frequently scramble for his life.
MTSU was lost on both sides of the ball all evening long. A quarterback change was made in the middle of the game, but did not change much at all.
This game had many of the same qualities that the first game of the season had when UNT beat the Idaho Vandals 40-6. The rush game was dominant. The defense was active. The special teams made plays, and all three aspects gelled together to culminate into a complete football. This team will have to maintain this homogenous state if they wish to win the six games necessary to go bowling this year.
The coaches believe they can do it. The players think they can do it. The fans definitely think they can do. “Everyone in that locker is a believer,” Head Coach Dan McCarney of the Mean Green said. “If we go out there and play hard every game there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get it done.”