Mean Green Lose Home Opener to Rice

Carlos Harris had a huge game for the Mean Green with 8 receptions for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns. Photo Courtesy: Sandy McAnally
Carlos Harris had a huge game for the North Texas Mean Green with 8 receptions for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns. Photo Courtesy: Sandy McAnally

By Craig Fields

The North Texas Mean Green managed a much better offensive showing but still fell to Driphus Jackson and the Rice Owls 38-24 at Apogee Stadium in Denton. Jackson and the offense were seemingly unstoppable all afternoon long.

One major statistical discrepancy that was extremely noticeable throughout the game was the time of possession. The Owls were able to hold onto the ball for 42 minutes. Even though they went no huddle all game long, they still managed to hold the ball for majority of the game.

They had two drives that spanned about eight minutes and ended with scores. The Mean Green defense just did not have an answer for them. The Owls had 562 total yards of offense and 373 of that came through the air. The senior Jackson was finding receivers all day long, largely due to the soft defense the Mean Green played in the entire game.

I do not know what defensive coordinator Chris Cosh had in mind or why he had his cornerbacks play so far off of the Rice receivers, but whatever the game plan was, it was woefully ineffective. Of his 29 completions, Jackson probably completed a third of them just on quick passes taking advantage of the 10 yard cushion the cornerbacks were giving the receivers.

With that being said, the defense did manage to produce a little pressure on the senior, sacking him four times, but it just was not enough. Head coach Dan McCarney said that he knew Rice was a good football team.

“We got beat by a heck of a football team today,” the coach said. “We knew they were a good team coming in here.”

But any team can look a lot better or score more than they should when the defense is not as aggressive as it should; or when your team gives the ball up three times. Yep, the Mean Green lost the turnover battle again going minus three in that category.

The Mean Green quarterback had one interception that really was not his fault. It was more of a tip drill on a pass that should have been caught. The other two turnovers were ridiculous. One came on a carry from a running back being a little irresponsible with the ball. Another came on a muffed punt that should have never been touched in the first place.

Instead of letting the Owls down the ball, Darvin Kidsy attempted to grab the ball even though he was surrounded by the opposing team. Those are the kind of mental errors that just make you shake your head.

Now for the positives. Well, first and foremost, quarterback Andrew McNulty had a pretty decent game. He was 19-35 for 303-yards and two touchdowns including a 93-yard td catch and run to wide receiver Carlos Harris. That was a massive improvement over week one’s performance.

Speaking of Carlos Harris, the Owl defense could not stop the explosive receiver. He had eight receptions for 193-yards and two touchdowns. He was a lot more involved in the offense in the second week than in the first.

Hopefully that will be the rule and not the exception for the Mean Green because they need all of their offensive weapons on deck every game. The offensive effort was not lost on the coach McCarney.

“I saw a tremendous effort out there today and we’ve got to keep doing that. But our defense couldn’t get off the field in the third quarter,” said McCarney. “They kept executing and we didn’t do a good job.”

Part of that execution came from senior quarterback Driphus Jackson. Jackson is dual threat quarterback, but he rarely had to use his legs in this one. His passes were surgical and pretty precise due to his comfort level in the pocket.

The Owls also ran the ball 51 times for 189 yards. That was good for a 3.7 average. Not terribly efficient but it did what it was suppose to do, which was control the clock and tempo of the game.

North Texas was also able to move the ball on the ground totaling 175 yards on 27 rushes. Much more efficient but still not enough. The weak link in this game was the defense, hands down.