By Craig Fields
Saturday – October 26 – 6:00 PM
M.M. Roberts Stadium – Hattiesburg
This has been a tough year for the Golden Eagles. Last year was also rough on this team. In addition to going 0-6 through the midway point of this season, they were 0-12 last season. This school is not accustomed to this kind of product from its football program.
Before last year’s awful year, the Golden Eagles had 18 consecutive winning seasons with bowl wins coming in eight of those seasons. The downfall started with the departure of Head Coach Larry Fedora and the hiring of Head Coach Ellis Johnson last season. Coach Johnson not only made promises that he could not keep, in regards to records and winning tradition, but also seemingly tore apart a winning system.
College football teams are fragile, mainly because of the high turnover rate of students leaving, and the uncertainty of the draft class each and every year. Once a winning tradition is created, it does not take much to kill it. A bad year or two could destroy a program and with that, the public perception that there is a good team.
With that being said, the Mean Green should use this golden opportunity (excuse the pun) to win their third straight game. Even though the game is on the road, North Texas should win this game going away. This team just won, in convincing fashion I might add, against a decent Louisiana Tech team.
That was the homecoming game for the Bulldogs. Of course it didn’t matter to Head Coach Dan McCarney of the Mean Green. He likes ruining other team’s homecomings. “We just ruined a homecoming here,” he said last week during a post-game interview. “We’re going to enjoy this one a little bit and hopefully get ready to ruin another next week against Southern Miss.”
Honestly that should not be difficult. The Golden Eagles only score about 13 points a game while the Mean Green are averaging about 29 a game. Southern Miss also allows about 40 points a game while that number is only about 21 for the Mean Green.
The rushing game for the Eagles is almost non-existent. Averaging about 83 on the ground makes this team primarily a team prone to airing it out. That kind of one dimensional team is the kind of team the Mean Green defense loves to go against. Keeping Southern Miss on second and long or third and long opportunities will allow their front seven to rush the quarterback relentlessly. They will be able to pin their ears back, and play with that “hair on fire” urgency that Coach McCarney is so fond of.
The Golden Eagles defense gives up almost 400 total yards a game meaning that, home run threat wide receiver Brelan Chancellor, and the running back hydra of Brandin Byrd, Antoinne Jimmerson, and Reggie Pegram, should have no problem making an impact.
All in all this game puts me in mind of the first game of the season when North Texas demolished an Idaho team that just did not seem prepared for this new and improved Mean Green team. Even though that Idaho game was back home at Apogee Stadium, something tells me beating the Golden Eagles on the road during their homecoming will feel just like being at home.