Thirty eight to seven doesn't look like much in the way of a competitive game, and for the majority of the game it really wasn't competitive.
In reality, the romantic though of "Oh, we're going to beat Texas!" was just that. The problems facing the Mean Green were far greater once the green kool-aid wore off and you actually got the chance to analyze the game.
Here were the problems coming into the game against Texas:
1. Texas had a new coach who is known as a strict disciplinarian, and went about changing the culture of the Longhorns- Never, ever underestimate this. Texas was a team in need of a culture change after turning into the media-friendly, country club atmosphere that it had become under Mack Brown, and the win percentage (post 2009) reflected that. Texas also shifted from a focus on offense to more of a focus on defense.
2. The Mean Green lost one of the more efficient quarterbacks in the last 5-6 years of the program as Derek Thompson graduated. They were left with Josh Greer and Andrew McNulty, both who had less than 3 starts of experience combined.
3. The Mean Green graduated much of the defense, the heart of its 2013 team, including 75% of the defensive line.
4. This game was the first game of the season. Historically, UNT does not do well against perennial Power 5 conference behemoths its first game.
Here's what actually happened:
Greer and McNulty combined to throw for 15 yards, four interceptions, and a negative 22 passer rating. One-five. Forty-five feet. Greer's first throw was behind his receiver, his second throw was fumbled and his third was picked off. McNulty looked like he was bracing for a hit with every snap, and promptly threw an interception in his second throw.
Strong's defense came out hungry, and looking like they had something to prove. To be fair, this is a team full of 5-star recruits, with a new hungry coach, facing a young and inexperienced team fresh off their first taste of success in ten years. It was a recipe for disaster.
The lone bright spot was in fact the Mean Green defense, something McCarney is known for. Though the score was 31-0 before North Texas scored (on a fumble return no less), the defense had the problem of always defending a short field, and actually defended well given that problem.
So where do we go from here?
North Texas's next opponent, SMU, got pounded 45-0 by Baylor yesterday. SMU running backs combined for negative 24 yards rushing, and 91 yards passing. SMU was projected to get blown out, and it did.
As inept as the offense looks right now, North Texas will likely find the end zone on offense next week. SMU is not Texas, and does not have the emotional advantage the Longhorns did coming in to the game with a new coach. While a Texas win would've been important in terms of program-building, the SMU win is far more important. I heard plenty of rumblings during the game that Coach Mac had in fact prepared a vanilla game plan against Texas and would open it up against SMU, a regional recruiting rival.
While that hurts to type, and is not indicative of Coach Mac's personality, it's probably right. The game against SMU is far more telling with how the rest of the season is going to go. Josh Greer must take this week to review and find a way to become more comfortable in the pocket for the home opener, or this could be a long season.