If you’re a fan of the underdog (and Underdog Dynasty), you maybe started your day checking up on WKU or La Tech or Marshall.
And that’s fine— they all won their games— but in year two under Seth Littrell, North Texas redeemed themselves Saturday against the sins of the past. Whatever happens in 2017, we can consider “laughingstock status” officially rescinded, and mark down UNT as, finally, a team to watch (and watch out for) once again.
What Went Right
Mason Fine had a spectacular day, throwing all over the Cardinals and finishing 15/21 with 224 yards passing, and three touchdowns. Doing the math, that’s averaging over ten yards a pass, which should tell you all you need to know about how the day went.
Speaking of automatic first downs, Jeffrey Wilson tacked on 176 yards of his own, taking him well over 2,000 for his career (Wilson entered the game with 1,990 yards for his career). Amongst newcomers, Nic Smith finished with 101 yards, and Evan Johnson with 98. Smith also racked up 35 yards receiving, and a touchdown.
Top receivers Michael Lawrence and Jalen Guyton finished with 70 yards and 63 yards, respectively, with Guyton adding a touchdown of his own, as UNT was able to score all over the field.
Defensively, the Mean Green held Cardinals QB (and SMU transfer) Darrell Colbert to an average of five yards per pass (14/128, 140 yards), forcing him to make rash choices— ten Cardinals logged at least one reception on the day.
Rushing-wise, Lamar didn’t have much going, their top two receivers finishing in the double-digits on attempts, but totaling 51 yards between them. North Texas punter Alvin Kenworthy averaged 36.3 yards a punt, though as the score would indicate, that was over only three punts.
What Went Wrong
While Fine seemed stable, the rushing attack remains the Jeffery Wilson show. Having two other receivers with around 100 yards is encouraging, but they each had more rushing attempts than Wilson, and came up with less. Until the rushing attack is more than just one player, UNT will struggle against more defensively-minded teams.
On defense, both teams recorded two QB sacks each, which is a bit too proportional when you’re playing a FCS team, particularly one you just beat by 45 points. Quinn Shanbour entered the game as Fine’s backup, and went 2 for 3 with eight yards passing. If Fine gets injured, things could turn south very fast.
A good but not a great team, they’re playing in their first game under new coach (and former Texas State OC) Mike Schultz. Colbert is one to watch, and brought his FBS-level experience — and it showed. In the end, he just got overwhelmed by the defense in his first game. If he gets the protection he needs, Lamar will be one to watch out for this year.
A good showing for North Texas, but just like their first game last year, this is a jumping-off point, not their ceiling. We trust they’ll continue to get better every week, and hope they’re able to show the same kind of merciless attack next week, when they travel to downtown Dallas to take on SMU.