The last time North Texas traveled away from Denton two weeks ago, the Mean Green narrowly escaped El Paso with a three-point victory against a winless UTEP team. The outcome matched UNT’s road win total from last season but still wasn’t good enough for the Mean Green, and quarterback Mason Fine thinks he knows why UNT’s performance was so lackluster.
“(Coach Seth Littrell) said we came out flat,” Fine said. “Just no one was really juiced. People kind of were just there. That’s a point of emphasis. We’ve learned from it. Luckily, we walked out of there with a win. It’s never easy to win a game, nonetheless win away. We learned from the UTEP game, and I think we’ll be pretty juiced up this upcoming game.”
UNT travels to Birmingham, Alabama, on Saturday to take on UAB, which leads the Conference USA West division with a 3-0 conference record. A win this weekend would not only put the Mean Green in the driver’s seat for the division crown, but also reach the most road wins during the Seth Littrell era since 2016. UNT was 3-4 in true road games last season, compared to 3-0 this year.
“I think the biggest thing from last year and this year is I think we have a lot more energy on the sideline,” Fine said. “Especially going on the road, you’re gonna have to bring your own energy, especially on that sideline. I think we’ve had great excitement and great energy when we travel to away games, and we’ve been the most excited team to play. That’s really what it comes down to. We gotta make sure we keep that up, going on the road and being the most excited team to play.”
Littrell has had a handful of mottoes for his squad this season, and “Being the most excited team to play” has been one of his key phrases thus far.
“Most important thing we talk about is, whether it’s at home or on the road, whether it’s rain, sleet or shine, we need to show up and be the most excited team to play,” Littrell said. “By saying that, we have to create our own energy at times. At different places, we’ve had an opportunity to. Even though they weren’t cheering for us, we gotta feed off that energy from the crowd, even when they’re booing.”
Before this year, the Mean Green were 5-8 on the road under Littrell. Last season, on average, opponents outscored UNT 37-27 in true road games. The year before, the average margin was 35.5-21 with a 2-4 record.
This season, UNT is outscoring opponents 39-16 on the road, with wins against Arkansas, Liberty and UTEP. Littrell credited the “Be the most excited team to play” mentality and maturity to UNT’s improvement on the road.
“It’s gonna take all that and more this week,” Littrell said. “We’re going on the road against a very good football team for their homecoming. We know without a doubt that we’re gonna get their best. We’re gonna have to match that with our best in order to have any kind of success whatsoever.”