FB Third Down Defense/Special Team Play Sinks North Texas in SMU Upset Hopes

SMU (2-0 0-0) extended its overall record against the North Texas (1-1 0-0) to 31-5-1 by defeating the Mean Green 54-32. The reported attendance for the game was 24,638 but there is no way Ford Stadium was at two-thirds of its capacity. North Texas fans made about 5,000 of those reported in attendance.

Courtland Sutton delivered as anticipated with 163 yards on 8 receptions and 4 touchdowns. He has a future in the NFL and is hands down the best player on the Mustang roster.

North Texas got off to a an 10-0 lead but then SMU scored 38 unanswered points, shutting out North Texas for the second quarter. North Texas scored 22 points in the second half after the game had already been decided.

Offense Starts Off With a Fast Start, Then Stalls

North Texas started with a 10 point run on its first two drives of the game but then the offense stalled out with a 3-and-out series and a 9 play series for 33 yards followed by another series of 6 plays for 18 yards.

Jeffery Wilson was held to just 36 net yards on 13 attempts. It seemed apparent the SMU defense was keyed in on the Mean Green rushing attack as North Texas only managed 69 net yards. The offensive line didn’t do a good job creating holes for Jeffery and all the other running backs to run through. They also didn’t give the quarterback

Mason Fine managed the game although he threw one ill advised interception into double coverage while trying to get away from a sack. Even with a couple mistakes, he has improved on last season with a quarterback rating of 184.2 versus 103.9 for the first two games of the 2016 season.

Poor Third Down Defense Allowed SMU Offense to Stay on the Field

Poor third down defense was a problem last season and appears to still be a problem again this year. SMU was nine of 18 on 3rd down conversions. On average, SMU managed more than 10 yards on third down to extend drives. Sutton was also put under double coverage for several series to start the game but went away from this defensive strategy after a few series. Tough to say whether keeping the double team going would have had much of an impact; perhaps prevent one of the four touchdowns Sutton scored?

The Mean Green Defense again prevented a single rusher and the opposing team from getting over 100 yards.

Special Teams Needs Some Major Adjustments

For the second straight game, North Texas has muffed a punt resulting in a turnover that led to a touchdown. North Texas has been using two returners for fielding punts and there was an instance where the two returners collided with each other. The Mean Green was lucky that this didn’t result in another fumble/turnover.

Needless to say, Marty Biagi has his work cut out for him as the special teams unit needs to make some serious corrections if they are going to help the offense and defense win games this season.

Media Coverage

Mean Green Sports Recap

Denton Record Chronicle

North Texas Daily

Post Game Press Conference

Highlight Reel

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