Tennessee 24, North Texas 0: What We Learned
Three key takeaways from North Texas' valiant effort in Knoxville.
North Texas was overmatched, but hung in there against SEC foe Tennessee in Knoxville, falling 24-0. What did we learn? DCTF’s Thomas Bingham breaks it down.
Lifeless first half translates into first shutout
North Texas made offensive progress in the weeks after head coach Dan McCarney was let go, and Mike Canales had a fast start as the interim head coach. The Mean Green set two scoring marks in his first three games, and that included the season’s only win against UTSA two weeks ago. Unfortunately, the trend seems to be over. It’s been a struggle the last two weeks, laying an egg against Louisiana Tech and no-showing for the most part against Tennessee. It was the fourth game this season that the offense was shutout in the first half. Half of its 96 yards came on a 10-play drive in the opening quarter, and the Mean Green was stopped on fourth down on its next two drives. Things did not get better in the second half, and that’s why North Texas recorded its first scoreless outing this season, a milestone it wants to forget with two games remaining.
Wow, what a defense!
The defense has been awful all season, but it was by far the better side for North Texas today. Only two FBS teams allowed more points per game entering today, but the North Texas defense kept the Mean Green around in this contest. Opponents were scoring more than 45 points per game against UNT, but the Mean Green allowed just 24 points to a SEC squad that was averaging 35 points per game. Stops on its side of the field made the difference; the game could’ve got away from North Texas late in the first half, but it forced an interception and a field goal, instead of more touchdowns. Tennessee entered North Texas territory seven times in the game, but the Volunteers only scored three touchdowns. The defense is slowly improving, and that should excite fans heading forward.
Where was DaMarcus Smith?
The offense’s success starts with the quarterback, and DaMarcus Smith did not have time to showcase his skills. He kept getting attacked by the defensive line, and that’s why we didn’t see his dual-threat capabilities today. He finished with 103 passing yards, and negative-6 rushing yards, both pathetic numbers. In his team’s two highest scoring games this season, he rushed and passed for over 100 yards. He fell short of that mark today, and that’s why drives were not extended when North Texas needed them to.