North Texas Mean Green Crushes Texas Southern 34-7


Denton, TX – Last week the University of North Texas Mean Green football team opened their season up in Baton Rouge against the #3 ranked LSU Tigers.   The 41-14 final score in favor of LSU was not indicative of the hard-fought game the Mean Green played (particularly on defense), but it also wasn’t surprising given the difference in expectations for the teams.  The Mean Green came into the game against Texas Southern looking to exact revenge on some Tigers and earn their first win in a home opener since 2006.  Luckily for the raucous crowd at Apogee Stadium, that’s exactly what they did.

Defensive End K.C. Obi nearly decapitates a Texas Southern player. Photo Credit: Art Cantu, Jr. – SportDFW Staff Photographer

The first thing that stood out about the 34-7 shellacking the Mean Green laid down was that the defense came here to play and shut down the Texas Southern Tigers.  UNT’s defense allowed just 16 yards of total offense in the first half with most of that coming on a 9 yard catch late in the second.  For most of the first half ,the Tigers were hovering in the -5 to -10 yard range for total offense and had only 3 first downs to UNT’s 12.

Texas Southern wanted to pass the ball, but didn’t have the time or open receivers to do so, as they averaged only 4 yards per catch in the game.  The Mean Green defense sacked the Tigers QBs 4 times and held their ball carriers to 1.2 yards per rush.

Linebacker Aaron Bellazin and safety Marcus Trice were two of the many instrumental players on defense, with each making plays big plays when they were needed the most.  Trice, a transfer from the University of Oklahoma, was playing in his first game in 20 months. He had 4 tackles, a pick and was consistently causing the Tigers trouble all over the field.

When I asked Marcus Trice about being out for such a long time and how he’s adjusting to game action he said:

"“ I feel like I’ve adjusted well, the speed of the game is really fast.  The coaches simplified things and gave us the ability to use our athleticism to make plays and slow the game down”."

Bellazin was in on a ton of plays and had a key deflection in the 3rdquarter when Texas Southern was moving the ball and gaining some momentum.  Overall, there weren’t many negatives on the defensive side of the ball (especially in the first half), and they set the tone for this team to get the W.

Running Back Brandin Byrd cuts upfield. Photo Credit: Art Cantu, Jr. – SportDFW Staff Photographer

The biggest question on offense heading into the 2012 season was how the team was going to replace the productivity of running back Lance Dunbar, the school’s all-time leading rusher who’s now playing for the Dallas Cowboys.  In the second game of the season, they figured it out. The Mean Green will use a 3-headed backfield of Brandin Byrd, Antoinne Jimmerson, and Jeremy Brown who combined for 297 rushing yards against the Tigers. Byrd was the most consistent of all the backs, racking up 142 yards on 24 carries and 2 TDs, but Jimmerson was more explosive with 139 yards on only 15 carries and a touchdown.  Although Byrd and the rest of the backs were fantastic, he wasn’t satisfied with the result saying:

"“We had some big plays but we left some plays on the field and we can be better”."

The one negative that you could take from the offense is that the passing game was not very impressive at all; QB Derek Thompson completed only 11 of 24 passes for 145 yards, and he threw an interception.   The running game left the team with opportunities to take shots down the field, but more often than not Thompson missed receivers that were open.  Coach McCarney said the passing game and special teams are places that they really need to make improvement if they want to win consistently this season.

22,259 fans filed into Apogee Stadium for a beautiful night of football, something Coach McCarney wants to see more of:

"“I want this thing some day to be that you cannot get a ticket to a Mean Green football game.”"

Defensive End Aaron Bellazin: Photo Credit: Art Cantu, Jr. – SportDFW Staff Photographer

The North Texas Mean Green have a lot of positives to take out of this game, and Coach Dan McCarney said after the game that, “I’m real proud of the team.  This was a good win for us.”  But they can’t get complacent after beating a team like Texas Southern if they want to be a force when they jump up to Conference USA next season.

Next week the North Texas Mean Green travel to Kansas State to face coach Snyder and the 21st ranked Wildcats (who just beat Miami (FL) 52-13).  Coach McCarney seems to have his guys on the right track and though they may not beat K-St, there is no telling what can happen in the Sun Belt Conference race if they play defense like they did tonight.

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