Missed Opportunities on Offense Plague Mean Green


The North Texas Mean Green were coming off of a solid showing in Manhattan, Kansas, so they were hoping to join UL Monroe as another Sun Belt team with the distinction of beating a nationally ranked team.  The Mean Green, despite losing 14-7 to Troy, continued to play Dan McCarney football. The offense ran the ball well, and the defense was solid.

North Texas QB Derek Thompson after the game. Photo credit: Art Cantu, Jr. – SportDFW Staff Photographer

At the end of the game, UNT had more total yards, more rushing yards, more YPC, more time of possession, and more turnovers. But, somehow they still lost the game.

It was a close game all day, but UNT lost because of two things: the inability to convert on 3rd  down, and a terrible kicking game. 

Mean Green junior quarterback Derek Thompson played his best game of the season last week against Kansas State, completing a school record 89.2 percent of his passes.  Things didn’t go near as well against Troy this week; Thompson just couldn’t find a way to connect with his receivers. He completed  just 12 of 28 attempts.  Thompson looked uncomfortable all day, kinda like he did against Texas Southern – his throws were often off-target, and many of them were not close at all.

The Mean Green’s offensive gameplan was very different this week. Thompson took many shots down the field and even mixed in a few trick plays.  The long throws often put UNT in long 3rd down situations, where they were an atrocious 2 of 14. Thompson said:

"“As the captain of the offense it starts with me. I’ve got to be better”."

Thompson has had three bad games to one good so far; they will need him to be much more consistent if they want to win close games.

Even though Thompson didn’t play his best game,  UNT only lost by 7 points. And while no football game is ever determined by a single play, the kicking game was a huge factor.  Junior placekicker Zack Olen was 0-2 on FG tries (47,40).  He was pulled in the 3rd quarter, and replaced by Freshman kicker Zack Paul. Paul was not much of an improvement: he missed his only attempt from 27 yards out.

Coach McCarney  continued to support Zach Olen, who hit a 57-yard FG in practice this week. When asked about Olen after the game, he said:

"“He’s our guy. He’s my guy.  I trust him. I have a lot of faith in him.  But he’s got to carry things over from practice to the game field. “"

After Paul missed the field goal, the UNT  coaching staff decided that there was no point trying to kick field goals.  The Mean Green offense tried to convert four times on 4th down. They went 1-3.    The decision to go with Paul was a strange one, but it looks like its still Olen’s job and he’ll have to make kicks the rest of the way for this team to win.

The Mean Green just miss on a flea-flicker to TE Drew Miller. Photo credit: Art Cantu, Jr. – SportDFW Staff Photographer

The  Mean Green rushing attack continues to be formidable at Apogee; they managed 186 yards on 43 carries.  Antoinne Jimmerson led the way with 75 yards, and Brandin Byrd getting 59 yards on 15 carries.  Facing so many 3rd and long situations made the running game less effective than it could have been.

Brelan Chancellor

Brelan Chancellor on his way to a 50-yard touchdown reception. Photo credit: Art Cantu, Jr. – SportDFW Staff Photographer

Brelan Chancellor made big plays when he was on the field Saturday night. He had 4 catches for 107 yards, including a 50yd TD.  He also had 3 rushes for 36 yards.  The offense seems to have big play potential every time he’s on the field. Chancellor played more snaps in the 4th quarter, but his success made you wonder why he wasn’t on the field more often earlier.  He has all 4 of the teams 5 receiving touchdowns this season after only having 3 TD catches all of last season.  On his TD, Brelan Chancellor moved into 8th place in North Texas history for all-purpose yards with 3,093.

Despite the loss, there was plenty for UNT Mean Green fans to feel positive about. The team has shown a lot of growth this season. The defense continues to be stingy giving up points. The running backs seem more than capable of fulfilling their roles. If the UNT offense can maintain more consistency in the passing game, this team has a shot to be a contender in the Sun Belt.