UNT will look to break through for its first win of the season today at Southern Miss. The Mean Green have lost their first three to open the season.
Picking up that first win of the year today might be a big challenge. Not only is UNT taking on a rapidly improving Southern Miss team, it’s also trying to win on the road.
The Mean Green have lost eight straight away from Apogee. UNT didn’t win a road game last year.
Southern Miss is 2-2 on the year and has a lot to play for in its Conference USA opener. The Mean Green have already dropped their first game against Rice.
The key for UNT today will be to hold up defensively against a good Southern Miss passing attack behind Nick Mullens. The junior has played a ton of football for the Golden Eagles and threw for 447 yards last week in a loss to Nebraska.
UNT will face Mullens at a time it is running short on bodies in its secondary. Cornerback Kenny Buyers is out for the year, as is backup safety Cedric Fernandes.
The Mean Green got its running game going last week, rushing for 183 yards against Iowa. UNT coach Dan McCarney said Iowa is a Top 25 team after that game. Turns out Mac knows what he is talking about. Iowa beat Wisconsin to improve to 5-0 and pretty much lock up a spot in the poll next week.
The question now is if UNT can run the ball effectively again today and take the pressure off starting quarterback Andrew McNulty.
Stay tuned. I will update the blog all night.
5:20 — The status of linebacker Blake Bean will be a game-time decision. Bean missed UNT’s last game with a shoulder injury and was replaced By Anthony Wallace, who played really well in his place.
5:43 — Kishawn McClain arrived for today’s game at 4 p.m. after attending his grandmother’s funeral back in Texas. McClain is UNT’s leading tackler with 35 stops.
5:47 — M.M. Roberts Stadium is pretty empty tonight. I’m kind of surprised. Ole Miss and Mississippi State are both on TV tonight, which probably has a lot to do with that. In a side note, it is a cool night here in Mississippi. It looks like it might rain.
5:55 — The key to this game for UNT will be the way it plays in pass coverage. Southern Miss can really throw it around and the Mean Green are without a couple of their key defensive backs. It would really help UNT if Jarrian Roberts can continue to add to his sack total. He has four through three games.
Kickoff — UNT has won the toss and will receive the ball to open the game.
14:55 — UNT will start at its 13. Andrew McNulty is in.
11:04 — UNT drove down the field on its first drive and reached the Southern Miss 22 before Andrew McNulty was sacked. Trevor Moore missed a 46-yard field goal wide right. That was a big opportunity UNT missed out on right there.
8:13 — UNT held up on Southern Miss’ first possession, thanks in part to a timely holding call on the Golden Eagles. Tyler Sarrazin rolled a perfectly executed punt down to the UNT 1-yard line. UNT will start out in a hole on this drive.
4:33 — Southern Miss came after UNT on third down and sacked Andrew McNulty. Southern Miss is going to have great field position to start this drive. UNT was called for kick catch interference. Southern Miss will start out at the Mean Green’s 45-yard line.
1:58 — Southern Miss is on the board following a Nick Mullens touchdown pass to Mike Thomas in the back of the end zone. That was a third-down play and a big one for the Golden Eagles, who are up 7-0.
End of the first quarter — UNT is down 7-0 at the end of the first quarter and will have to punt the ball away again after Andrew McNulty was sacked on third down.
13:45 — UNT has the ball back at its 5-yard line after another nice punt from Southern Miss. Looking back, it’s pretty obvious what the Golden Eagles plan here is defensively. Southern Miss has come after Andrew McNulty three times on third down and gotten there every time.
12:08 — UNT was a bit late getting its punt team on the field and had to take a timeout. UNT is still only down 7-0, but is going to give up good field position here.
12:00 — Southern Miss has the ball back at its 41-yard line early in the second quarter.
8:30 — Southern Miss has extended its lead to 14-0 on a pass from Nick Mullens to Casey Martin. UNT is in trouble now. The Mean Green have really struggled to score all year.
8:23 — Well, here we go. DaMarcus Smith is in. He threw two great balls on his first two attempts. UNT dropped both. Smith was sacked on third down. UNT has given up four third-down sacks.
1:37 — UNT had something going with Smith in the game, but he threw an interception in the end zone on the Mean Green’s last drive. He tried to fire it in there to Carlos Harris but Cornell Harris stepped in front it the pass.
Halftime — UNT is down 21-0 at halftime here at Southern Miss. The Mean Green managed 167 yards in the first half and seemed to have something going with DaMarcus Smith in at quarterback, but couldn’t punch the ball in when it had it deep in Southern Miss’ end of the field.
Start of the second half — UNT held on Southern Miss’ first possession and forced a punt. UNT would have had terrific field position, but somehow kicked the ball toward its own end zone.
8:55 — Southern Miss has extended its lead to 28-0 on a Nick Mullens touchdown pass. The Mean Green have struggled to contain him all night.
6:46 — Andrew McNulty came back into the game on UNT’s last possession and moved the Mean Green down the field. The Mean Green had the ball in Southern Miss territory and went for the first down on fourth down, but missed on a McNulty pass down the sideline.
6:35 — Southern Miss just added insult to injury there, hitting on a flea-flicker for a 62-yard touchdown pass to extend its lead to 35-0.
2:59 — Here’s a big play for UNT. It’s fourth-and-9 inside Southern Miss’ 20. UNT went for the end zone, but McNulty’s pass fell incomplete.
14:45 — UNT is on the board. Andre McNulty threw a nice ball to Carlos Harris in the end zone and he won the battle with a defensive back to hang on to it. UNT is down 35-7.
9:34 — UNT is down 42-7. I will be back later with some thoughts.