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Football attempts to bounce back against Louisiana Tech

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Article Originally Published by Reed Smith on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Reed Smith on North Texas Daily

North Texas travels to Ruston, Louisiana to take on Louisiana Tech University on Saturday. The Mean Green have lost two of their last three versus Louisiana Tech. 

Louisiana Tech (1-2, 0-0 Conference USA) enters this weekend’s game on the back of two last-second losses. Against Mississippi State University in week one, the Bulldogs missed a potential game-winning 46-yard field goal attempt and last weekend they lost 39-37 on a 42-yard hail mary.

In their last game, the Mean Green (1-2, 0-1 C-USA) fell 40-6 in their conference opener versus the University of Alabama-Birmingham. The game featured North Texas only garnering 134 offensive yards while surrendering 234 to the Blazers.

Head coach Seth Littrell is not focusing on their previous failures, emphasizing that the team needs to move on and put all of their focus into the present.

“Obviously it’s very frustrating–you’re going to win games, you’re going to lose games,” Littrell said. “There’s a lot of low points last week, I’m going to move past last week–I’ve already put that to bed, I’m going to focus in on [Louisiana] Tech, and we’re going to move forward.” 

Despite a strong showing in the first half of the Southern Methodist University game on Sept. 11, the North Texas defense has struggled to stop big plays throughout the season, which was apparent against UAB. The Blazers had three receiving touchdowns of 30+ yards versus the Mean Green last weekend. 

Following their regression, the defense went to observe the game film in order to find and improve upon their biggest flaws.

“If you look back at those games, all those points–most of them are just a mental thing, one guy’s not doing his job, and you have to key in on those situations,” sophomore linebacker Kevin Wood said. “We just didn’t start fast, we gave up 10 points early and we didn’t really bounce back after that, I feel like in those situations you really have to lock in when you’re down.”

The offense scored six points last Saturday – the lowest in the Littrell era since 2016’s 32-0 shutout at the hands of the University of Florida. Following an interception on the first play of the game and a three and out in North Texas territory, Littrell benched starting quarterback, sophomore Jace Ruder for the remainder of the half. Ruder would later return in the second half, throwing a touchdown to freshman receiver Detravion Brown for the first reception of Brown’s career.

“A lot of mistakes all around–I think it’s an opportunity to look at it and get better, focus on each guy doing their job, and doing it well, it takes eleven guys on the field to be a good team,” Ruder said. “That’s what we’re doing this week, working on mentality, being a dog upfront, and making plays downfield.”

The North Texas offense will face a Louisiana Tech defense that has surrendered 116 points on the season in three games, averaging a 37.2 point mark per contest. Although the Bulldogs defense has given up points at a high rate, Ruder is not taking them lightly.

“We’re real excited for [Louisiana] Tech, on defense they look real good,” Ruder said. ”They’re not doing a whole lot of crazy stuff, but they’re really good at what they do.”

In their most recent contest with Louisiana Tech last year on Dec. 3, the Bulldogs beat North Texas by a score of 42-31 in a game that featured three touchdowns by former Mean Green wide receiver Jaelon Darden. Now the backup quarterback for Louisiana Tech, graduate Luke Anthony also threw for two touchdowns in the competition. 

“[Louisiana Tech] [is] obviously a great team,” Littrell said. “I know they’ve had some tough losses that could have gone their way, could easily be 3-0, we know what we’re facing, great football team, great coached football team, and we got to make sure we have a good week of preparation.”

Featured Image: The Mean Green Football team runs onto the field at Apogee Stadium for a game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo by Zachary Thomas

Source: North Texas Daily

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