Streaking North Texas guarding against complacency

Posted Friday, Oct. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information North Texas at Southern Miss 6 p.m. Saturday Records: North Texas, 4-3, 2-1 C-USA; Southern Miss, 0-6, 0-2 TV: Fox College Sports Network Radio: KHYI/95.3 FM, KNTU/88.1 FM Head to head
CategoryNorth TexasSouthern Miss
Points per game28.412.5
Total offense400.3291.8
Pass offense253208.7
Rush offense147.383.2
3rd down conv.45.027.2
Points allowed21.340.2
Total defense397.7395.8
Pass defense259.6208
Rush defense138.1187.8
Def. 3rd down conv.39%47.8%

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North Texas travels to Southern Mississippi for a fourth Conference USA game riding a two-game winning streak for the first time since 2004 and guarding against complacency for the first time since who knows when.

Think about that: North Texas and complacency. It’s as counter to common sense as a beer-and-bacon milkshake and bowl-eligible and Denton.

But, that’s the state of affairs for a North Texas team playing well heading to Hattiesburg, Miss., for a 6 p.m. game Saturday against an opponent that is winless in six games under new coach Todd Monken.

“I’ve been around this a long, long time,” North Texas coach Dan McCarney said, “and I know a desperate football team can be a very dangerous football team. That’s my message to my football team. It’s human nature to relax and be complacent. And then get your tail kicked in Hattiesburg, Miss.”

There isn’t a team “we can’t beat, and there’s not one we can’t lose to” on the schedule, he continued.

Even as the coach emphasized the importance of his team’s preparation for each game and its sole focus on Southern Mississippi, he appeared to be a little guilty of looking ahead, if only slightly.

McCarney has good reason to be peeking.

At 4-3, the Mean Green is two games shy of being bowl eligible.

After the Golden Eagles this week, North Texas hosts its Texas brothers in three straight at home: against Rice, the C-USA West Division front-runner at 3-0, then UT San Antonio (1-2) and UT El Paso (0-3).

The Mean Green closes with Tulsa in Oklahoma.

“I don’t want that to be our last time together,” McCarney said of the trip to Tulsa. “If we continue to keep winning, then we can extend our season and spend more time together. And that’s one of my motivations.”

Orr hits milestone

Another reason for Dan McCarney’s enthusiasm is team captain Zach Orr, a linebacker from DeSoto.

“Down deep this football team has something special about it,” McCarney said. “I think they want to be different. I think this senior class wants to be remembered.”

No one will likely ever forget Orr. With a career-high 17 tackles, including a career-best 2.5 for loss, last week in a victory against Louisiana Tech, the senior eclipsed 300 for his college career. His 315 ranks sixth in the nation among active players.

He’s also the main reason North Texas is a plus-6 in turnover margin this season. Orr leads the team with three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

It’s rare that he’s not somewhere around the ball. Southern Mississippi is minus-14 in turnover margin.

“I never get tired of talking about Zach Orr,” McCarney said. “Our program is just so much better with him.”

Another ‘Zachary’

Zach Orr’s contributions, however, were not enough to earn distinction as his team’s MVP last week.

That would be Zac Whitfield, the UNT cornerback who was demoted to backup on the depth chart after struggling at times on the field.

But Whitfield earned conference player of the week honors after returning an interception 56 yards for a touchdown against Louisiana Tech.

“It goes back to character,” Dan McCarney said. “He overflows with it. He could have dropped his shoulders, gone in the tank, made excuses. I never sensed any of that.”

North Texas at Southern Miss

6 p.m. Saturday

Records: North Texas, 4-3, 2-1 C-USA; Southern Miss, 0-6, 0-2

TV: Fox College Sports Network

Radio: KHYI/95.3 FM, KNTU/88.1 FM

Head to head

CategoryNorth TexasSouthern Miss
Points per game28.412.5
Total offense400.3291.8
Pass offense253208.7
Rush offense147.383.2
3rd down conv.45.027.2
Points allowed21.340.2
Total defense397.7395.8
Pass defense259.6208
Rush defense138.1187.8
Def. 3rd down conv.39%47.8%

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