Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer
North Texas traveled to Knoxville, Tennessee on Saturday and were shutout, falling to the University of Tennessee 24-0.
For the first time this season, the Mean Green (1-9, 1-5) were unable to get on the board despite winning the time of possession battle 30:59 to 29:01. Interim head coach Mike Canales’ squad also forced the only turnover of the game, an interception in the red zone by junior defensive back Chad Davis.
The North Texas defense also held the Volunteers (6-4, 3-3) to 17 points for over a quarter and a half while surrendering 409 total yards of offense, its second-lowest total of the season.
“I’m so proud of everyone,” Canales said. “Offense, defense, special teams. Offensively we were going to milk the clock. We told our kids we were going to take [the play clock] down to 10 seconds and frustrate them because they were going to get impatient. Defensively, what a great job.”
Tennessee got the scoring started early when sophomore running back Alvin Kamara found the end zone from 27 yards out to put the Volunteers up 7-0. But the North Texas defense buckled down, and neither team scored again until Tennessee punched it in from a yard out to start the second quarter.
Unfortunately for the Mean Green, its offense failed to find a rhythm all game, managing 199 yards of total offense and 14 first downs. Junior quarterback DaMarcus Smith ended the game 12 of 25 for 103 passing yards, but rushed 11 times for minus six yards.
Canales said a big reason for the struggles offensively was quarterback play, an area that must improve if North Texas is to win close games in the future.
“DaMarcus has got to play better,” Canales said. “We cannot come in here against a team like this and make mistakes like that.”
The offense rolled the dice a few times on fourth down but were stopped on both occasions. The first came when Canales dialed up a fake punt which was snuffed out by the Volunteers’ special teams unit. The second came on a fourth and one near midfield when Smith was stuffed on a quarterback draw play.
“You have to be aggressive and take chances in a game like this,” Canales said of his decision to go for it on fourth down.
Tennessee tacked on another touchdown in the fourth quarter when Kamara scampered in from 15 yards to put the Volunteers up 24-0 and seal the victory.
Next Up: North Texas travels to Murfreesboro, Tennessee for kickoff at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21, to take on Middle Tennessee State University.
Featured Image: North Texas junior quarterback DaMarcus Smith (10) avoids a tackle from a Western Kentucky defender earlier this season. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photograper