Last season’s Tech vs UNT game was played in front of a record crowd at Apogee Stadium, home of the Mean Green, and new home of the Mean Joe Green statue out front.
In a game that saw NT race out front only for Louisiana Tech to get back in it thanks to some ferocious defense and timely offense, NT lined up for a final kick to win things late.
The ball was snapped, and it was blocked by Amik Robertson, the best cornerback on the team. The game had lots of drama. North Texas’ corner Kemon Hall went out with an injury, and Tech took full advantage of Hall’s absence and WR Hardy and company made spectacular catch after incredible catch on whatever backup was put in front of them.
Tech’s Jaylon Ferguson harassed Mason Fine and helped get his team the ball back enough times to get the lead late. It was an exciting game.
Two seasons ago, they played a similar one in Ruston with a similar ending. J’Mar Smith led his squad to a final chance to win it, and the kick was off. NT pulled off a win that just about sealed the division. Then NT RB Jeff Wilson was the star for North Texas in that one.
North Texas was expected to be better than they have played, but have got their offensive rhythm back in the last two weeks. Mason Fine has thrown for 12 touchdowns against Charlotte and UTEP combined. That Mean Green defense has been leaky, however, and vulnerable to teams with a good plan and the players to execute it.
Enter Louisiana Tech and J’Mar Smith. He has been one of the best QBs in the league as far as talent is concerned, but has not garnered the league-wide respect in the form of awards. For every incredible play he has made — rewatch the Rice and USM games for some of that — he has an equal number of questionable performances.
With great talent comes great scrutiny.
Tech has a frustrating tendency to play to the level of its competition — again, rewatch the Rice and USM games for that — and there is enough anxiety among the fans that the wrong kind of start can derail the game in Ruston this weekend. That said, NT’s defense was the salve that healed Charlotte’s offensive woes two weeks ago, so there may be nothing to worry about.
For the neutrals, the best case scenario is that we see something along the lines of the Southern Miss-Tech matchup a couple of weeks past: an offensive showcase for the talent on both sides of the ball, with a stage for an Amik Robertson to step up and shine again.
He picked Jack Abraham thrice in that matchup — the same QB who out-dueled Mason Fine in that matchup earlier in the year — and has a juicy matchup with some talented but young Mean Green WRs across the scrimmage line.
Alabama-LSU this is not, but if it is anything like the last two times they played, it should be entertaining to the last play.