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SMU Daily Campus


North Texas hands Mustangs second straight loss

SMU wide reciever Stephen Nelson recorded 60 yards on four receptions against the University of North Texas Sept. 6. Photo credit: Ryan Miller

By Staff Writer Patrick Engel ([email protected])

SMU traveled to Denton to take on University of North Texas, looking to bounce back after a 45-0 opening-week loss to Baylor. But for the second week in a row, the Mustangs were routed on the road falling to the Mean Green 43-6.

“All losses are tough, but this is very frustrating,” SMU Head Coach June Jones said. “You’ve got a group of young guys who you try to teach how to win, you’ve got to take ownership. The coaches have to do better, I’ve got to do better and somehow we’ve got to find a way.”

Offensive issues plagued SMU once again. The Mustangs failed to run the ball effectively for the second straight game finishing with eight rushing yards. SMU quarterbacks passed for 266 yards, but five turnovers and four sacks prevented the Mustangs from posing a serious threat on offense.

They converted just one of 11 third downs.

The Mean Green led 3-0 after one quarter, but then exploded for 20 points in the second quarter sparked by three Neal Burcham turnovers. SMU continued to turn the ball over in the second half helping UNT score 20 more points.

The Mustang’s lone touchdown came on a Hail Mary pass from Kolney Cassel to Nate Halverson on the game’s last play. The touchdown was the first of the season for the Mustangs and the first in 10 quarters dating back to last season.

“The biggest disappointment is turning the ball over,” Jones said. “And we’ve got young guys on special teams making bad decisions on kickoffs and punts, and it puts our defense at a disadvantage.”

SMU’s return game was especially weak. Cedric Lancaster fumbled on a punt return, which UNT recovered and quickly turned into a touchdown.

Deion Sanders Jr. averaged 9.7 yards on seven kickoff returns largely due to poor blocking.

The turnovers and special teams mistakes led to generous field position for North Texas.

The Mean Green started seven drives on its own 40-yard line or beyond, including three inside SMU’s 31-yard line. Regardless, the Mustangs struggled to stop UNT’s run-heavy offense, allowing 245 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns. Missed tackles plagued SMU, especially against the run.

Jones played three quarterbacks again, but for a different reason than last week. Burcham played the first half but did not see the field after. Kolney Cassel played most of the second half, and Matt Davis saw action on one series.

“Neal hurt his elbow, so he didn’t play the second half,” Jones said. “Kolney does some good things, but he’s just really young. I think he’s going to be a really good player one day.”

Jones was not concerned about Burcham’s injury. He said Burcham will have the bye week to heal and expects him to be ready to play against Texas A&M.;

Jones also acknowledged that Davis and defensive end Zelt Minor suffered injuries, but said neither are considered serious right now.

SMU has a bye week next Saturday before taking on the Aggies Sept. 20 at Ford Stadium. The game will be the Mustangs’ home opener.

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