Preview 2017: North Texas Takes Baby Steps
It was a great first season under head coach Seth Littrell as the program takes steps towards being a Conference USA player.
When your team goes 1-11 with almost no offensive production and a worse defense, going 5-8 with a bowl appearance is fantastic no matter what.
So what that North Texas finished 117th in the nation in total offense. It averaged 20 more yards per game.
Who cares that the O only averaged 25 points per game? That’s still ten more points per outing than it came up with in 2015.
Does anyone really care that the team was 5-7 and got to a bowl game? Nah, and even in a loss to Army in a rematch of an earlier game, it was an overtime thriller.
It wasn’t a consistent year in head coach Seth Littrell’s first run, but the former North Carolina offensive coordinator did enough to get a new contract extension and some stability for a program that still needs a while to become a consistent Conference USA player.
But with two bowl appearances in the last four years – but with just one winning season since 2004 – it might not take quite as long as expected.
It’ll be hard to make too much noise in the West race – with Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss and a rising UTSA team all solid – but there are enough winnable games to do more than five wins. It last year’s team could get to a bowl game, then this squad should be able to do it with six victories or more.
The defensive front six will be a plus, with a suddenly deep group up front that should be an improve a weak run D. Kishawn McClain is a special safety for a secondary that was a big plus at times, and should be ball-hawking enough to do more if the line can get to the quarterback a bit more.
While the offensive line is a concern, and the pass protection is a big problem that still needs fixing, the skill players are good enough to keep the improvement coming.
The receiving corps has some flash, and Jeffery Wilson and the running backs are deep, talented, and explosive with a few good options to rotate in. The quarterback situation has to be settled and consistent, but if they get time – not a given – the efficiency will come.
Keep making strides forward, keep doing statistically better, keep finding ways to come up with wins no matter how it looks.
Littrell and his staff worked wonders with a woeful situation last season. Now he’s creating a good one with hope and promise.