In terms of actual games played, North Texas went just one date on its schedule without a win.
Count up the number of days the Mean Green went between a season-ending shellacking of Middle Tennessee at the end of last season and its win over Texas Southern last week, and a lot of time had passed.
UNT went through an entire spring, summer and fall two-a-days and finally received a reward for all that hard work when it knocked off TSU 34-7.
That win did UNT a lot of good, especially considering it came in the Mean Green’s home opener.
UNT hadn’t won its first game at home since 2006, before taking out the Tigers, and hadn’t won a game, period, since hammering the Blue Raiders 59-7 on Dec. 3 of last year.
McCarney talked about how important reaching that milestone was after UNT evened its record at 1-1 on Saturday night.
The impact of the win was even more evident by Monday morning.
“It was very positive,” McCarney said during the Sun Belt Conference’s weekly coaches’ teleconference. “It’s always good to get a reward for everyone’s hard work.
“When it’s a young team, it’s good to have something to build on. They understand that we are a long way away from where we need to be, but thank God we are not where we used to be.”
The win was particularly important for UNT in a season in which it faces a tough schedule, one that will continue this week with a game at Kansas State.
The Wildcats are ranked No. 15 and will be the second ranked team UNT has faced this season. The Mean Green lost to No. 3 LSU 41-14 to open the season.
The Wildcats looked like they might not be as strong as they have been in previous seasons after using a 35-point fourth quarter to turn what was a close season-opening game against Missouri State into a 51-9 blowout.
The Wildcats led just 16-9 before pulling away.
Kansas State looked a whole lot more impressive while pummeling Miami 52-13 last week.
“It’s amazing with all the years that have past that it is the same type of Bill Snyder team,” McCarney said of the Wildcats’ longtime head coach. “They are well-coached, disciplined, tough and relentless. They are a veteran team coming off a Cotton Bowl a year ago. We all know Miami has talent and it is well coached, and it’s a 52-13 take-them-out-behind-the-woodshed kind of game. It’s a tremendous challenge.”
The Wildcats are a team with whom UNT has become familiar over the last several years. The Mean Green put up a fight against the Wildcats in the final game at Fouts Field at the end of the 2010 season before falling 49-41.
Kansas State is 4-0 against UNT since the 2000 season.
McCarney is well aware of the challenge that lies ahead for UNT and talked about quickly turning his and his team’s attention to the Wildcats following the Mean Green’s win over TSU.
It’s a point he has continued to emphasize to his team early this week.
UNT has not won back-to-back games since the 2004 season.
“It is absolutely important to turn the page,” McCarney said. “It’s not hard to do that when you look down the pipe and see an outstanding Kansas State football team. We cherish winning, enjoy it and appreciate it. I think I appreciate it the more I coach because it is so hard to do.”
McCoy still day-to-day
Defensive end Brandon McCoy is still on a day-to-day basis in terms of returning to practice due to an injury he suffered early in the Mean Green’s season-opening loss to LSU.
McCarney wouldn’t reveal the nature of the injury, but said that McCoy won’t need surgery.
“He’s wired pretty tight and wants to get on the field,” McCarney said. “He will be back. If it is tomorrow, Thursday or next week, we don’t know. We need him back because he is clearly one of the best players on our football team.”
UNT could use McCoy this week against a physical Kansas State team that likes to run the ball.
The Wildcats pounded the ball at Miami and picked up 288 yards on 60 carries.
Kansas State ranks sixth in the country with an average of 306 rushing yards a game.
LSU had two running backs post more than 100 yards against UNT and averaged 6.9 yards a carry. McCoy missed most of that game after being knocked out in the first quarter.
UNT bounced back in impressive fashion and limited Texas Southern to 31 rushing yards on 25 carries in a 34-7 win last week.
ULM win talk of SBC
Louisiana-Monroe’s 34-31 overtime win over No. 8 Arkansas last week continued to be the talk of the Sun Belt Conference on Monday.
Kolton Browning scored on a 16-yard run to give the Warhawks the victory and put the program in the national spotlight.
ULM was the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week, while Browning was the Walter Camp Football Foundation Offensive Player of the Week.
The junior finished with 481 yards of total offense against the Razorbacks.
“ULM’s win was a fantastic performance by the Warhawks and a signature win conferences need to build on,” Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson said.
Warhawks head coach Todd Berry could see the impact the win has had on the program already and has quickly asked his players to move on and focus on a game this week at Auburn.
“It was a big win for our university, the program and our kids,” Berry said. “I was really happy for our kids and wanted them to live in that moment. But as I told them [Sunday], that to move forward we can’t get caught up in the peripheral distractions with people patting us on the back. We have to be the same guys that we were seven days ago, a team with a chip on our shoulder and wanting respect. I think we will do that.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .