The work never stops at North Texas, even during the bye week.
Practices rolled on in Denton for the Mean Green with conference rival UT-San Antonio making the trip to Apogee Stadium this weekend.
“We didn’t have an off week, we had a week to get better,” said head coach Seth Littrell. “There was a lot of energy and enthusiasm throughout the week of practice. I think our guys did a great job last week understanding what we are trying to get accomplished. It’s not hard to get excited and get ready to play.”
North Texas sits at the top of the Conference USA West Division with a 2-0 conference record and 3-2 overall. UTSA is 3-1 and 0-1 in C-USA play. The Mean Green are 1-3 all-time against the Roadrunners.
“We know the challenge lying ahead,” Littrell said. “There’s a lot of great teams in this league. Tremendous challenge every single week.”
KEEPING THE MOMENTUM GOING: After starting off 1-2, North Texas has won their last two games, including the 43-28 win at Southern Miss during the last weekend of September.
How do they keep that momentum going coming off a bye week?
“The momentum never stops,” said wide receiver Jalen Guyton. “We used the week to get better. We try to build on something that we needed to improve on last week. You don’t stop momentum.”
“Just staying focused and staying locked in,” added safety Kishawn McClain. “You can’t settle down. You have to keep pushing and keep going at it every week and every day.”
McClain continues to be the anchor on defense with 27 tackles, an interception and two pass-break-ups this season. He is a preseason All-Conference selection for the second straight year.
MAKING AN IMPACT: The Mean Green have a talented group at the wide receiver position, which got a boost when Guyton transferred to North Texas. Needless to say, the sophomore wide receiver is having a blast during his first year in Denton.
“It’s exciting,” Guyton said. “Football is the love of my life. I can’t even put it in words. It’s just fun being out there with that group of guys and go show everybody in Denton what we’ve been working on all spring and summer.”
The Allen native spent a semester at Notre Dame before transferring to Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas. After a strong 2016 season at Trinity Valley CC, there were no shortage of opportunities from other schools. However, North Texas turned out to be the best fit.
Guyton currently leads the team with 24 catches, 244 yards receiving and five touchdowns. He’s also a deep threat for the Mean Green, with three of his five TD catches being 25 yards or longer.
“The first two weeks when we played Lamar and SMU, I was just smiling, having a lot of fun and trying to soak it all in,” Guyton said. “Then I focused on trying to elevate my play, just like every one of us out on the field is doing. “
Guyton was named C-USA Offensive Player of the Week for the week after the win over Southern Miss. He had a career-high 14 catches for 211 yards against the Golden Eagles.
ALL THE BUZZ: All this success has created some buzz around Denton. North Texas has won both of their games played in the friendly confines of Apogee Stadium and look to keep the good times going against UTSA.
“Everybody is excited, everybody is talking about it,” McClain said. “It’s going to be a very important game for both teams, especially for us. We are trying to stay undefeated in conference and bring this conference championship back to Denton.”
The school is also putting some money on the line this Saturday. If at least 40 percent of a student organization's membership is in attendance at the end of the 3rd quarter, it will be entered to win $1,000. When it’s all said and done, there will be five $1,000 giveaways. Two students will also have a chance to win an Apple MacBook Pro computer.
Apogee Stadium has never been sold out since it opened the doors in 2011.
“There’s been buzz, especially this week, trying to get Apogee packed out,” Guyton said. “We’ve got great fans. I feel like our fans are the best in Texas. If we can get them to Apogee and get everybody ‘turnt’ up, that’s going to be exciting.”
HONORING FRY: Former North Texas head coach Hayden Fry will be honored at halftime on Saturday. Fry was the Mean Green head coach from 1973-1978 and won 40 games during that period, including a 10-win season and national ranking in 1977. Fry then left North Texas to become head coach at Iowa.