Mean Green At Mercy Of Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE -- Stopping other teams, not scoring, had been the problem for North Texas before facing Arkansas.

The Mean Green had problems doing both Saturday night.

North Texas entered the game averaging 378 yards passing per game under first-year coach Todd Dodge. However, facing an Arkansas defense that had struggled in back-to-back losses to Alabama and Kentucky, the Mean Green got very little going early on offense against the Razorbacks' man coverage.

"It's not something that we weren't expecting," said Dodge, who came to North Texas after a 79-1 run his last five years as coach at Southlake Carroll High School in Texas. "(The Razorbacks) played better than they'd played in some of their other games this year.

"I'm sure their coach is proud of the improvement they made."

Junior Daniel Meager, averaging 336.7 yards passing per game coming in, started for the Mean Green but struggled in the first quarter. Meager was just 3-of-7 for 16 yards in the quarter, during which North Texas gained just 10 total yards on nine plays.

"I just don't think we were executing like we should," Meager said. "(The Razorbacks) are a great team.

"When you play good teams like this, you really have to be sharp."

The Mean Green's only scoring drive came in the second quarter with true freshman Giovanni Vizza at quarterback. The first-half rotation was planned coming into the game, though Vizza did play more than planned in the second half.

Vizza sparked North Texas to 158 yards in the quarter, capped by a 9-play, 80-yard touchdown drive with late in the half.

The score, however, only closed Arkansas' lead to 45-7 -- as the Razorbacks wasted little time in putting the game out of reach against their winless Sun Belt Conference opponent. Combined, the two North Texas quarterbacks finished 15-of-41 passing for 189 yards and two interceptions.

"I think we've got an ever-improving offense, but we didn't play very well," Dodge said.

The 66 points by Arkansas were a season high, but they weren't the most given up by North Texas this season. The Mean Green allowed 79 to Oklahoma in their season opener, and it entered Saturday allowing 51.3 points per game in its three losses.

Arkansas gained 713 yards of total offense, including a season-high 267 yards passing. Dodge said North Texas loaded up its defense to stop the run, but admitted that the Mean Green struggled in one-on-one matchups on defense against the Razorbacks' receivers.

"(Arkansas) hit play-action just the way its designed to do," said senior North Texas linebacker Maurice Holman. "Everybody steps up on the line and they get one-on-one."

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