UNT Gets After it
UNT Gets After it
If you've been reading these pages for a while you'll know that we like to let you know about players or teams who are making a move. Certainly we've tracked North Texas, from a conference champion that didn't know what the standard was in the outside world, to a team that learned the lessons for next time, to now a team struggling for a home.
UNT and Texas State are in a two-team conference, what was once a fairly robust Southwest Conference. Two years ago, UNT won their conference, went to play in a Bowl Series bowl, and got blown out. A year later, they faced off with Rutgers in a Bowl Series game, and won. As the players and coach told Goff Rugby Report, losing was part of learning, and fueled their win a year later.
But while UNT was moving forward, other teams in the SWC were moving up - notably to the Red River DIA Conference. Texas State and UNT were not admitted to the conference, while Texas Tech and University of Houston were. Certainly the Red River teams had their reasons, but the upshot was to leave North Texas and Texas State with a two-game, home-and-away conference series.
On Saturday, leg #1 of that series went into the books with North Texas pulling out a 26-24 victory. For UNT Head Coach Michael Engelbrecht, it was a massive result.
"Beating Texas State on the road is a very difficult thing to do," said Engelbrecht. "They have a really vocal fan base and it's a great atmosphere, but hard to win there."
Still, they managed, and despite the closeness of the game, will go into the return leg with the confidence they can win again.
Fullback Victor Martinez continues to be an effective attacking weapon for the Mean Green, continually slotting into the line and breaking through. Meanwhile, at openside flanker, Mashersan Wibowo Soedarsono has been a complete pest on defense. He covers the ground well and led the defensive effort.
"We lost a fair number of seniors from last year," said Engelbrecht. "So we started out working on the things we could control. We want to be physical, and we want to play good defense. We spend a ot of time on defense and exerting defensive pressure."
It's paid off. Not only did UNT beat Texas State, but they have also logged wins over UT Dallas and, most notably, Texas A&M. They did lose their opener to Baylor, but still the Mean Green seem to be very competitive no matter who they play.
"We'd like to be in a conference," said Engelbrecht. "So would Texas State. All we can do, though, is keep playing well and keep moving forward."