UNT takeaways 10-26

North Texas quarterback Austin Aune carries the ball during the Mean Green's loss to Liberty last week at Apogee Stadium. The Mean Green will face Rice in Houston on Saturday.

North Texas held its weekly press conference Tuesday in advance of its game at Rice.

The Mean Green are 1-6 and 0-4 in Conference USA after falling to Liberty 35-26 last week. Rice is 3-4 and 2-1 in C-USA play after knocking off UAB 30-24.

Here's a link to this week's press conference notebook. 

And as always, here are five takeaways from today's event.

1. UNT's injury situation is bad, really bad

The bad news just keeps on coming for UNT when it comes to its injury situation.

The Mean Green lost cornerbacks Quinn Whitlock and John Davis Jr. last week in their loss to Liberty due to injury.

UNT coach Seth Littrell described their status as questionable.

The Mean Green had already lost wide receivers Jyaire Shorter and Tommy Bush, not to mention running back Oscar Adaway III, to injury. Wide receiver Deonte Simpson has been dismissed from the team.

Kicker Ethan Mooney missed last week's game. He's questionable this week.

It's gotten to the point Littrell is considering using wide receivers Loronzo Thompson and Dorian Morris on defense. They have both played there before and are capable.

It's just far from the ideal situation.

2. UNT seems to be catching Rice at a bad time

Rice enters its game against UNT off a huge win over UAB. The Blazers are the defending Conference USA champion and have won the league's West Division in each of the last three years.

Rice will come into its game against UNT with a load of momentum. One can bet the Owls will look at their game against UNT as an opportunity to close in on being bowl eligible.

3. UNT knows where it's at when it comes to its season

Littrell and his players know exactly where they are at when it comes to reaching their goals this season.

UNT came into the year aiming to get back to a bowl game and compete for the C-USA title. The Mean Green are toast as far as the latter goes and will be done when it comes to bowl hopes with their next loss.

The Mean Green said they will stick to their one-game-at-a-time approach, but the situation seems to be wearing on them. 

It would do UNT a world of good to keep its bowl hopes alive as long as possible. Winning five straight games seems out of the question, but until the Mean Green lose another game, it's still possible.

4. UNT's players say they had improved energy last time out

UNT avoided the pitfalls of a terrible start for the first time since a loss to SMU in the second week of the season in its game against Liberty.

The Mean Green posted their first touchdown in the first quarter since a season-opening win over Northwestern State and went on to take a 26-14 lead on the Flames.

UNT's players attributed that change after the game and on Tuesday to improved energy.

UNT will need to keep up that trend this week against Rice.

5. Littrell, players excited about move to American

Littrell and UNT's players expressed excitement over the school moving to the American Athletic Conference.

The announcement came last week.

"It's a great opportunity for the university," Littrell said. "We're very excited. I haven't had time to sit down and take it all in. It's a credit to the president [Neal Smatresk], our athletics department, Wren [athletic director Wren Baker] and the things they've done with our program. They've given us an opportunity to continue to move up and compete."

UNT will move from Conference USA to the American, where it will be in the same conference with SMU, Tulsa and Tulane in addition to Rice and UTSA, schools that are also moving over from C-USA.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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