UNT takeaways

North Texas running back DeAndre Torrey carries the ball during the Mean Green's loss to Marshall on Friday at Apogee Stadium.

North Texas coach Seth Littrell and his players held their weekly press conference on Tuesday in advance of their game against Liberty on Saturday at Apogee Stadium.

The Mean Green lost their fifth straight game last week when they fell to Marshall 49-21 and are now 1-5 on the season. Liberty is 5-2 after falling to Louisiana-Monroe 31-28.

Here's a link to today's notebook. And as always, here are five takeaways from today's event.

1. Littrell is addressing penalty issues

One of the big storylines coming out of UNT's loss to Marshall last week was the Mean Green's issues with penalties.

The Mean Green were flagged a whopping 17 times for 161 yards. Littrell vowed to address those issues following the game and said he is well into the process on Tuesday.

"We are going to continue to stress it and to discipline it, just like anything," Littrell said. "We've got to hold guys accountable. There's got to be disciplinary actions for doing the same thing over and over. You've got to learn and grow."

2. Liberty quarterback Malik Willis has UNT's attention

It would had hard for any team that is set to face Liberty to not have its attention firmly on quarterback Malik Willis.

The Flames star player is projected to be selected in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft.

He has UNT's attention due to his athleticism and strong arm.

"He's extremely talented and accurate with the football," Littrell said. "When things break down, he can make plays with his legs."

3. UNT's players hanging tough in midst of challenging season

Nothing seems to have gone right for UNT heading into its game against Liberty.

UNT has lost five straight and is dealing with injuries to a host of key players.

Littrell and his players believe they are responding well to that challenge.

"It's frustrating when you are in the position we are in," Littrell said. "Emotionally there are highs and lows. That's part of life no matter what. You can be frustrated or disappointed, but you better bounce back and figure out a way to come together. They've done a great job of that."

4. UNT is struggling to carry improvements over to games

UNT is seeing some signs of progress offensively during practice.

The problem is those improvements are nowhere to be found on game days.

"We run the same plays over and over throughout the week in practice and there are no issues," Littrell said. "Then we get in a game, and it speeds up for a guy or someone tries to do too much.

"It's not a lack of focus. It's just in that moment and that time locking in, doing your job and not trying to do too much."

UNT will try to follow that formula this week in its game against Liberty.

5. UNT seems passing game as key to conversions

UNT has struggled when it comes to converting on third and fourth down. 

The Mean Green enter their game against Liberty cashing in just 34.7% (34 of 98) of their third downs and 18.2% (4 of 22) of their fourth downs.

"We've got to throw and catch better," Littrell said. "In short yardage, we have to make sure that we come off the ball.

"We have to make competitive plays on third down."

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

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