Wide receiver Rico Bussey Jr. is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, an injury he suffered in UNT’s loss to Cal.
UNT coach Seth Littrell said that Bussey was questionable during his weekly press conference in advance of the Mean Green’s game against the Roadrunners.
A UNT spokesman confirmed just before kickoff that Bussey would miss the remainder of the season.
Bussey is UNT’s active leader with 1,941 receiving yards. He caught four passes for 156 yards and a touchdown in the Mean Green’s win over Abilene Christian to open the season.
SMU held Bussey without a catch in UNT’s second game. Bussey caught one pass in the Mean Green’s loss to the Bears before leaving the game.
Bussey was on crutches after the game.
UNT rode its running game with Bussey out of the lineup, rolling up 290 yards on 44 carries. When the Mean Green went to the passing game, a couple of familiar faces were there to give Mason Fine reliable targets.
Slot receiver Michael Lawrence caught five passes for 58 yards, while Jaelon Darden added four catches, including a 3-yard touchdown.
Jyaire Shorter added a 20-yard touchdown catch.
UNT also used its running backs out of the backfield. DeAndre Torrey caught three passes for 60 yards and scored on a 9-yard pass from Fine.
UNT also elected to play freshman Deonte Simpson for the first time this season. The Mean Green had planned to redshirt him.
“It doesn’t have to be one guy,” Littrell said of how UNT will make up for the loss of Bussey. “We need a lot of people to step up and make plays.”
Bussey was one of three UNT players to miss the game. Linebacker Mike Linehan and defensive tackle Bryce English also did not play.
Linehan had three tackles and a sack heading into UNT’s game against UTSA. English posted a tackle in the Mean Green’s win over ACU but has not played since.
Mooney missed first field
goal of year
UNT kicker Ethan Mooney missed his first field goal attempt of the season in the first half.
The Mean Green drove to the UTSA 23-yard line, where Mooney lined up for a 40-yard attempt and pushed it wide to the right. Mooney had hit all six of his field goal attempts heading into the game. Each of those kicks had come from 36 yards and in.
He hit from 31 yards out later in the game.
- UTSA tight end Leroy Watson went down with an injury and was carted off the field late in the game and left in an ambulance. Littrell said UNT’s coaches and players would keep Watson in their prayers.
“He had feelings in his lower extremities, but we certainly felt it was necessary to take every precaution,” UTSA coach Frank Wilson said.
- Darden caught the 100th pass of his time with the Mean Green in the first half. The junior came into the game with 98 receptions for 1,049 yards and nine touchdowns.
- UNT quarterback Mason Fine has always excelled in games against UTSA. The senior came into the game with 931 passing yards in three games against the Roadrunners.
Fine went over the 1,000-yard mark in the first half and finished with 195 passing yards and two touchdowns.