Five thoughts Myrtle Beach Bowl

Appalachian State running back Camerun Peoples scores one of his five touchdowns during the Mountaineers 56-28 win over North Texas on Monday at Brooks Stadium.

North Texas' season and the fifth year of Seth Littrell's tenure with the Mean Green came to a close on Monday night with a 56-28 loss to Appalachian State in the Myrtle Beach Bowl.

UNT finished the year 4-6 after dropping its fourth straight bowl game, all in the Littrell era.

Here are five thoughts on the game and where UNT stands.

1. UNT has to find a way to get over the hump

UNT is now 3-9 in bowl games and still hasn't broken through under Littrell.

A good argument can be made that the biggest issue for UNT is that is never has any luck with matchups. UNT's first bowl game under Littrell was in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Army.

UNT nearly pulled that game out before falling in overtime. UNT has since faced Troy, a nationally ranked Utah State team with an NFL caliber quarterback and now Appalachian State.

The Mountaineers finished the year 9-3 with all of their losses coming against teams that were ranked at one point or another.

Litttrell said there are no excuses and that UNT has to find a way to get over the hump.

He's right.

Continuing to lose in the postseason is not going to put UNT on the path to where it wants to go.

2. UNT was terribly undermanned

Littrell won't make excuses, but the reality is UNT was going to have a hard time beating App State. 

The task looked darn near unsurmountable without Jaelon Darden, who left for the NFL draft, as well as quarterback Austin Aune, running back DeAndre Torrey and wide receiver Deonte Simpson.

All three were out due to undisclosed issues.

UNT just doesn't have the depth of talent to overcome those types of losses. That's not an excuse. It's a fact.

3. UNT needs impact transfers to turn it around

This offseason is going to be a wild time in college football. The NCAA is not counting this season towards players' four seasons of eligibility, leaving a host of players out there on the transfer market.

The easiest way for UNT to make a big jump after a four-win season is to grab a impact player or two.

UNT already knows that it will lose its best player in Darden. It would be no surprise if some of the team's other top players elect to explore their options.

UNT needs help now and has to find the right fits.

4. UNT's defense is a huge issue

The big hope coming into this season was that UNT's defense would be dramatically better with Clint Bowen as its coordinator.

The Mean Green didn't make the jump they were looking for.

The famous saying, "It's not the X's and the O's, it's the Jimmy's and Joe's" seems appropriate. UNT has some good players. It just needs a whole lot more of them.

UNT finished with one tackle for loss on the first play from scrimmage of its loss to App State, posted no sacks and two quarterback hurries.

What was even more telling is that Camerun Peoples rushed for 319 yards a five touchdowns. Peoples said after the game that App State knew it could run on UNT's defense.

UNT can shuffle systems all it wants. Until this team has more impact players in its front seven and across the board, it doesn't matter what system it runs or who is calling the plays.

5. Being blown out by a Sun Belt team is salt in the wound

One of the more exciting times for UNT in recent memory was its move to Conference USA ahead of the 2013 season.

It was the right decision then and remains to today because of the additional Texas rivals UNT has in the league now with Rice, UTEP and UTSA.

With that being said, it's hard to not see that when it comes to football right now, the Sun Belt is a step up.

UNT was smoked by Appalachian State and was blown out by Troy in the 2017 New Orleans Bowl. Coastal Carolina and Louisiana are both ranked.

It's a tough set of circumstances to say the least for UNT. 

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

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