Five takeaways art

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

North Texas coach Seth Littrell and his players held their weekly press conference today in advance of their showdown with SMU on Saturday at Ford Stadium in Dallas.

UNT is 1-0 after cruising past Northwestern State 44-14. SMU is also 1-0 after hammering Abilene Christian 56-9.

Here are five takeaways from today's event.

1. This is Jace Ruder's team now

This seemed like a foregone conclusion after UNT's opener, but Jace Ruder is listed on this week's depth chart as the Mean Green's starting quarterback.

The 'or' between Ruder and Austin Aune is long gone. The switch only made sense after Ruder started against NSU and put together a promising performance that included throwing for 131 yards and a touchdown against the Demons.

Aune played sparingly in the second half. Littrell made the point that Ruder hasn't played significant snaps in a long time after sitting on North Carolina's bench for three years.

Ruder will get better and has a higher ceiling than Aune, who is in his fourth season at UNT.

2. Littrell isn't going to add to the UNT-SMU fire

Littrell was offered up a perfect opportunity to pour fuel on the UNT-SMU rivalry.

SMU posted a tweet on its official account that referred to UNT as "that team from Denton."

It would have been easy for Littrell to fire back. He knows very well the UNT faithful's feelings about the school.

He passed.

"If I looked at every Twitter feed or tweet, I wouldn't have time to go to work," Littrell said. "It's about preparing the right way and competing on game day. The rest will take care of itself."

That was probably the wise thing to do, but he also passed on winning points with UNT fans by saying something snarky.

3. UNT knows the challenge it faces in SMU

Littrell and his players talked up SMU as a program as well as the Mustangs new quarterback Tanner Mordecai.

The Oklahoma transfer threw seven touchdown passes against ACU.

Littrell talked about UNT knowing the challenge it faces while taking on the Mustangs.

4. Littrell isn't worried about Torrey's workload

UNT running back DeAndre Torrey rolled up 320 all-purpose yards in the Mean Green's win over NSU.

He rushed for 244 yards on 25 carries, caught a pass and returned kickoffs.

Littrell was asked about putting too big of a burden on Torrey.

"If I sat and worried about that, it'd be pretty tough," Littrell said. "We'll try to keep him as healthy as we can while at the same time giving him opportunities to go out there and have success."

5. Drops a concern in the passing game

UNT dropped seven passes in its win over NSU and needs to improve significantly on that number.

"You hope it's a week one thing," Littrell said. "We have to catch the ball better. We're going to run the ball and set up opportunities when teams load up the box. We have to make plays on the perimeter and hit deep shots."

That's the whole concept of UNT's offense. The Mean Green can't afford to miss out on opportunities to make big plays, especially not this week.

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

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