What we learned art

North Texas wide receiver Michael Lawrence (32) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass from Mason Fine in a 49-27 loss to SMU on Saturday at Ford Stadium.

North Texas fell to 1-1 over the weekend following a tough 49-27 loss to rival SMU at Ford Stadium.

The Mean Green will look to rebound when they take on Cal on Saturday.

But before we turn the page, it's time for the Monday edition off What We Learned, a look back at UNT's last game and what it all means.

The idea of a Dallas takeover is on hold for now

UNT has long wanted to carve out a bigger niche in Dallas, the city to the south with its huge population, a host of UNT graduates and a ton of people with significant financial resources.

The desire makes a lot of sense. UNT even moved its system headquarters to Dallas a few years back.

UNT's athletic program has similar desires, not in terms moving to Dallas, obviously, but in having Dallas move to Denton when it comes to fans and the top athletes in the area.

UNT's players talked about their game against SMU being a battle for who runs the city. The war is still ongoing, but the latest battle went to SMU in decisive fashion. 

SMU has now won four of the last five games in the series. What's tougher to think about for UNT fans is this season looked like the Mean Green's best chance to break through for their first win in Dallas since 1933 and their best opportunity to turn the series back in their favor.

All five of UNT's preseason All-Conference USA selections are seniors, including quarterback Mason Fine, the most important player on the roster. UNT had 13 seniors listed as starters heading into the game.

SMU has just three senior starters on offense and nine overall. Quarterback Shane Buechele, SMU's entire offensive line and star wide receiver Reggie Roberson Jr. will all be back next fall.

It's time to start worrying about UNT's defense

UNT explained away giving up 31 points to Abilene Christian in its season opener by saying that its players lost focus and tired late. There is a whole lot of truth to that.

ACU scored 21 points in the second half after UNT had run out to a 31-0 lead.

UNT suffered through an even worse day against SMU while allowing 503 yards. The Mean Green play a ton of man coverage and try to win by stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback.

The plan worked to perfection last season when UNT had two NFL caliber cornerbacks in Kemon Hall and Nate Brooks and players who excelled at getting to the quarterback.

UNT is just two games into the season, but one has to wonder if the Mean Green have the players to make the system highly effective again. Cover corners and great pass rushers are at a premium when it comes to recruiting.

UNT has given up big play after big play, including nine of at least 20 yards against SMU. Nickel Jameel Moore was flagged for pass interference three times.

Fine's Heisman campaign might have just gone down the tubes

The idea of a player from Conference USA winning the Heisman Trophy was a pie in the sky scenario, but kudos to UNT for putting together a nifty campaign for Fine.

UNT's senior entered the weekend as the active leader at the Football Bowl Subdivision level with 9,800 passing yards. It seemed like a reasonable expectation that he would reach the 10,000-yard mark against SMU.

The Mustangs had a perfect game plan to limit Fine. SMU sacked him five times, took top wide receiver Rico Bussey Jr. away and held him to 152 passing yards.

Fine's passing yardage total was his lowest in a game he wasn't knocked out of since he threw for 118 yards in a win over Army in the seventh week of his freshman season.

It's too early to completely write off Fine's chances, but he was nowhere to be found on 247Sports' Heisman watch today. 

UNT will probably update its website promoting Fine for the Heisman that shows where he ranks in terms of career stats at some point this week. 

The NCAA stats are up, though. Fine checks in at No. 34 nationally with an average of 267.5 passing yards per game.

That isn't going to cut it when it comes to gaining momentum as a Heisman candidate.

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

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