Time wasn't a factor on Saturday (3 p.m. kickoff) when reporters wanted to interview UNT defensive coordinator Ron Mendoza after Navy's 74-62 victory. UNT's defense failed to stop Navy on 11 of 13 drives.
I can't tell what's really going on with Mendoza this season, other than his defense is statistically the worst on several fronts in the Bowl Subdivision despite having nine returning starters and several experienced backups. He's been targeted by the typical message-board venom and has either steered clear of, or been told to avoid, doing interviews this season.
UNT defensive players have sat through more than a few uncomfortable postgame news conferences this season, but not Mendoza. Saturday's postgame with head coach Todd Dodge included these excerpts:
Question: Defensively, you knew Navy was going to run that option over and over. You guys could never really get that stop you needed.
Dodge: No, we didn't, and really, I don't have a whole lot of answers for it until I see the tape. There's a lot of different things that could go wrong.
Question: Does Navy's triple option, which you rarely see, in any way mitigate the defense's performance?
Dodge: We don't want to make excuses, because we expect good things from ourselves. But...credit to Navy and [coach] Paul Johnson for running the offense he runs when everybody else in America is doing good things with spread offenses. He's one of the very few doing it, and it's very difficult to defend. They are very unique.
Question: Was this a case of missed execution or poor tackling again?
Dodge: You can obviously say we missed some tackles tonight. They had 572 yards rushing. I can't really comment on the performance of our defense from a scheme or tackling standpoint until I see the video. Bottom line is we didn't get it done as a team. That's all I can say about that.
Question: Since you can't comment on it, would it be possible for coach Mendoza to come in here and talk? We're not on deadline.
Dodge: I don't think that would be a good idea. Ya'll can ask me anything about it.
Without anyone asking, Dodge went on to explain how Navy's triple option was able to connect early on last-second pitches from the quarterback to the halfbacks, and how Navy's fullbacks became more of a factor as the game wore on. Also UNT's defense committed to the pitch several times when either of Navy's two quarterbacks cut and ran. Simply put, UNT anticipated wrong too often.
Keep in mind, Dodge does not coach UNT's defense, but it sounds like he makes it his business to know what's going on or what's wrong.
What this means for Mendoza, who really knows.