“They are definitely a passing team with Mason Fine, so I’m going to try to hit him as hard as I can,” Bagner said.
Bagner, a senior, spent as much time in opponent’s backfield as any other Owl this season. A pass rushing specialist, his five sacks lead FAU.
That total puts Bagner halfway to his preseason goal of 10 on the year. Should he reach that goal, he’ll be in third place on FAU’s single-season sack list, behind two Trey Hendrickson seasons.
“I’ve got at least two more games to try to get to my goal,” Bagner said, “Where I’m at is good but I’m trying to be great.”
Bagner should have plenty of chances to add to his total on Thursday in Denton.
Fine is averaging 38.8 pass attempts per game. He leads Conference USA in most passing categories, including yards per game (311.9) and touchdowns (23).
“He pretty much does everything well,” safety Jalen Young said. “He’s a great quarterback. He can run. He’s a small guy, but he finds ways to do things that most can’t do.”
This year the Mean Green have done a decent job of protecting Fine. The 22 sacks allowed by North Texas on the season places the Mean Green in the middle of the pack among Conference USA teams. Sixteen of those sacks have come in conference play.
FAU and North Texas met twice last season, once in the regular season and a second time in the C-USA championship game, and the Owls didn’t have much trouble getting to Fine.
The nine sacks FAU recorded in the championship game are more than half of the Owls’ total for this entire season.
Bagner played in that championship game but didn’t record any of those sacks.
“We got (9) sacks in the championship game last year, so we’ll try to keep adding on to that,” Bagner said.