Coming Home: Andrew McNulty Looks To Leave Mark In Hometown Return
Special Opportunity Awaits McNulty, North Texas In ESPNU Matchup Against Iowa
DENTON — Senior quarterback Andrew McNulty grew up blocks away from Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium. Years later, coming off perhaps his best performance in a North Texas uniform, the Iowa City, Iowa, native returns to face his hometown team on a national stage, when the Mean Green travel to face Iowa for a Saturday afternoon matchup on ESPNU.
“I always thought it would be really cool to be able to play in that stadium,” McNulty said. “I didn’t know what my future would hold as far as where I was getting to play. That’s definitely the case. A lot of people are pretty die-hard Iowa Hawkeye fans, especially growing up in Iowa City. Like I said, I always thought it would be a very cool opportunity, but I didn’t know what the future would hold. Now, it’s cool to get that chance, so I’m looking forward to it.”
McNulty’s father, Jim, played football for Iowa, where he was good friends and teammates with North Texas head coach Dan McCarney. McNulty also remembers attending Iowa games growing up, as well leading the hometown high school, Iowa City, to a state championship as a junior and another state championship as a senior, and he relishes the opportunity to lead his team into a tough environment, looking to leave another mark in his hometown.
“Don’t make anything more out of it than it is,” said McCarney of what he will tell his quarterback leading up to the game. “It’s a heck of a challenge and it’s a heck of a game. It’s one of the great atmospheres in college football. It’s a defense that’s going to try to light you up, sack you and beat you up physically, but so is every other defense he will play this year. I will tell him to not try to do anything more than what we ask him to do within our system and in the preparation leading up to this game. Andrew McNulty never lacks for any motivation. The same guy always shows up.”
“It will be pretty special to me, having grown up right down the road,” McNulty said. “It might be one of those things where I take a minute to take it in, when I first step on the field in warmup, and then after that, I’m going to focus my time and effort on the game, just trying to lead the offense and put this team in the best position to win. It will be special, and I look forward to the opportunity.”
Despite the 0-2 start, McNulty said the offense took a significant step forward, from Week 1 to Week 2, as the offense averaged nearly eight yards per play and rolled up 478 yards of total offense in a 38-24 loss to Rice. McNulty, himself, threw for a career-high 303 yards, the most yards in a game by a North Texas quarterback since Derek Thompson in 2013.
The Mean Green seemed to find more of a rhythm against Rice, particularly when they went tempo, such as the 15-play, 74-yard opening drive that ended in a 23-yard field goal. McNulty also had more success in throwing the ball downfield and creating explosive plays, including touchdown passes of 33 yards and 93 yards to senior wide receiver Carlos Harris.
“I felt like I was seeing it better and we were executing better,” McNulty said. “We found that rhythm that we know that we can get in. It was a rhythm that we struggled to find for a lot of the game in the first week against SMU. Once we finally got into that rhythm, you can see things start to click and you felt it when you were out there. That rhythm is something we found a lot in practice, and we have to make sure that we’re going out and executing and finding that rhythm on Saturday.”
Looking ahead to Iowa, McNulty has played in front of 90,000-plus in road games against Georgia in 2013 and Texas this past season, and he will draw upon those experiences, entering his fifth career road start in 70,585-seat Kinnick Stadium Saturday, his first against a power-five opponent.
“Any time you have a crowd like that, whether they’re for you or against you, it’s going to get you juiced up,” McNulty said. “We’re going to come ready to play. We’re going to work on executing all week and then go out and try to do it on Saturday, too.”