The North Texas Mean Green is a curious oddity when it comes to big time college football in the Dallas area. Nestled in Denton, just north of both Dallas and Forth Worth in one of the biggest recruiting hot beds in the state, and yet, they can’t seem to string together any success. They had some success under head coach Darryl Dickey when they first joined the Sun Belt Conference. But since back to back New Orleans bowls, they have not even been able to have a winning season. This year they are hoping to break the losing trend and capture a winning season.
Dan McCarney is heading into his 3rd season with the Mean Green and his goal when he took over the program was to reestablish a home field advantage. And he has done that at Apogee Stadium, as the Mean Green have played well at home, going 7-4 at home the last two seasons, which is a great mark considering they went 5-27 in the six years before. While there has been improvement each season under McCarney, this year will prove to be his toughest yet in Denton, he will be facing tougher competition and have to coach up a team that many figure won’t be a factor in Conference USA.
One area that will have some experience on the roster is quarterback, senior quarterback Derek Thompson looks to be the man in charge, but has had injury problems the past two seasons and there are questions whether or not he can stay healthy this year. If he does get injured then the favorite to take over for him would be Kansas transfer Brock Berglund. While it is an experienced spot on the roster there is a lot questions whether Thompson can move the Mean Green down the field. He will have some weapons around him such as an experienced group at running back led by senior Brandin Byrd and sophomore Antionne Jimmerson. If those two can steadily move the ball, then the Mean Green will be able to take a lot of pressure off the quarterback and let the game come to him.
If the running backs aren’t able to move the ball consistently, then look for the receivers to pick up some slack. Some would say this is the best group McCarney has had in his time in Denton. Led by seniors Brady Brown and Brelan Chancelor, they will look to move the ball down field and attack the secondary every chance they get. Hopefully with a good running game, this will be a good offensive unit and can hang with some of the higher scoring teams they will face this season. Everyone knows the key to a good running game and even a good passing game starts and ends with the offensive line. Usually the “big uglies” upfront are nameless players that nobody pays attention too until they make a mistake or draw a flag. But this year’s crop of linemen could be one of the top in Conference USA. If that holds true, then North Texas may surprise some people this year.
Offense is only half the battle and even the best offenses need help from time to time, but I don’t know how much help there will be on the defensive side of the ball for North Texas. The Defensive line is a very experienced unit, returning six players that made at least one start last year. If the defensive line can get a push and get pressure, then it will take pressure off the secondary, but even if they can’t get a push, just opening up a hole for the linebackers to make a play will be beneficial. The line backing corps is returning seven of its top eight from last year. Look for some senior leadership to show through with Zachary Orr and Will Wright being the gold standard for the unit.
The secondary is less experienced that the other units, but look for Marcus Trice, who is an Oklahoma transfer to step up and be one of the big playmakers in the defensive back field. While the unit is generally young, it does return everyone from last year, so there is some game experience to draw from. This could be a bigger question for the Mean Green, or it could be a quality unit that helps keeps them in ballgames late.
North Texas is going to be a tough team to predict because there are a handful of games that could go either way, they could wind up winning seven or more game, or they could squeak out five wins or less. If this group can get chemistry early in the year and finds a way to surprise some teams in their new conference then the sky is the limit for the Mean Green. I will choose to take a more conservative rout for this team; I figure they will wind up 5-7 this year, which is another improvement for McCarney and his team. They say it takes a coach at least four solid years to really see what he can or can’t do, and in year three, McCarney has North Texas on the brink of turning it around.
8/30- Idaho – W
9/7- @Ohio- L
9/14- Ball St- W
9/21- @Georgia- L
10/5- @Tulane – W
10/12- Mid Tenn – W
10/19- @La.Tech – L
10/26- @S.Mill – L
10/31- Rice – L
11/9- Utep – W
11/23- UTSA – L
11/30- @Tulsa- L
2013 Record: 5-7