North Texas Preview 2006 - Offense
Posted Aug 8, 2006

North Texas Mean Green Preview 2006 - UNT Offense

What you need to know ... The offense went into the tank last year with no production from the quarterbacks and a young, inexperienced line having all kinds of problems with its consistency. However, the running game wasn't bad and the pass protection wasn't horrible. Things should be better this year with Johnny Quinn leading a veteran receiving corps, Jamario Thomas ready to be one of the NCAA's top rushers again with a veteran line to work behind, and experienced quarterbacks that can't be any worse than they were last season.

Returning Leaders
Passing Daniel Meager:
101-202, 941 yds, 4 TD, 8 INT
Rushing: Jamario Thomas
89 carries, 361 yds, 0 TD
Receiving: Johnny Quinn
47 catches, 591 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Junior RB Jamario Thomas
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore QBs Daniel Meager and Matt Phillips
Unsung star on the rise: Junior OT Josh Alexander
Best pro prospect: Senior OG Dylan Lineberry
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Thomas, 2) Lineberry, 3) WR Johnny Quinn
Strength of the offense: Experience, Jamario Thomas
Weakness of the offense:

Chalk up last year to youth and inexperience. Both Daniel Meager and Matt Phillips played like freshmen, and neither took the job by storm this spring. They don't have to bomb away in the UNT zone-read offense, but they have to be more effective and push the ball down the field a little bit more than they did last season. JUCO transfer Woody Wilson is a viable option who'll be in the mix late this summer.
The key to the unit: Completion percentage. The starter has to be around 60% for the offense to do more. Completing more deep passes would be a big help.
Quarterback Rating: 4

Projected Starter
- Daniel Meager, Soph. - 101-202, 50%, 941 yds, 4 TD, 8 INT, 62 carries, 68 yds, 1 TD
The job was Meager's last year after Joel Byerly got booted off the team, and things weren't pretty. Meager never got the passing game going with only five games with more than 100 yards passing. He's a good runner and he can be accurate with his shorter throws, but he didn't show much on his deep passes and he only threw four touchdown passes. He'll battle with Matt Phillips for the starting job this fall.

Top Backups
- Matt Phillips, Soph. - 33-69, 47.8%, 448 yds, 4 TD, 5 INT, 1 rushing TD
Phillips stepped in for an ineffective Daniel Meager and was just as mediocre even though he had the team's best passing game of the season throwing for 217 yards against UL Monroe. He's not the runner that Meager is, but he has the potential to grow into a better passer.
- Woody Wilson, Jr.
The star JUCO transfer will get every shot to win the starting job this fall once he figures out the offense. He's by far the best runner of the three quarterback options and threw well last year for Coffeyville CC before breaking his collarbone.

Running Backs
There's nothing to worry about as long as Jamario Thomas is 100% healthy. College football's leading rusher in 2004 has a veteran line to work behind and enough talent to flirt with a 2,000-yard season if everything breaks his way. The backups are extremely small, but very, very fast. Deavin Cox moves over from defensive back to be the number two man, while scout teamer Evan Robertson will see a little time in blowouts. James Mitchell is a small, but effective fullback.
The key to the unit: Trusting Deavin Cox and Evan Robertson enough to give them carries so Jamario Thomas can stay fresh.
Running Back Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- Jamario Thomas, Jr. - 89 carries, 361 yds, 4.1 ypc
Thomas went from being the nation's leading rusher in 2004 averaging 189.9 yards per game with an NCAA freshman record five, 200-yard games, to an afterthought once Patrick Cobbs returned from his knee injury. He filled in a little bit early on highlighted by a 26-carry day in the blowout loss to LSU, but he couldn't get over a hamstring injury and eventually missed the final four games. He's not huge, but he can be a workhorse and he's tremendously quick when he gets a sliver of daylight.

- Fullback James Mitchell, Sr. - 2 carries, 9 yds, 6 catches, 33 yds, 1 TD
A power runner in 2004, he was used almost exclusively as a blocker last season. He has helped pave the way for some huge rushing seasons from Patrick Cobbs and Jamario Thomas despite only being 5-9 and 192 pounds. He can step in at tailback if needed.

Top Backups
- Deavin Cox, Jr.
It hasn't been easy getting carries in the North Texas rotation over the past few seasons, so the high school star running back ended up playing defensive back and on special teams last year. He's not all that big at 5-9, but he's very, very fast.
- Evan Robertson, RFr.
The top scout teamer of last year is very small, but very quick at 5-9 and 160 pounds. If used, he'll be most effective when he gets the ball on the outside.
- Fullback Keronna Henderson, Soph.
A 225 pounds, Henderson is a much bigger blocking option than starter James Mitchell. He won't see any carries, but he could grow into an effective cog in the running game.

If the quarterbacks can produce, the receivers are in place to make things happen led by speedy Johnny Quinn, who has led the team in receiving in each of the past three seasons. All of the top targets from last year return including speedster Joel Nwigwe to stretch the field, Zach Muzzy to make the underneath plays, and Brandon Jackson to do a little of everything. The tight end situation is solid when Beau Davidson returns from a shoulder injury to join blocker Robert Harmon.
The key to the unit: Making more big plays and getting more deep passes to Johnny Quinn.
Receiver Rating: 4.5

Projected Starters
- Johnny Quinn, Sr. - 47 catches, 591 yds, 12.6 ypc, 5 TD
Quinn was the one bright spot in the passing game last year and is now in a position to set the North Texas career receiving record after leading the team for the last three seasons with 130 catches for 2,085 yards and 17 touchdowns. He's a star sprinter for the track team with consistent, good hands catching a pass in 36 straight games. Now he needs someone to consistently get him the ball.  

- Zach Muzzy, Sr. - 9 catches, 87 yds, 9.7 ypc
Muzzy didn't make the jump up in production expected of him after a decent 2004, but that's mostly because of the problems at quarterback. He's a quick, shifty target who has also been one of the team's top kick returners.

- Tight end Robert Harmon, Sr. - 8 catches, 92 yds, 11.5 ypc
More of another offensive lineman than a receiver, the 265-pound senior also showed last year that he can catch. He'll combine with Beau Davidson for the starting job and will see plenty of action in two tight end sets.

Top Backups
- Joel Nwigwe, Sr. - 18 catches, 255 yds, 14.2 ypc, 1 TD
The team's third leading receiver last season had one of the team's best receiving day catching seven passes for 117 yards and a touchdown against Florida Atlantic. While not as fast as Johnny Quinn, he can fly on the outside and is a great third option.
- Brandon Jackson
, Jr. - 22 catches, 225 yds, 2 TD
Jackson finished second on the team in catches highlighted by an eight-grab, 113-yard, one touchdown day in the loss to UL Monroe. He's one of the team's bigger receivers and turned into a viable deep threat this spring playing behind Zach Muzzy.
- Tight end Beau Davidson, Sr. - 1 catch, 6 yards
The 230-pound senior can block, but his worth is as a more mobile receiving threat than Robert Harmon, even though he didn't show it off much last year suffering a shoulder injury that knocked him out of the second half of the season. He'll be back ready by fall..

Offensive Linemen
The line suffered through some major growing pains last year with only one returning starter. The run blocking wasn't bad and there's hope for a big improvement this year with four returning starters led by legitimate All-America candidate Dylan Lineberry at guard. Josh Alexander is a rising star at tackle and there should be a good chemistry as the season goes on if Adam Venegas can fill in at left guard.

The key to the unit: Develop quality backups to have some sort of a rotation and hope for all the lumps taken last year to pay off with a more consistent year.
Offensive Line Rating: 5

Projected Starters
- OT
Jeremy Brown, Jr.
Brown is good enough to find a starting spot somewhere in the mix combining with Josh Alexander on the left side. At 299 pounds, he's bigger than Alexander and could end up playing guard if
- OG Adam Venegas, Jr.
The former defensive lineman will push for Jason May's former job at left guard. At 305 pounds, he's a big, physical option for the running game. Now he needs to prove he can become a consistent starter. 
- C Chad Rose, Soph.
Rose went through some freshman growing pains taking over for all-star Andy Brewster in the middle, but he started every game and is expected to play like a veteran this year. He's the biggest center option at 6-3 and 285 pounds.
- OG Dylan Lineberry, Sr.
Easily the team's best offensive lineman and one of the best in the conference, the 310-pound senior is a crushing run blocker with way too much strength for most of the smaller Sun Belt linemen to handle. He'll be the one the team runs behind.
- OT Joel Foster, Sr.
One of the line's most versatile blockers, he can play either tackle position getting the start this season on the right side. He's not all that big at 268 pounds, but the former defensive end is quick.

Top Backups
- T Josh Alexander, Jr.
The 292-pound Alexander took over in the final seven games at left tackle and should be a star despite missing spring ball with an injury. He's the team's best pass protector and is emerging as a strong run blocker, but he has to get the starting job back on the left side.
- T Chris Eidd, RFr.
At 6-3 and 320 pounds, Eidd is a far, far bigger right tackle than the 268-pound Joel Foster. He'll likely see time in short yardage and pure running situations until he grows into a decent pass blocker.

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