CFN Take: North Texas Survives FIU
2014 North Texas Mean Green ...
Head Coach: Dan McCarney
Nov. 22 at North Texas 17, FIU 14
2014 Schedule |
Aug. 30 at Texas L 38-7
Sep. 6 SMU W 43-6
Sep. 13 Louisiana Tech L 42-21
Sep. 20 Nicholls State W 77-3
Sep. 27 OPEN DATE
Oct. 4 at Indiana L 49-24
Oct. 11 at UAB L 56-21
Oct. 18 Southern Miss L 30-20
Oct. 25 at Rice L 41-21
Nov. 1 OPEN DATE
Nov. 8 Florida Atlantic W 31-10
Nov. 15 at UTEP L 35-17
Nov. 22 FIU W 17-14
Nov. 29 at UTSA
And You Care Because … Both offenses struggled, but North Texas was able to get up early on a 54-yard touchdown run from Reggie Pegram and a four-yard Marcus Smith catch. FIU managed to get on the board using defense and special teams, getting a 74-yard Richard Leonard punt return for a score in the first and a 71-yard pick six from Jeremiah McKinnon in the second. North Texas finally broke the tie late in the third on a 36-yard Trevor Moore field goal, and neither offense was able to do much else.
What Else? Total offense: North Texas 266 – FIU 147
- North Texas RB Reggie Pegram ran 26 times for 114 yards and a score
- FIU QB Alex McGough completed 11-of-25 passes for 56 yards and three picks
- North Texas QB Andrew McNulty completed 9-of-20 passes for 105 yards and a score with two picks
Game Rating: C-
Nov. 15 at UTEP 35, North Texas 17
And You Care Because … UTEP came up with a 28-0 halftime lead on three Nathan Jeffery touchdown runs and a 42-yard Aaron Jones dash. North Texas fought back on two touchdowns from Jeffrey Wilson, but a 54-yard Jones scoring dash kept the Miners easily ahead.
What Else? UTEP RB Aaron Jones ran 16 times for 177 yards and two scores, and he caught three passes for 15 yards
- North Texas QB Andrew McNulty completed 16-of-28 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown with a pick, and ran 12 times for a team-high 67 yards
- UTEP QB Jameill Showers completed 8-of-11 passes for 87 yards, and ran four times for 33 yards
- Total yards: UTEP 438 – North Texas 207
Game Rating: D+
Nov. 8 at North Texas 31, Florida Atlantic 10
And You Care Because … Antoinne Jimmerson ran for a 41-yard touchdown and Andrew McNulty threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Smith and ran for a four-yard score on the way to a 21-3 North Texas lead. FAU’s offense struggled and sputtered all game long outside of a third quarter drive finishing with a 34-yard Alex Deleon touchdown catch. UNT scored ten unanswered points in the fourth to put it away.
What Else? Total yards: North Texas 342 – Florida Atlantic 197
- North Texas RB Antoinne Jimmerson ran 17 times for 111 yards and a score
- FAU QB Jaquez Johnson completed 14-of-25 passes for 99 yards and a score with a pick
- North Texas QB Andrew McNulty completed 12-of-16 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown with an interception, and ran four times for 14 yards and a score
Game Rating: C-
Oct. 25 at Rice 41, North Texas 21
And You Care Because … Down 21-14 after North Texas got a second touchdown from Carlos Harris, Rice scored 27 unanswered points highlighted by a 60-yard pick six from Ryan Pollard and short touchdown runs from Darik Dillard and Jowan Davis. Rice started out the scoring with an 88-yard touchdown catch from Jordan Taylor on its first play from scrimmage, and Davis added a ten-yard scoring run in the first quarter, but UNT answered with a 100-yard kickoff return for a score from Darvin Kidsey. The Mean Green offense, though, stalled in the second half.
What Else? Total yards: Rice 421 – North Texas 216
- Rice QB Driphus Jackson completed 13-of-26 passes for 233 yards and a score, and ran nine times for 26 yards
- North Texas ran 33 times for 26 yards and a score
- Rice came up with four sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss
Game Rating: C
Oct. 18 Southern Miss 30, at North Texas 20
And You Care Because … Southern Miss started out the scoring with a 40-yard Michael Thomas touchdown catch, and got the first of three Corey Acosta field goals. North Texas came up with a two-yard Antoinne Jimmerson scoring run and two Trevor Moore field goals to go up 13-10 in the first half, but Southern Miss controlled the game the rest of the way. Casey Martin and George Payne each scored in the third, with Payne’s 19-yard touchdown catch breaking a 20-20 tie, and Acosta’s final field goal put it away.
What Else? Time of possession: Southern Miss 37:11 – North Texas 22:49
- Southern Miss RB Ito Smith ran 12 times for 95 yards
- North Texas WR Carlos Harris caught 15 passes for 216 yards
- Total yards: Southern Miss 506 – North Texas 395
Game Rating: B
Oct. 11 at UAB 56, North Texas 21
And You Care Because … UAB exploded to a 28-0 lead on a 40-yard Jontavious Morris fumble return for a score and a Lamarcus Farmer interception return for a touchdown as part of five North Texas turnovers that made the game a laugher. The Blazer defense would be at it again in the third on a Darius Williams interception return for a touchdown, but the offense got into the act, too. Cody Clements threw two touchdown passes, including a 74-yarder to Jamarcus Nelson, and he ran for another. North Texas moved the ball, when it wasn’t turning the ball over, getting a 27-yard touchdown run from Antoinne Jimmerson and scoring passes from Dajon Williams and Andrew McNulty.
What Else? Turnovers: North Texas 5 – UAB 0
- UAB QB Cody Clements completed 17-of-22 passes for 316 yards and two scores, and ran nine times for 24 yards and a score
- North Texas RB Antoinne Jimmerson ran 13 times for 104 yards and a touchdown
- North Texas QBs Andrew McNulty and Dajon Williams combined to complete 20-of-35 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns with Williams towing two pick sixes.
Game Rating: D
Oct. 4 at Indiana 49, North Texas 24
And You Care Because … Indiana got up 21-0 in the first quarter on two Nate Sudfeld touchdown passes and a one-yard Tevin Coleman scoring run. North Texas got on the board late in the first half on the first of three Dajon Williams touchdown passes, but IU came out of the locker room roaring with two straight scoring drives with D’Angelo Roberts scoring from 47 and three yards out. Sudfeld put IU up 42-10 on a 76-yard pass play to Shane Wynn.
What Else? Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld completed 23-of-29 passes for 230 yards and three scores, and Shane Wynn caught five passes for 127 yards and two scores
- Total yards: Indiana 593 – North Texas 348
- North Texas WR Carlos Harris caught 11 passes for 120 yards and a score
- Indiana RB Tevin Coleman ran 17 times for 150 yards and a score, and D’Angelo Roberts ran 14 times for 102 yards and two touchdowns
Game Rating: D+
Sept. 20 North Texas 77, Nicholls State 3
And You Care Because … North Texas got back on track by taking care of business against overmatched Nicholls State of the FCS. The Mean Green moved the ball without resistance, scoring six offensive touchdowns in the first half. Testament to North Texas’ complete dominance in Denton, it also added a pair of pick-sixes and a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown from Darvin Kidsy.
What Else? Dan McCarney chose the right opponent for young QB Dajon Williams to log his first career start. The redshirt freshman went a tight 11-of-14 for 176 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
- The Colonels used a pair of quarterbacks, Kalen Henderson and Beaux Hebert, neither of whom was effective against the North Texas defenders. Henderson and Hebert threw three picks, and had just one completion beyond 20 yards.
- Williams flashed his athleticism by also leading the Mean Green on the ground. In just four carries, he zipped for 68 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
- In a remarkable disparity of results, Nicholls State controlled the ball for more than 40 minutes, yet still managed just a field goal. Turnovers and stalled drives kept the Colonels from ever making this game competitive.
Game Rating: F
Sept. 11 Louisiana Tech 42, North Texas 21
And You Care Because … Louisiana Tech stunned North Texas with a 28-0 lead that held up into the third quarter. Cody Sokol finished with five touchdown passes including two to Paul Turner, and Kenneth Dixon ran for a two-yard score in the rout. The Mean Green were down 42-7 in the final few minutes before scoring two late touchdowns.
What Else? This is the second straight game Louisiana Tech has looked solid. The offense game out humming with Cody Sokol spreading the ball around well, while the defense came up with a gem. However, the North Texas offense helped the cause.
- The North Texas performance against Texas was a disaster, but that was slightly expected. This was awful in the first half with the O not able to move. It finished with 279 yards total with one good drive before late – 135 of the yards came in the final eight minutes when the game was a rout.
- Louisiana Tech QB Cody Sokol completed 20-of-31 passes for 243 yards and five touchdowns with a pick.
- North Texas QB Josh Greer completed 13-of-27 passes, but they only went for 77 yards. The passing game didn’t move.
Game Rating: C-
Sept. 6 at North Texas 43, SMU 6
And You Care Because … North Texas made up for the problems against Texas by scoring the first 43 points of the game helped by five takeaways from the defense including a 31-yard Jarrian Roberts fumble return for a score. Trevor Moore nailed five field goals, and Reggie Pegram, Antoinne Jimmerson and Erick Evans all ran for scores highlighted by Evans’ 53-yard score. SMU didn’t get on the board until the final second on a 33-yard touchdown pass. UNT committed 15 penalties, but it held SMU to convert 1-of-11 third down tries.
Game Rating: D
Aug. 30 at Texas 38, North Texas 7
And You Care Because … Texas took a 28-0 lead on two short touchdown runs from Malcolm Brown in the first half and got short scores from Davis Ash and a catch from John Harris, but it was the defense that dominated. North Texas managed just 94 yards of total offense any only scored on a fumble recovery.
What Else? You want to talk about an attitude, the Texas defense allowed North Texas to complete just 3-of-17 passes for 15 yards with four picks. The secondary swarmed from the start while the run defense didn’t allow a thing. UNT’s longest play of the day was just eight yards.
- David Ash wasn’t flawless, but he was fine completing 19-of-34 passes for 190 yards and a score with a rushing touchdown.
- Texas didn’t turn the pass rush loos, but Hassan Ridgeway did his part with two sacks and five tackles, and the secondary took advantage with four interceptions including a 28-yard touchdown from Demarco Cobbs.
- What went right for North Texas? The punting was solid with Blake Macek and Eric Keena combining to average 42 yards a boot.
Game Rating: D+
At this time last year, North Texas was attempting to dig out of an eight-year ditch of losing seasons and failed expectations. Today, the program wants to show that its breakout 2013 campaign wasn’t a fleeting, one-season aberration.
The Mean Green turned heads in its Conference USA debut. Pegged in the preseason to finish fifth in the West Division, it wound up 9-4 and champions of the Heart of Dallas Bowl. In his third season, noted program-builder Dan McCarney successfully eradicated the culture of losing in Denton. Now the coach, who signed a five-year extension in February, is working hard to make sure his team keeps its edge.
North Texas won a bunch of games in 2013 on the backs of seasoned veterans. Many of those pivotal players, though, have used up their eligibility, leaving the team with myriad gaping holes that must be filled in the offseason. The Mean Green is moving forward without its quarterback, leading rusher, top two receivers and seven quality defensive starters. It’ll be all hands on deck for the next few months as the team tries to rebuild in time for the Aug. 30 opener at Texas.
While the Mean Green will once again be terrific up front, for whom will Cyril Lemon and Mason Y’Barbo be blocking? North Texas is hosting an offseason free-for-all to replace QB Derek Thompson, and top playmakers Brandin Byrd and Brelan Chancellor are gone as well. The situation on defense is equally dire, if not more so. Since the all-star at each level, DE Aaron Bellazin, LB Zach Orr and FS Marcus Trice, was a senior, UNT is putting out an APB for new defensive leaders.
McCarney has his system and his philosophy firmly in place in Denton. In fact, he’s ahead of schedule. It seems inevitable, though, that North Texas will take a step back in 2014 following the graduation of so many key players on offense and defense. Of course, if the Mean Green is able to avoid the precipitous decline, go ahead and mark it down as another victory for McCarney and his once-broken program.
What to watch for on offense: Who’s got next? No, Derek Thompson wasn’t great, but he was a three-year starter at quarterback. His experience and leadership will be missed. The battle for Thompson’s successor promises to be long and unlikely to be decided before August. Junior Andrew McNulty was last year’s backup, but redshirt freshman Dajon Williams, true freshman Connor Means and JUCO transfer Josh Greer are getting every opportunity to win the job. Since the Mean Green can run the ball in a conservative approach, the staff will anoint the safest candidate.
What to watch for on defense: The new-look D-line. The secondary is set. Derek Akunne anchors the second level. The front wall? Shaky. The program is rebuilding up front with four new starters. Tackle Alexander Lincoln and ends Chad Polk and Darryl Mason are the most experienced upperclassmen of the holdovers. All three linemen should see a spike in reps. No matter who wins jobs, North Texas will be noticeably smaller in the trenches now that 320-pound tackle Richard Abbe has graduated. After finishing No. 15 nationally versus the run, the Mean Green will be easier to solve in 2104.
This team will be far better if … it keeps creating a slew of turnovers. The Mean Green didn’t house any sure-fire NFL players on last year’s D, yet it ranked eighth nationally in scoring in 2013. A key reason for the success was a slew of takeaways, 34 in fact. North Texas will face even stiffer defensive challenges this fall, making picks and strips more important than ever. If the school can’t successfully manhandle the other guy, it’ll have to compensate with another season of thievery.
The Schedule: Starting out the Charlie Strong era at Texas might not be the right way to usher in the season, but UNT
gets its share of winnable games the rest of the way, starting with the AAC’s SMU before opening up Conference USA play against Louisiana Tech. Nicholls State will be a light scrimmage before getting a week off to prepare for the high-powered Indiana team that should have one of the nation’s most dangerous offenses. And then things calm down, but the date with the Hoosiers kicks off a run of three road games in four weeks. Closing out at UTEP and UTSA shouldn’t be too bad – the Mean Green don’t leave the state of Texas after October 11th. Missing Marshall, WKU and Middle Tennessee from the East is fantastic.
Best Offensive Player: Senior OG Cyril Lemon. North Texas wants to be more physical than the opponent on the other side of the ball. Lemon is the embodiment of the team’s offensive philosophy. He’s a 6-3, 304-pound road-grader who will also keep the pocket clean for the quarterback. The three-year starter is coming off his best season in Denton, capped by a spot on the All-Conference USA First Team. So confident are the coaches in Lemon’s ability and versatility that they might consider using him at tackle in the fall.
Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Derek Akunne. The Mean Green is pining for defensive leaders in 2014, a role Akunne is poised to fill. He provides size and experience to a side of the ball that’ll light on both when the season begins. Akunne has range and a nose for the ball, as shown by his 90 tackles in back-to-back years. He’s not quite former teammate Zach Orr, but he is veteran the coaches can count to make stops, week-in and week-out.
Key player to a successful season: Junior RB Antoinne Jimmerson. The Mean Green wants to play ball-control in 2014, especially with the challenges being faced under center and on defense. Jimmerson has the right profile to eat up clock and wear down opposing defenses. The north-south back needs to be this year’s version of Brandin Byrd for the offense. If Jimmerson—or senior Reggie Pegram—can barrel forward for at least 1,200 yards rushing, it’s going to remove a lot of pressure from the young quarterback and the rebuilt D.
The season will be a success if ... the Mean Green plays 13 games. Prior to last season, North Texas had gone nearly a decade without appearing in a bowl game. Now it has a chance to make it to two straight. If the program can finish above .500, it’ll be a particularly poignant achievement considering the wholesale turnover taking place on offense and defense. After the opener with Texas, there’s no reason why UNT can’t be competitive in every other contest.
Key game: Sept. 6 vs. SMU. North Texas is likely to be Charlie Strong’s first victim as the head coach of Texas. But how will the Mean Green respond to an 0-1 start? It’ll be important for Dan McCarney’s team to rebound as fast as possible, beginning with a visit from a local foe, SMU. North Texas will be seeking more than just bragging rights when the Mustangs make the 40-mile trip to Apogee Stadium. It’ll be after the type of win that stays in the minds of undecided recruits in the region.
2013 Fun Stats:
- Sacks: North Texas 39 – Opponents 11
- Third-down conversions: North Texas 47%– Opponents 36%
- Rushing touchdowns: North Texas 31 - Opponents 10
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