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CFN Take: North Texas & Byrd Rock Tulsa
Posted Nov 30, 2013

2013 North Texas Mean Green ... Head Coach: Dan McCarney

North Texas Mean Green

2013 Record: 8-4
8/31 Idaho W 40-6
9/7 at Ohio L 27-21
9/14 Ball State W 34-27
9/21 at Georgia L 45-21
10/5 at Tulane W 24-21
10/12 Middle Tenn W 34-7
10/19 at Louisiana Tech W 28-13
10/26 at Southern Miss W 55-14
11/2 Rice W 28-16
11/9 UTEP W 41-7
11/23 UTSA L 21-13
11/30 at Tulsa W 42-10
North Texas 42, at Tulsa 10
Basically … Brandin Byrd ran wild for North Texas with touchdown runs from ten, 91 and two yards out as part of a run of 35 unanswered points. Tulsa held a 10-7 lead with the defense coming through with a 97-yard fumble return for a score from Will Barrow, but that was it. The offense was stuffed all game long, and the defense was run over for 377 yards with Antoinne Jimmerson adding touchdown runs from 12 and 31 yards for the Mean Green.
- North Texas RB Brandin Byrd ran 26 times for 251 yards and three scores, and Antoinne Jimmerson ran 12 times for 85 yards and two scores.
- Tulsa RB Trey Watts ran 19 times for 114 yards.
- Total Yards: North Texas 550, Tulsa 236
- North Texas QB Derek Thompson completed 17-of-26 passes for 173 yards with a pick.

at North Texas 41, UTEP 7
Basically … North Texas destroyed UTEP with its defense, and the special teams helped out with a blocked punt for a score. Antoinne Jimmerson ran for a five-yard score, and Brandin Byrd tore off rushing scores from two and 82 yards out for a 28-0 lead, and then UTEP got on the board late in the third with a 22-yard Jordan Leslie catch. The Mean Green scored the final 13 points of the game with two field goals from Zach Paul and a 42-yard Carlos Harris touchdown catch.
- North Texas RB Brandin Byrd ran 18 times for 202 yards and two touchdowns.
- UTEP ran 42 times for 56 yards. North Texas ran 43 times for 317 yards.
- UTEP QB Mack Leftwich completed 14-of-20 passes for 128 yards with a touchdown and a pick.
- North Texas QB Derek Thompson completed 10-of-24 passes for 154 yards with a score.

at North Texas 28, Rice 16
Basically … North Texas became bowl eligible helped by a terrific fourth quarter goal line stand – stopping the Owls eight times on the series – for a defense that held the Owls off the board after the second quarter. Rice got up 16-7 on a Taylor McHargue 32-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Taylor, but the Mean Green scored 21 unanswered points on a 42-yard Antoinne Jimmerson touchdown run in the second and a 46-yard scoring pass in the third. Brelan Chancellor added a 65-yard punt return for a score and Zach Orr returned a fumble 55 yards for a score.
- Rice outgained North Texas 355 yards to 253, but the Mean Green was +2 in turnover margin and got the special teams score from Chancellor.
- UNT’s Antoinne Jimmerson ran eight times for 62 yards and a score and caught just the one pass for 46 yards and a touchdown.
- Rice RB Charles Ross led all rushers with 101 yards on 18 carries.
- Rice converted just 2-of-13 third down chances. North Texas converted 7-of-15 tries.

at North Texas 34, Middle Tennessee 7
Basically … The North Texas defense showed up in a big way, allowing a five-yard Austin Grammer touchdown run to tie it at seven early in the second quarter, and that was it. The Mean Green overcame three turnovers and scored 27 unanswered points with a 20-yard pick six from Lairamie Lee, the second Reggie Pegram touchdown run and a one-yard score from Brandin Byrd. Zach Paul added two short field goals.
- Just when it seemed like North Texas was going to bow out of the bowl hunt with two straight losses and three in the last four, it came up with a brilliant performance to blast Middle Tennessee. The defense didn’t allow anything through the air, using pressure to limit the Blue Raiders to 66 passing yards and force three turnovers. Derek Thompson threw two picks, but he completed 13-of-19 passes for 113 yards, and the ground game rumbled for 303 yards, helping UNT to hold on to the ball for almost 38 minutes.
- Middle Tennessee didn’t show up offensively for the third straight week. The Blue Raiders have come up with 34 points over the last three weeks with no passing game against the Mean Green. Logan Kilgore completed all eight of his passes, but they didn’t go anywhere with just 30 yards. Austin Grammer came in, and the results weren’t any better completing 6-of-22 passes for 36 yards with a pick, but he led the team with 106 yards and a touchdown. The O needs to find more pop in a hurry with Marshall up next and the season slipping away.

at Tulane 24, North Texas 21
Basically … Carlos Santos hit a 37-yard field goal with no time left on the clock to give Tulane the win and hold off a late North Texas rally. The Green Wave opened up the scoring on a six-yard Justyn Shackleford touchdown catch in the second, and they scored on a blocked field goal for a score from Derrick Strozier and a 59-yard pick six from Lorenzo Doss within two minutes in the third quarter, but the Mean Green rallied back with two Derek Thompson touchdown passes including a 62-yarder to Darnell Smith. But Tulane answered with the game-winning drive.
- Lost in the win for Tulane was an offense that didn’t go anywhere. Orleans Darkwa and the running game were shut down, with the Green Wave finishing with just 94 rushing yards, and Nick Montana threw for just 182 yards, but the defense and special teams came through when needed, and the O got the job done late.
- 11 penalties and two picks weren’t the reason North Texas lost, but they didn’t help. The defense dominated, and Derek Thompson was terrific in the late comeback, but just when the team finally got the tie, it couldn’t hold to force overtime. The Mean Green didn’t give the game away, but this was one they should’ve had. This will hurt in the conference race as the year goes on.

at Georgia 45, North Texas 21
Basically … Georgia got all it could handle thanks to poor special teams, with North Texas scoring off a blocked punt and helped by a 99-yard kickoff return for a score from Brelan Chancellor, but with the score tied at 21, everything started to click. The Bulldogs scored 24 unanswered points with Aaron Murray running for a one-yard score and throwing his third touchdown pass of the game. Murray and Reggie Davis set a school-record with a 98-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, but North Texas answered with a 20-yard Darnell Smith touchdown catch. It was the only Mean Green offensive score of the game.
- Georgia was fine. It didn’t look good for a while with the score tied at 21 in the third quarter, but the defense did a terrific job and the offense moved the ball. The two special teams breakdowns were the issue, but the Dawgs ended up outgaining the Mean Green 641 yards to 245 and gave up just seven yards rushing.
- There were some missed plays, and there wasn’t much positive after allowing 641 yards, but North Texas Derek Akunne came up with 12 tackles with a forced fumble and corner Kenny Buyers held his own at times with ten tackles with two broken up passes along with a recovery of Akunne’s forced fumble.
- Aaron Murray is unflappable. He threw a pick, and he was put in some bad spots, but he completed 22-of-30 passes for 408 yards and three touchdowns with a rushing score.
- The UNT defense did a nice job of bottling up Todd Gurley, keeping him to 91 yards on 21 carries. The defensive front was active, and while it didn’t get to Murray, it held its own against the Bulldog ground attack.

at North Texas 34, Ball State 27, Sept. 14
Basically … Derek Thompson ran for a 26-yard touchdown and Zach Paul hit three field goals as North Texas rallied back from a 20-3 first quarter deficit to outscore Ball State 31-7 the rest of the way. The Cardinals got up early on the first of two Keith Wenning touchdown passes to Willie Snead, and were helped by a 77-yard touchdown run from Horactio Banks, but the offense was shut out in the second half.
- Sort of quietly, North Texas is looking really, really strong. The defense needed a quarter to wake up, but it did a terrific job of taking the ball away and squashing Ball State drive after Ball State drive. The Mean Green defense might have bent, but it came up with five takeaways.
- The turnovers killed the Cardinals, especially in the second half. Keith Wenning threw for 333 yards and two scores, but he also gave up two picks. The offense worked, but the mistakes cost the team the game.
- UNT seems to have a nice balance on offense, and it’s doing a good job of mixing up the running game. Derek Thompson can’t be a main runner – he’s too valuable throwing the ball – but he’s dangerous whenever he takes off.
- The Cardinals have to blow off this loss in a hurry. It was a bad game from a defense that played well the week before against Army, but the offense shouldn’t have a problem against Eastern Michigan next week. With a win over the Eagles, and then Toledo, all will be fine and this won’t matter. However, this could eventually sting in terms of at-large bowl bids.

at Ohio 27, North Texas 21, Sept. 7
Basically … Ohio used a couple of fourth-quarter field goals from Matt Green to slip past North Texas. The Bobcats relied on big plays throughout their home opener, getting a 75-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Tettleton and a 42-yard interception return from LB Jovon Johnson.
- Ohio's feature back, Beau Blankenship, got help on the ground in the win from senior Ryan Boykin. Boykin led the Bobcats with 93 yards on 19 carries.
- Bobcat LB Ben Russell has had an active start to his sophomore season in Athens. He registered nine tackles versus the Mean Green, including a sack of Derek Thompson.
- Thompson is still suffering from many of the inconsistencies that plagued him a year ago in Denton. He was intercepted twice on Saturday night, and only threw for 195 yards.
- The Ohio D did a nice job of bottling up a deep and underrated group of North Texas running backs. The Mean Green only managed 104 yards and a 2.7 yard-per-carry average.

at North Texas 40, Idaho 6, Aug. 31
Basically … Idaho scored first on a six-yard Jake Manley scoring grab on the opening drive, and then it was all North Texas with 40 unanswered points. Derek Thompson threw for 349 yards and two touchdowns including an 85-yarder to Brelan Chancellor in the second and a 30-yarder to Darius Terrell in the fourth. Brandin Byrd ran for two scores.
- It was a sloppy game, but it worked out well for the Mean Green. The two teams combined for 18 penalties and five turnovers, with Idaho making the biggest mistakes.
- Derek Thompson was nearly perfect. The UNT quarterback completed 23-of-27 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns as he made every right read and every good decision. Idaho didn’t get to him enough, and he took advantage.
- Idaho had some success throwing the ball with Jake Manley hitting on his short-to-midrange plays, but the three fumbles and the 11 penalties were a killer to get anything going. The Vandals couldn’t come up with anything positive after the first quarter.
- The one bright spot for the Vandals was punter Austin Rehkow. The freshman bombed away averaging 47.3 yards per kick putting two inside the 20.

Spring Analysis

Why To Get Excited … third-year head coach Dan McCarney has the Mean Green moving in the right direction ever so gradually. No, it’s not always evident in the standings, but North Texas is a better and deeper team than it was before McCarney got to Denton. It’s a long process, but the needle is pointing in the direction.

Why To Be Grouchy … the program’s postseason drought has now reached eight years. The Mean Green hasn’t bowled since 2004, leaving the fan base a little tired of moral victories. The program would benefit from the addition of a few more playmakers, especially after scoring more than 24 points just once in 11 games with FBS opponents.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … improving the overall efficiency of the offense. North Texas would move the ball at times last season, but too often stalled at the least opportune moments in a game. The Mean Green was a dismal 103rd nationally in red zone touchdowns, and 116th when attempting to convert on third downs.

Non-Conference Games: Idaho, at Ohio, Ball State, at Georgia
Games Against the East: Middle Tennessee, at Southern Miss
Realistic Best Case Record: 6-6
Worst Case Record: 1-11
Likely Finish: 2-10

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Idaho, UTSA

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Ohio, Ball State, at Georgia, at Tulane, Middle Tennessee, at Louisiana Tech, at Southern Miss, Rice, UTEP, at Tulsa

Schedule Analysis: The Mean Green should be better, but the record probably won’t show it unless they can handle a few 50/50 games at home. Middle Tennessee, Ball State and UTEP could all go either way, and UNT needs to win them all with a run of four road games in five and finishing up the regular season with a trip to Tulsa. The late part of the season is helped by not having any November road games until the finale, but there can’t be any mistakes. Throw in away games at Ohio, Georgia and Louisiana Tech, and Idaho and UTSA become must wins.

Team Concerns For 2013: Points. The offense moved the ball without much of a problem averaging close to 400 yards per game, but it couldn't close out drives with enough points failing to score more than 24 in every game but two. The receiving corps needs to replace a few key parts and quarterback Derek Thompson needs to be more efficient and more effective, especially in the red zone. The special teams, especially the return games, have to be far better after finishing last in the Sun Belt in punt returns and 104th in the nation in kickoff returns.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Offensive linemen. Dan McCarney likes his offensive linemen, and after a year when the Mean Green front five was so strong in pass protection, he knows how to coach them. JUCO transfers Justin Manu at tackle and Shawn McKinney at center are at least ready to step in and help out with the depth, while guards Harrison Sorge, Dominic Walker and Hunter Siddons will be starters in three years. JUCO transfer Brock Berglund is an interesting option to at least fight for the No. 2 job.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 104. That Class Was Heavy On ... The defensive front. Dan McCarney is a defensive coach by nature, and while his group made strides last year, now he wants to improve for the next few years especially at tackle. This will be a class based on variety with a sprinkling of bodies for all spots except for linebacker, which will be the focus in 2013. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 110. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive backs. Dan McCarney likes linemen and wants to load up on the offensive front, but with little time to work, he didn’t do much of anything for the lines. There’s no star power whatsoever in this group, and for the second straight season the program has gone strongest in the secondary with corner Freddie Warner the best of the bunch and Kerry Swarn a long, tall safety with good upside. There isn’t much immediate help from the JUCO ranks.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 117. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive backs. North Texas hasn't played defense in several years, and while the team is still growing and still needs big seasons out of previous classes, head coach Todd Dodge is looking for a big impact from the JUCO ranks with safeties Jamison Hughes and Ryan Dowling and corners Steven Ford, D'Leon McCord and DeAndre Wood to all see time immediately.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 118. That Class Was Heavy On ... Receivers. If you’re going to run the offense head coach Todd Dodge wants to run, you need targets. The Mean Green passing game got an influx of receivers with two JUCO transfers for right now in Jamaal Jackson and Mike Outlaw, while freshman Daniel Mayberry might be the most talented of the lot.

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