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2007 North Texas Preview - Defense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 6, 2007


Preview 2007 North Texas Mean Green Defense

North Texas Mean Green

Preview 2007 - Defense

- 2007 North Texas Preview | 2007 UNT Offense Preview
-
2007 UNT Depth Chart | 2006 CFN North Texas Preview 

What you need to know:
The defense improved dramatically after making a drastic move to the 3-4. Now it'll go back to a traditional 4-3 and hope the overall experience and depth will pay off with more big plays after forcing just 14 turnovers. The linebackers will be solid with the return of Maurice Holman, Brandon Monroe and Derek Mendoza, while Aaron Weathers anchors a secondary that should be better in time. Generating a pass rush from the front four is a must, but Jeremiah Chapman will be a good end to work around.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Aaron Weathers, 78
Sacks: Jeremiah Chapman, 4.5
Interceptions: Several at 1

Star of the defense: Senior DE Jeremiah Chapman
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior DE Blake Burress
Unsung star on the rise: Junior DT Isaac Thomas
Best pro prospect: Chapman
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Chapman, 2) FS Aaron Weathers, 3) LB Maurice Holman
Strength of the defense: Experience, safety
Weakness of the defense:
Run defense, pass rush, interceptions

Defensive Line

Projected Starters: In the switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3, the Mean Green might go with three tackle rotation of Montey Stevenson, Isaac Thomas, and Joseph Miller. All three could start if the 6-2, 290-pound Stevenson plays end after making 33 tackles and six tackles for loss. The senior is extremely quick for his size and could be too much for most guards to deal with.  The 5-11, 289-pound Thomas is a bowling ball who made 11 tackles as a reserve, but now the junior has shown he needs more playing time. Miller, a junior, is a true tackle who'll play on the nose after making 30 tackles as a backup.

If the three tackles take turns starting, the ends will be 6-4, 243-pound senior Jeremiah Chapman and 6-7, 263-pound senior Blake Burress. Champman is one of the team's best defenders earning second-team All-Sun Belt honors after making 53 tackles and a team-leading 4.5 sacks and ten tackles for loss. He can do it all. Burress hasn't quite played up to his intriguing size making just eight tackles and two tackles for loss despite starting nine games. He's tough to throw over and is a dangerous kick blocker.

Projected Top Reserves: Part end and part tackle, the 6-2, 266-pound sophomore, Jonathan Stewart, will see time all over the place. He's a bit undersized for the interior, but he's quick.

 6-3, 257-pound junior Tye Rexrode returned from an injury to make eight tackles as a backup and special teamer. An extremely interesting prospect, he was a high school quarterback and track star.

6-5, 260-pound sophomore Eddrick Gilmore hasn't seen any time yet after redshirting with academic issues. He's a physical player who came to the program as a top tight end recruit and could quickly make a name for himself as a run stopper on the end behind Burress.

Watch Out For ... more plays made in the backfield. There are too many decent athletes to be as awful as last year's line was at getting to the quarterback.
Strength: Tackles. The Mean Green have three good ones with more overall size than most Sun Belt lines. Having Chapman on the end will certainly help.
Weakness
:
A proven second pass rusher besides Chapman, and even he isn't a killer when it comes to generating pressure. The team combined for just 16 sacks last season, and more has to come from all four spots. Expect it to happen.
Outlook: It won't be the Mean Green line of old, but it'll be far better than it's been the last few years. The move to the 4-3 should help immensely adding more beef for the run defense while giving the coaching staff more options and combinations. Chapman is an All-Sun Belt playmaker the rest of the line has to work around, while Stevenson has the potential to be a star on the inside.
Rating: 5

Linebackers

Projected Starters: The best of a loaded linebacking corps is 224-pound senior Maurice Holman, who was second on the team with 74 tackles along with two sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. With excellent speed and great tackling ability, he can play any of the three positions and will shine again on the outside. Now he has to do more against the pass.

242-pound senior Derek Mendoza is a pure inside linebacker who'll starting the middle. As one of the team's most experienced defenders who should shine now that he has a starting job all to himself. He's a big hitter who made 41 tackles last season.

On the strongside will likely be 6-2, 234-pound senior Brandon Monroe, who got a few starts, but mostly spent the year as a reserve making 38 tackles. He's a good enough hitter to play inside if needed.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Germaine Dawson started almost every game in the 3-4 and now will be a top backup if he doesn't win a starting spot. He finished third on the team with 54 tackles and was a star on special teams with good speed and a big pop. Only 6-1 and 207 pounds, he needs to use his athleticism more as a pass rusher.

6-0, 210-pound redshirt freshman Craig Robertson might be new to the mix, but that will change in a hurry. One of the best athletes in the linebacking corps, he'll play a big role behind Holman.

237-pound sophomore Tobe Nwigwe has good size on the inside and is coming off a nice first season making 35 tackles, 2.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss. With his combination of size and speed, he'll be hard to get off the field.

Watch Out For ... the linebackers to be a major strength. Holman is almost certain to earn All-Sun Belt honors, while Mendoza and Monroe aren't far behind. Nwigwe and Dawson are nice reserves to rely on.
Strength: Experience. Seven different players got a start last year in the old 3-4, and now there are more than enough options ready to rotate in.
Weakness
:
Plays in the backfield. If the linebackers couldn't come up with tackles for loss last year in a 3-4, it might not be all that great at being disruptive in the 4-3.
Outlook: It might not be the best linebacking corps in the Sun Belt, but it'll certainly hold its own. The key will be finding the right rotation to keep everyone fresh without disrupting a rhythm. The only big concern could be breaking up a good thing just to get everyone some playing time. That's not a bad problem to have for a group that'll come up with a ton of tackles.
Rating: 5

Defensive Backs

Projected Starters: In a league loaded with good safeties, UNT's will stand out with the terrific combination of seniors Aaron Weathers and Ray Loren returning. Weathers has led the team in tackles over the last two seasons making 191 stops, but he did next to nothing against the pass last year with just one interception and one broken up pass. The former JUCO transfer is a great leader and the tone-setter for the back seven, and now he has to use his mobility and experience to be even more of a disruptive force. The 6-2, 205-pound Loren made 33 tackles despite missing part of the year with a broken hand. The free safety has excellent size and good range.

The corners should be more productive starting with junior Latif Nurudeen stepping in and being ready to shine after transferring from Baylor. He's 6-1 and 200 pounds and has the potential to be the shut-down corner the team has lacked over the last few years.

On the other side will be sophomore Antoine Bush, who was one of the team's best defenders last year making 42 tackles and an interception. With 4.6 speed, he's one of the team's faster defenders and now needs to use his wheels to break up more passes.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Dominique Green isn't all that big, but he's a physical tackling corner making 33 tackles. He's a great athlete who'll see plenty of time behind Nurudeen. Playing behind Bush will be senior Gary Oubre, a JUCO transfer who's only 5-9 and 150 pounds and can move. 215-pound junior Steve Warren can play either safety position and will start out behind Loren at strong safety. He got a little bit of starting time making 14 tackles after making 46 the year before. With tremendous speed and decent size, he should be a good playmaker in the rotation.

Sophomore Kartey Agbottah is a 6-2, 190-pound hitter who made four stops, mostly on special teams. He'll play behind Weathers at free safety adding a little more size.

Watch Out For ... the corners to be more productive. They were just trying to find their way last season, and now they're more experienced and more talented with the addition of Nurudeen.
Strength: Tackling. This is a tough group that's not bad at coming up with plays against the run, especially at safety. That'll be big in the 4-3 since Weathers and Loren will have to make even more plays.
Weakness
:
Interceptions. Six. The Mean Green only came up with six picks last season, and only four came from the defensive backs. While no one in the Sun Belt throws enough to have many opportunities to make picks, the secondary has to do more.
Outlook: The secondary didn't give up many yards, but it got picked apart by anyone who wanted to throw. That should change this season with good experience and enough talent to be among the better Sun Belt secondaries. Even so, there's not enough overall speed to handle anyone with a good passing attack.
Rating: 4.5

Special Teams

Projected Starters: Junior Truman Spencer came up with a great season averaging 40.8 yards per kick and put 15 kicks inside the 20. Despite being 6-3 and 206 pounds, he doesn't have a huge leg and isn't going to air it out, but he's consistent enough to be an All-Sun Belt candidate. It'll be up to redshirt freshman Steven Woodward to take over for Denis Hopovac, who hit a solid 15 of 21 field goal attempts. He doesn't have much in the way of range, but he'll be fine from 40 yards and in.

Watch Out For ... Woodward to be fine. Hopoviac, as decent as he was, still missed three kicks inside 30 yards.
Strength: Blocking kicks. The Mean Green came up with five last year. There are plenty of tall players who can adjust kicks.
Weakness
:
Returns. The Mean Green did nothing in the return game last season averaging just 18.1 yards per kickoff return and 7.4 yards per punt return. Now the team needs to find new returners with Johnny Quinn gone.
Outlook: Spencer should make the punting game shine again, but until the return game is better, the special teams won't be a strength.
Rating: 6

 

Related Stories
2007 North Texas Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 6, 2007
2007 North Texas Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 6, 2007
2007 North Texas Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 6, 2007








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