2008 CFN North Texas Preview
North Texas WR Casey Fitzgerald
North Texas WR Casey Fitzgerald
Posted May 9, 2008

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - North Texas Eagles

North Texas Mean Green

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN North Texas Preview | 2008 North Texas Offense
- 2008 North Texas Defense | 2008 North Texas Depth Chart
2007 CFN North Texas Preview | 2006 CFN North Texas Preview

The team might not have done much of anything in the win column in Todd Dodge's first year, but it sure was fun.

There was an eight touchdown pass game from Giovanni Vizza. There was an 18-catch, 327-yard, two touchdown receiving day from Casey Fitzgerald, who followed it up later in the year with 13 catches for 134 yards and five scores against Navy. Dodge's offense puts up ungodly numbers, but it also gave them up twice as fast.

Head coach: Todd Dodge
2nd year: 2-10
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 19, Def. 20, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 24
Ten Best UNT Players
1. WR Casey Fitzgerald, Sr.
2. QB Riley Dodge, Fr.
3. C Kelvin Drake, Jr.
4. QB Giovanni Vizza, Soph.
5. LB Craig Robertson, Soph.
6. CB Antoine Bush, Jr.
7. RB Micah Mosley, Soph.
8. WR Sam Dibrell, Soph.
9. S Greg Garden, Soph.
10. P Truman Spencer, Sr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 3-9
2007 Record: 0-0

Aug. 30 at Kansas State
Sept. 6 Tulsa
Sept. 13 at LSU
Sept. 20 OPEN DATE
Sept. 27 at Rice
Oct. 4 FIU
Oct. 11 UL Lafayette
Oct. 18 at UL Monroe
Oct. 25 Troy
Nov. 1 at Western Kentucky
Nov. 8 at Florida Atlantic
Nov. 22 at Middle Tennessee
Nov. 29 Arkansas State

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 2-10
2007 Record:

Sept. 1 at Oklahoma L 79-10
Sept. 8 at SMU L 45-31
Sept. 22
Florida Atlantic L 30-20
Sept. 29 at Arkansas L 66-7
Oct. 6 at UL Laf. L 38-29
Oct. 13 UL Monroe W 31-21
Oct. 20 at Troy L 45-7
Oct. 27 Middle Tenn L 48-28
Nov. 10 Navy L 74-62
Nov. 15 at Ark. State L 31-27
Nov. 24
W. Kentucky W 27-26
Dec. 1 at FIU L 38-19

Even with a slew of promising veterans back on defense in 2006, UNT wasn't remotely close to stopping anyone. The Mean Green gave up 45.08 points per game, the worst in America, allowed 486 yards per outing, and got run on for 223 yards per game.

So now the goal is to be more consistent offensively while getting some production, any production from the defense. Both should happen, and it should make for an interesting mix that could quickly bring UNT back to the glory days when it went to four straight New Orleans Bowls.

Eight starters return on offense, but it's a newcomer, freshman Riley Dodge, the coach's son, who could be the one to take the attack to another level. A top quarterback recruit, he has all the makings of the next Chase Daniel with even more quickness and athleticism. With Fitzgerald back, along with several excellent weapons, it'll be showtime in Denton.

The defense is looking towards a slew of transfers like S Greg Garden from Navy and JUCO sensations Justin Edwards and Adryan Adams to help the secondary, while there's movement in the front seven with a few linebackers moving to end and young players ready to shine at linebacker. The goal is to come up with just enough stops to let the offense do its thing, and this year's group should be able to do that.

It's not hard to make a quick move back up the charts in the Sun Belt, and as quickly as North Texas fell into the abyss, that's how quickly it should move into the limelight again. And it the wins aren't there, at least it'll be an exciting ride.

What to watch for on offense … Dodge. The new one. It's not like Vizza can't play. He took his lumps last season, but he had a few phenomenal moments to suggest that he's not just going to hand the offense over. But Riley Dodge is it. He's the one who was literally born into this offense and knows it backwards and forwards. While he might not be that big, he's the ultimate triggerman for his father's attack, and he plans on playing from day one.

What to watch for on defense … the transfers. Garden sat out last year and was listed as a backup at strong safety coming out of spring ball, but he's too talented to sit for long. The corners are a plus, Antoine Bush is a good one, but there will be some serious competition from Adams and Edwards from the JUCO ranks for time. The secondary was going to be the strength of the defense anyway, and now it'll be far better.

The team will be far better if … it stops giving the ball away. There are going to be a ton of interceptions from an offense that throws this much, but the 28 picks last year were the most in the nation. Baylor threw 27, and the new most picks thrown were 23. The defense forced 24 turnovers, but they weren't enough to overcome all the yards and points allowed. UNT has to cut the giveaways down to around the low 20s and has to start being on the plus side overall.

The Schedule: It'll be interesting to see the offense against some big names early facing Kansas State and LSU, but the real fun will the home date against a Tulsa team that led the nation in total offense. The two toughest Sun Belt road games, against Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee, are in November, and they're wrapped around an off-week. On the plus side, the Troy battle is at home and there are very winnable games against FIU, UL Lafayette and Arkansas State to deal with.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Casey Fitzgerald. Not enough was made about the rags-to-riches story of the 2007 season. Fitzgerald was a former walk-on who had done precisely squat over his first few seasons, and then he cranked out five double-digit catch games with 111 grabs on the year for 1,322 yards and 12 touchdowns. There was a 99-yard scoring play against ULM, the five-touchdown day against Navy, and the 18-catch game against SMU. He'll be the main target all year long.

Best Defensive Player: Sophomore LB Craig Robertson. A safety in size, he turned into an instant star for the linebacking corps making 48 tackles with a team-leading five interceptions. He can run, hit, and do be physical for his size. There are several good young players ready to shine at linebacker, and Robertson will be the leader.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore DEs Sam Owusu-Hemeng & Marquis Sykes. With the team's best pass rushing option, Eddrick Taylor, out of the mix with off-the-field issues, the coaching staff needs a pair of linebackers to turn into instant stars on the outside. Others, like Kyle Russo and Ryan Davenport, will be in the rotation, but if Owusu-Hemeng and Sykes struggle, it's going to be a long year.

The season will be a success if ... UNT wins six games. The offense should be able to simply outbomb most teams and come up with some wins on big numbers alone. The consistency won't be there to hope for a shot at the Sun Belt title, and there are still too many defensive questions to demand a winning season, but the team should be far better.

Key game: Sept. 27 at Rice. The first three games, at Kansas State, Tulsa and at LSU are going to be warmups, and nasty ones. After an off-week, the Mean Green gets a game it can win at Rice, and that'll be when the team shows what it can do before kicking off the Sun Belt season against FIU.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Sacks: Opponents 39 for 283 yards – North Texas 14 for 96 yards
- Opponent scoring by quarters: 1st 106, 2nd 180, 3rd 120, 4th 135
- North Texas scoring by quarters: 1st 62, 2nd 119, 3rd 61, 4th 56