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2009 North Texas Preview - Offense
North Texas RB Micah Mosley
CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - North Texas Eagle Offense
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What you need to know: After two years and with moderate
success, the offense finally has the pieces (for the most part)
brought in by head coach Todd Dodge to run the offense the way
he wants to. The line gets back all five starters along with G/C
Kelvin Drake, the team's best lineman who missed all of last
year hurt, while the backfield has three good runners in Cam
Montgomery, Lance Dunbar, and Micah Mosley. But the offense is
supposed to revolve around the passing game, and while it has
had its moments over the last two years, it's been wildly
inconsistent and inefficient. Riley Dodge, the coach's son and
one-time superstar recruit, has to live up to the promise at
quarterback, and the three newcomers at receiver, Oklahoma
transfer Tyler Stradford and JUCO transfers Jamaal Jackson and
Michael Outlaw, have to be fantastic right away. There will be
bumps in the road and there will be problems early on, but
eventually the light will go on and the offense should explode.
Patience, even after two years under Dodge, will remain a key
Passing: Nathan Tune
6-13, 55 yds
Rushing: Cam Montgomery
170 carries, 928 yds, 9 TD
Receiving: Alex Lott
26 catches, 201 yds, 2 TD
Star of the offense:
Redshirt freshman QB Riley Dodge
Player who has to step up and become a star: Dodge
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore G Coleman Feeley
Best pro prospect: Junior C Kelvin Drake
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Dodge, 2) RB Cam
Strength of the offense: Line experience, running back
Weakness of the offense:
Passing game production,
Alright hot shot, let's see what you can do. Riley Dodge
was one of the biggest recruits to ever sign with North Texas
after throwing for 3,445 yards and 39 touchdowns in his senior
year at Southlake High in Texas (the same school as former
Missouri star Chase Daniel). He also ran for 772 yards and 13
scores on his way to Gatorade Player of the Year honors in 2007,
after winning the award in 2006. It helped that his dad is
the UNT head man, Todd Dodge, considering that Riley could've
gone just about anywhere. He spent last year getting a little
time at receiver, catching nine passes for 59 yards, and going
0-for-2 under center with an interception, before getting
knocked out for the year. On the plus side, he took a medical
redshirt and will likely be the starter for the next four years.
The bad news is that he was average this spring and wasn't
consistent. At 6-0 and 182 pounds he's not all that big, but he
has a good enough arm and he can move.
Projected Top Reserves: Junior Nathan Tune
has been a part of the program long enough to know what
he's doing. The 6-4, 203-pound junior saw time in six games
completing 6-of-13 passes for 55 yards while running for 25
more. He's a big passer with enough mobility to take off and run
at any time. He knows the offense.
5-11, 202-pound redshirt freshman Chase Blaine
is the third man in the mix but won't be getting a shot for the
starting job. he's the emergency option, and while he's not all
that big, he has a live arm and can move as well as Dodge or
Watch Out For ... Tune to
see action. It's Dodge's job and he's not going to lose it after
a bad outing or two, but he hasn't been good enough to be simply
handed the full-time job for the entire season based on family
ties. Todd Dodge needs to win to keep his job, which means Tune,
who might be a bit more polished, could see action in a pinch.
Strength: Mobility. The idea of the offense is to
get the passing game moving, but the quarterbacks play a big
part in the running game, too. All three options can run well.
Production. Can Riley Dodge actually play? He has all the
basics, but he's still just a redshirt freshman who'll need lots
of time to figure out what he's doing. He wasn't all that great
in practices against the mediocre Mean Green defense; what's he
going to do once the bullets start flying?
Outlook: Giovanni Vizza was a two-year starter who
wasn't all that bad and didn't get a whole bunch of help behind
a porous offensive line. He could handle that fine, but the
writing was on the wall: Riley Dodge was going to be the
starting quarterback as long as his dad was the head coach.
Vizza transferred to Texas A&M, and now it's sink-or-swim time
for both Dodges. The passing game will put up numbers because
the team will be in comeback mode, but it needs to be more
efficient. It probably won't be early on.
Senior Cam Montgomery
stepped in from the JUCO ranks two years ago and struggled to
stay healthy, and then he came up with a breakthrough season
carrying the offense with a steady 928 yards and nine touchdowns
highlighted by a 121-yard, two touchdown day against Arkansas
State to close things out. A good enough recruit to be courted
by Illinois and Boise State, he has a nice blend of 6-1,
210-pound size and excellent speed. Now he has to prove he can
stay healthy again after taking a medical redshirt two years ago
with a hamstring problem.
Projected Top Reserves: Junior Micah
Mosley was supposed to be the main man last year but
was knocked out early on with a shoulder injury after running
for just 102 yards and a score in his limited role five games
into the season. He's a 6-0, 210-pound veteran with good
quickness and the vision to hit the hole in a hurry and average
close to five yards per game.
The No. 2 back until Mosley is healthy is Lance Dunbar,
a speedy 5-9, 189-pound sophomore who finished second on the
team with 928 yards with a score in five games before suffering
a season-ending injury. He's back and ready to roll, and now he
could fill more of a receiving role after catching 12 passes for
51 yards and a score.
Watch Out For ... more from the running game. There's
talk of this being the most talented backfield UNT has ever had,
and that includes the big-production days of Patrick Cobbs and
Jamario Thomas. While this group isn't quite that good, it's
talented enough to be used more and more.
Strength: Combinations of speed and size. Mosley
and Montgomery aren't the typical small, quick backs offenses
like UNT's likes to use. These two can run inside and out, while
Dunbar is a speedster who can crank out big runs with a little
space to move.
Weakness: Health. Mosley is coming off a shoulder problem,
Dunbar is coming off an injury, and Montgomery is hardly a
sure-thing after missing 2007 with a hamstring problem.
Outlook: There's a nice mix of talents with the
return of Micah Mosley to go along with the near-1,000-yard
rushing of Cam Montgomery. With the passing game so inefficient
and such a concern, more will come from the running game with
the three options all to get plenty of work.
With all the turnover in the receiving
corps and with all the new faces needing to learn the system,
it'll be up to sophomore Sam Roberson to be a
steadying force. The 6-4, 217-pounder played last year on the
outside, making 12 catches for 76 yards, to the inside. The star
high school defensive back is big and physical, but he was more
of a possession target in his first season.
JUCO transfer Jamaal Jackson is a 6-1,
172-pound inside target with tremendous quickness and speed. The
junior caught 41 passes for 418 yards with a touchdown for
Southwest Mississippi CC, but he has the 4.4 speed to do far
more with an expanded role in a passing attack.
5-11, 190-pound junior Michael Outlaw, like
Jackson, stepped in from the JUCO ranks to a starting spot after
catching 46 passes for 624 yards for East Mississippi CC. While
he's not fast, he's a good football player who fights for the
ball and can make deep plays on the outside.
6-2, 175-pound redshirt freshman Tyler Stradford
started out his career at Oklahoma before transferring
to UNT. A tremendous athlete with great leaping ability and as
much talent as any receiver the Mean Green has had in years, he
should be a major playmaker on the outside.
Projected Top Reserves: When the offense uses a
tight end, and it's not going to be often, it'll be up to senior
Bryant Seidle to take over. He didn't catch a
pass last season, spending last year on special teams and as a
backup linebacker making four tackles. The 6-2, 221-pounder will
be used as a blocker.
Fighting for playing time will be
Alex Lott, a 5-9, 165-pound junior who started in four
games and will see time on the inside. He was third on the team
with 26 catches for 201 yards and two scores, and while he's
extremely quick, he didn't do much with the ball in his hands.
Trying to fight his way though the logjam of targets is
Kevin Dickerson, a 5-10, 190-pound senior who made 21
catches for 180 yards with an 18-yard touchdown catch against
Western Kentucky. He'll have to battle for playing time on the
inside, but with his experience he'll see action in four wide
With tremendous speed, sophomore B.J. Lewis
will see time on the outside after missing most of last year
hurt. He saw a little time in three games and didn't catch a
pass, but with 6-1, 195-pound size and excellent deep speed,
he'll be used on the outside in a rotation with Tyler Stradford.
Watch Out For ... all the new guys. The coaching
staff wanted new blood and new starters to make the passing game
shine, and Outlaw, Jackson, and especially Stradford will be the
new stars of the attack. At least that's the hope.
Strength: The system. There will be plenty of
passes flying around and plenty of chances for all the targets
to see work their way. The offense spreads the ball around, so
if you're a receiver and you can find the seams and if you can
handle single coverage, you'll produce.
Casey Fitzgerald. All he did was catch 113 passes for 1,119
yards and six scores last year and 225 passes over the last two
seasons. There's no real experience in this year's corps, and
there's no clear-cut No. 1 guy to take Fitzgerald's place.
Outlook: Casey Fitzgerald might be gone, but the
receiving corps is better with an upgrade over the last six
months. Todd Dodge and the coaching staff went out and got guys
to fit the high-octane attack with Oklahoma transfer Tyler
Stradford a potential star on the outside and JUCO transfers
Michael Outlaw and Jamaal Jackson brought in to produce
immediately. It might take a little while for everyone to get on
the same page, but the corps should turn out to be better.
While not listed as a starter, there will be a spot
either at center or guard for Kelvin Drake, a 6-2, 302-pound
junior who missed last year with an ankle problem but was a second-team
All-Sun Belt performer in 2007. He's a good run blocker and can do a
little of everything well on the inside including making the snap in the
shotgun formation. His versatility will be a key to the line.
With Drake out, J.J. Johnson was decent at center
starting in every game and looking like a possible starter for another
three years. Not all that big at 6-2 and 280 pounds, the sophomore is
good on the move and blocks bigger than his size.
A fixture at
tackle for the last few years has been Esteban Santiago,
a starter in every game at left tackle last season and a likely right
tackle to start out this year. One of the team's best pass blockers, the
6-3, 285-pound junior is a former defensive lineman who has the
toughness to play guard if needed but has been solid on the outside.
Working on the left side will be Victor Gill, a
6-4, 250-pound junior who moved over from tight end to tackle and bulked
up to be able to handle the job for an entire season. He can play either
side, starting every game at right tackle last season, and doing a
decent job against speed rushers.
6-4, 318-pound sophomore
Coleman Feeley stepped in and started the final seven
games at right guard and should be a fixture for the next three years.
He's a pounding run blocker and a decent athlete for his size, and with
a little more consistency, he should be a key anchor.
Projected Top Reserves: Senior Gabe
Hollivay went from JUCO transfer to starter at left guard after
the dominoes fell from the Kelvin Drake injury. the 6-3, 360-pounder is
too big, but he's good. One of the highest ranked recruits the team has
brought in over the last several years, he can play either guard spot
and could end up starting if Drake takes over the starting center job.
Former JUCO transfer Nate
Jenkins was supposed to play a key role last year after serving as
the anchor of the 2007 national champion, Pearl River CC, but he
spent the year learning on the fly. Unfortunately, he got
bigger. A LOT bigger, and now he's 6-3 and 378 pounds making him
a guard instead of a tackle, which he was originally projected
6-3, 305-pound senior Matt Menard started 11
games at tackle two years ago and spent last season as a key
backup. Now he'll work behind Victor Gill at left tackle
bringing more size at 6-3 and 305 pounds. The former defensive
lineman is a good run blocker, but he's suspect in pass
Watch Out For ... Drake.
It'll be hard to crack the line that was becoming cohesive as
last year went on, but now that he's healthy, Drake could be the
best player for the front five.
Strength: Experience. The Mean Green not only have
four returning starters play every game, but had a fifth, Feeley,
who started the final six games. Add Drake to the equation and
the line is as good as it's been in years.
Weakness: Doing any one thing consistently well. The pass
protection was decent, considering there were 514 pass attempts,
but it wasn't as good as it needed to be. This wasn't a dominant
run blocking line, either.
Outlook: After a disastrous 2007, the line turned
out to be fine with the addition of some key JUCO transfers and
the emergence of a few good young players. Now with Kelvin Drake
back at either center or guard, the line is loaded with
experience and should be a strength with a little more time.