2009 CFN North Texas Preview
North Texas RB Cam Montgomery
North Texas RB Cam Montgomery
Posted May 11, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - North Texas Eagles

North Texas Mean Green

Preview 2009

By Pete Fiutak

- 2009 CFN North Texas Preview | 2009 North Texas Offense
- 2009 North Texas Defense | 2009 North Texas Depth Chart
- 2008 UNT Preview |
2007 UNT Preview | 2006 UNT Preview

Interested in blogging about North Texas football?  Let us know

It's one thing to be bad and go down swinging, like North Texas did with its wildly entertaining 2007 offense, but it's a whole other story when the team is bad, and is just plain bad with nothing to show for it.

There weren't any eight touchdown pass games, like there were in 2007. There weren't the wild shootouts against anyone of note. There was one win over Western Kentucky and a whole bunch of bad. This year, the third in the Todd Dodge era, something has to work. Anything.

Head coach: Todd Dodge
3rd year: 3-21
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 17, Def. 29, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best UNT Players
1. LB Tobe Nwigwe, Sr.
2. LB Craig Robertson, Jr.
3. QB Riley Dodge, RFr.
4. LB Kylie Hill, Sr.
5. OG/C Kelvin Drake, Jr.
6. RB Cam Montgomery, Sr.
7. RB Michael Mosley, Jr.
8. DE Eddrick Gilmore, Sr.
9. S Darien Williams, Soph.
10. WR Tyler Stradfrod, RFr

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction
: 3-9
2008 Record: 0-0

9/3 at Ball State
9/12 Ohio
9/19 at Alabama
9/26 Middle Tennessee
10/10 at UL Lafayette
10/17 Florida Atlantic
10/24 at Troy
10/31 Western Kentucky
11/7 UL Monroe
11/14 at FIU
11/21 Army
11/28 at Arkansas State

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 3-9
2008 Record: 1-11

8/30 at Kansas St L 45-6
9/6 Tulsa L 56-26
9/13 at LSU L 41-3
9/27 at Rice L 77-20
10/4 FIU L 42-10
10/11 UL Lafayette L 59-30
10/18 at UL Monroe L 35-23
10/25 Troy L 45-17
11/1 at WKU W 51-40
11/8 at Fla Atlantic L 46-13
11/22 at Mid Tenn L 52-13
11/29 Arkansas St L 33-28

102nd in the nation in scoring. Dead last in total defense. Dead last in scoring defense. 111th in punt returns and 114th in kickoff returns. 116th in turnover margin. And it goes on, and on, and on.

But that was last year, and it could be argued that Dodge was still working with square pegs for the round holes. He hasn't had a ton of time to put the right guys in place to run the offense the way he'd like, and the defense has needed a while, a long while, to mature. With eight returning starters on offense, nine on defense, and depth all across the board, it's time for the program to show a sign of life.

The key will be to find some semblance of consistent production. The defense will never be a brick wall, but it has one of the league's better linebacking corps and a decent-looking secondary with several sophomore prospects who appear to be ready to step up and shine.

And then there's the offense, which was supposed to be Dodge's calling card after his wildly successful run at Southlake Carroll High in Texas. He was responsible for taking the spread attack to another level in the high school circuit, highlighted by Chase Daniel before he took off for Missouri. Now he has to hope his son, Riley, is worth all the prep hype and can carry the program back to the heights it was at back when it was the star of the Sun Belt.

Wins are a must after coming up with just three in the first two years, but there might need to be one more year of patience before everything starts to rock. In the meantime, North Texas football at least has to go back to being fun and it has to show more signs of life. It's the Sun Belt. A big-time attack could make a lot of noise in a real hurry.

What to watch for on offense … The line. This was one of the few areas that wasn't all that bad last season, and it should be a major strength this year with all five starters returning, along with Kelvin Drake, the team's best lineman who missed all of last season with an ankle problem. It was hardly a brick wall of a line, but it's big, experienced, deep, and good enough to not be the problem if the offense struggles again.

What to watch for on defense … the linebackers. More plays need to be made at the point of attack and in the backfield rather than nine yards down the field, but the Mean Green linebackers weren't the problem last year and they could be special. Tobe Nwigwe will be one of the Sun Belt's leading tacklers. The team's leading tackler of last year will be joined by the second-leading tackler, Craig Robertson, the third leading tackler, Kylie Hill, who'll move from safety to linebacker, and the No. 5 tackler, A.J. Penson.

The team will be far better if … it stops giving the ball away... again. There needs to be more of a pass rush, there needs to be more consistent passing, and the special teams have to be better, but the turnover margin has to be more in the Mean Green's favor. Two years ago UNT threw 28 picks, and last year there were 17 to go along with 16 fumbles. However, The defense only came up with 16 takeaways. UNT isn't good enough to not get several big breaks.

The Schedule: It's not awful with dates against Ball State and Ohio from the MAC, along with Army, as the key to the non-conference schedule which has to yield at least two wins. Forget about the trip to Alabama, but at least there will be two games of tune up time beforehand. The Sun Belt slate isn't awful with Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic, two of the better teams, coming to Denton, but the games against Troy, Arkansas State, and UL Lafayette are on the road. There aren't two road games in a row and there's a nice late-season stretch of three home games in four weeks.

Best Offensive Player: Redshirt freshman QB Riley Dodge ... eventually. RB Cam Montgomery and center/guard Kelvin Drake are the best players going into the season, and Oklahoma transfer Tyler Stradford is a good-looking receiver prospect, but Dodge is the star of the show. At least he needs to be. He was a top recruit who came to North Texas to play for his dad, and now he has to be far sharper and far more productive than he has been in practices over the last two years. Knowing the offense isn't a problem, but he has to produce.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Tobe Nwigwe. He had a slew of issues before last year, but he turned into a model player and a leader both on and off the field with a team-leading 111 tackles to go along with three interceptions and three tackles for loss. At 6-1 and 251 pounds, he's a big body in the middle with nice range. Now he has to do more to get into the backfield.

Key player to a successful season: Dodge. It's not a stretch to say the future of the program, at least of his father, is in his hands. Riley Dodge was shaky at times throughout spring ball and hasn't done anything to suggest that he's about to be special, but he's only a redshirt freshman. With time, he should be a fantastic passer who could make the offense explode, but he needs to lead the way to wins or he might be playing for another coach next season.

The season will be a success if ... UNT wins four games. Even with all the returning experience and all the promise with depth, emerging talent, and improvement in places like the receiving corps and the O line, getting four wins would be a major step forward. The Mean Green has won eight games in the last four years and hasn't won more than three games since 2004, so while a winning season would be nice, just coming up with a more competitive team and four wins would be enough for now.

Key game: Sept. 26 vs. Middle Tennessee. It's going to take a few games for Dodge to get his feet wet as the starting quarterback, especially with three new receivers who need to figure out what they're doing. With Ball State, Ohio, and Alabama before the Sun Belt opener, the team will have just enough time and just enough work to be ready. With a week off to follow, UNT could show that things have changed if it can beat a strong Blue Raider team that's coming into the year thinking Sun Belt title.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Third quarter scoring: Opponents 210 - North Texas 59
- Sacks: Opponents 25 for 172 yards - North Texas 12 for 75
- Rushing touchdowns: Opponents 37 - North Texas 14