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2010 North Texas Preview – Offense
North Texas RB Lance Dunbar
North Texas RB Lance Dunbar
Posted Jun 20, 2010 2010 Preview - North Texas Eagle Offense

North Texas Mean Green

Preview 2010 - Offense

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What You Need To Know: The offense had been building toward big things last year, and even though the team went 2-10, the attack finished 36th in the nation in yards. The passing game wasn’t efficient, but the ground attack, led by breakout Sun Belt superstar Lance Dunbar, was terrific. Expect more of the same with, arguably, the league’s best line to pave the way with four returning starters and a few all-star candidates. One-time superstar QB recruit, Riley Dodge, will move to receiver, but the passing game should be better with a loaded receiving corps and two good bombing options in Nathan Tune and Derek Thompson. Basically, if the Todd Dodge offense (now run by new offensive coordinator, Mike Canales) doesn’t work in Denton, it never will.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Riley Dodge (now a WR)
205-303, 1,975 yds, 9 TD, 15 INT
Rushing: Lance Dunbar
200 carries, 1,378 yds, 17 TD
Receiving: Jamaal Jackson
71 catches, 701 yds, 6 TD

Star of the offense: Junior RB Lance Dunbar
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior QB Nathan Tune
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Tyler Stradford
Best pro prospect: Dunbar
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Dunbar, 2) OT Esteban Santiago, 3) OG Kelvin Drake
Strength of the offense: Offensive Line, Dunbar, Receivers
Weakness of the offense: Experienced Quarterback, Consistency


Projected Starter: With Riley Dodge moving over to receiver, senior Nathan Tune will take over the starting job full time. He got a little bit of work in last year when Dodge got hurt and completed 65% of his throws for 646 yards and five scores with two interceptions highlighted by a 267-yard, two score day in the loss to Troy. A decent runner, but not a regular one, he’ll gain positive yards here and there, but his strength is his experience and his accurate arm. The 6-4, 208-pounder doesn’t have a sure-thing lock on the job, but he’s a big passer who knows the offense.

Projected Top Reserves: For some reason, the coaching staff decided to burn a redshirt season for true sophomore Derek Thompson , getting him in a tight but meaningless season finale against Arkansas State. He completed all three of his passes for 60 yards and a score, but he should be a redshirt freshman. A great talent, the 6-4, 223-pounder was excellent at times this offseason. A great athlete who can take off and come up with yards in chunks, he has the upside and the potential to be the face of the program sooner than later.

Adding more of a running element to the equation is true freshman Derrick Teegarden , a 6-0, 170-pound athlete who tore off close to 1,600 yards on the ground over his final two years in high school. While he has a nice, accurate arm, it’s not a big one. If he’s playing, though, there are big problems; he’s next year’s main backup.

Watch Out For … Thompson. He’s big, he’s athletic, and he has far greater upside than Tune. He was just good enough this offseason to make it a battle for the starting job going into the fall.
Strength: Big passers. Tune and Thompson are each 6-4 and over 200 pounds, and each can put the ball all over the field. While neither is as talented as Dodge was as a pure prospect, the passing game should be fine with either one at the helm.
Weakness: Efficiency. The yards will be there and there will be a game or three when the passing game blows up, but this has been a dink and dunk attack that doesn’t generate nearly enough downfield big plays. To average just 9.7 yards per completion is a problem.
Outlook: Dodge was supposed to be the face of the program but never stayed healthy. What no one wants to acknowledge is that Tune and Thompson might be better options. The quarterback situation is solid with either one able to move the offense. As long as there are more downfield plays, and if the interceptions are kept to a minimum, the quarterbacks could be a strength with a little bit of time.
Unit Rating: 5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Even though he ran for 178 yards as a freshman, junior Lance Dunbar turned into one of the biggest surprises of the Sun Belt season earning first-team all-star honors after running for 1,378 yards and 17 scores. The 5-9, 202-pound speedster cranked out eight 100-yard games in the final nine including a 238-yard, three touchdown day against Florida Atlantic and 187 yards and four touchdowns against Louisiana-Lafayette. He’s compact, extremely quick, and phenomenal when he can stay healthy; he was hurt halfway through the 2008 season and missed the second half of the year. A good receiver as well as a runner, he finished fourth on the team with 28 catches for 300 yards and two scores.

Projected Top Reserves: At 5-8 and 178 pounds, junior James Hamilton is a speedy option who’ll get a far bigger role as the No. 2 back. While he’ll never pound it over anyone, he’s fast through the hole and can be used as a receiver in the open field. Now he needs the ball after rushing for just 47 yards and a score and catching two passes for 12 yards. The former defensive back now knows what he’s doing.

True freshman Brandin Byrd could turn into an option right away. The 5-11, 185-pounder averaged 7.84 yards per carry as a high school all-star and has the wheels and talent to become a dangerous playmaker as a relief runner and as a receiver. He’s expected to be used out of the box.

Watch Out For … Dunbar to be used as a workhorse once again. The coaching staff would love to butter the bread by throwing it all over the field, but Dunbar is too good and the offensive line too experienced not to feed him the ball 20+ times a game.
Strength: Quickness. As always, the Mean Green is loaded with tremendously fast little runners who can fly through the hole. Able to be used as receivers, the backs are versatile and dangerous.
Weakness: A proven No. 2 back. Hamilton is promising and Byrd has the potential to shine once he gets a little bit of time, but when the top backup ran for 47 yards last year, there’s a little bit of a concern considering Dunbar isn’t all that big and can’t take that much of a pounding.
Outlook: Dunbar, Dunbar, Dunbar. He’s the team’s featured star and could be used until he drops. A talented playmaker who’s a threat for well over 1,500 yards if he can stay healthy, he has Sun Belt Player of the Year potential if he can stay healthy. Hamilton and Byrd need action early on to keep the tread on Dunbar’s tires.
Unit Rating: 6.5


Projected Starters: Coming in from the JUCO ranks, senior Jamaal Jackson turned into the team’s top receiver right away making 71 catches for 701 yards and six touchdowns. While he came up with a few big plays, he only averaged 9.9 yards per grab and he needs to use his 4.4 wheels to do more. While he’s not big at 5-10 and 163 pounds, he can fly and he can get hot. 21 of his catches came in a two-game stretch and closed well with 21 grabs in his final three games. He’ll once again be the go-to guy.

Junior B.J. Lewis worked as a spot starter making 21 catches for 265 yards making most of his noise over the second half of the season. At 6-1 and 198 pounds, he’s one of the team’s biggest receivers and he led the team (among those with more than three catches) with a 12.6-yard average. The field-stretching speed is there and he has the potential to hit the home run from anywhere on the field, but staying healthy has been a problem and he has to be more consistent.

5-10, 188-pound sophomore Darius Carey finished second on the team with 57 catches for 509 yards and four scores as a true freshman. The former high school quarterback took to the receiver job right away and did a good job of using his 4.5 speed to get open on a regular basis. He caught two touchdown passes against Western Kentucky and was used here and there as a returner.

JUCO transfer Tyler Stradford could be a dangerous option who blows up right away. The 6-2, 190-pounder isn’t as fast as several of the other targets, but he’s a great talent who could become the team’s best receiver. The former Oklahoma Sooner has the size, the body control, and the physical ability to be dangerous in single coverage.

Projected Top Reserves: With everything from a shoulder separation to a major concussion to a broken ankle, one-time superstar quarterback recruit Riley Dodge hasn’t exactly had a fun career. Considered good enough to have gone just about anywhere, including Texas, he chose to play for his dad and was supposed to make Mean Green football special. However, while he showed off a few good skills, the 6-0, 193-pound sophomore couldn’t stay in one piece. He also couldn’t stop throwing the ball to the other team giving away 15 picks, but he completed 68% of his throws for 1,975 yards and nine touchdowns, and he finished the year second on the team with 463 yards and five scores. After all the injuries, though, his arm was banged up and he switched to receiver. Now he’ll be a permanent receiver working behind Darius Carey, and while he’s not a natural, he’s athletic and knows what he’s supposed to do.

Senior Draylen Ross was a defensive lineman last year making 18 tackles as a key part of the rotation, and now he’ll be a massive tight end. While he has just enough athleticism to catch a few passes, he made a grab as a freshman, at 6-4, 292 pounds he’s a blocker who should be devastating for the ground game.

Extremely quick senior Alex Lott got a start against Ohio last season but he has mostly been a key reserve. After making 26 catches in 2008, he finished fifth on the team last year with 22 grabs for 163 yards and a score. He didn’t break off any big plays, he hasn’t over the last few years, but he’s a reliable veteran who can step in and produce at any of the receiver spots.

Watch Out For … Stradford. There are just enough veterans and just enough speedsters to draw attention away from Stradford, a good talent who has the potential to finally be the guy who can come up with deep plays and can stretch the field.
Strength: Veterans. There are more than enough weapons to make the passing game shine. Jackson and Carey know what they’re doing, and there are strong reserves like Lott, and now, Dodge. This has the potential to be the most complete receiving corps in UNT history.
Weakness: Yards after the catch. The offense is about completing the short to midrange pass to get the receivers in space to do something with the ball. There are way too many plays that don’t do too much averaging just 9.7 yards per catch. Someone needs to come up with more deep plays.
Outlook: The receiving corps should be terrific with enough experience and enough speed to finally make the passing game sing on a consistent basis like it’s supposed to under Todd Dodge. There are plenty of players who can take over the No. 1 role depending on the week, and they should make the new starting quarterback look great.
Unit Rating: 6

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: Back for yet another year as the starting right tackle is Esteban Santiago , a second-team All-Sun Belt performer who has grown into a strong all around blocker. At 6-3 and 296 pounds he’s not huge, but he’s great in pass protection and he’s extremely tough for the ground game. The former defensive lineman works well and is great at erasing speed rushers.

Veteran left guard Kelvin Drake missed 2008 with an ankle problem after earning second-team All-Sun Belt honors in 2007. At 6-2 and 280 pounds, he’s a short, squatty blocker who gets great leverage and has the versatility to work at center or either guard spot. Great for the ground game, he’s a terrific all-around leader who should be in the mix for all-star honors once again.

Senior Victor Gill took over on the left side and was in and out of the starting lineup as he fought through a bunch of bumps and bruises. An excellent pass blocker, the 6-4, 261-pound veteran moved over from tight end and bulked up to handle the workload. Able to see time at either tackle slot, he’s versatile and productive whenever he can stay on the field.

6-6, 283-pound junior J.J. Johnson started every game last year at center for the second year in a row. While he doesn’t get a lot of credit and he doesn’t get a ton of attention, he’s great on the move and he has grown into a nice quarterback for the front five. Steady, he’ll start to get more recognition as one of the leaders of a veteran, strong line.

As the only new starter up front, sophomore Coleman Feeley has to take over for Tyler Bailey, who started every game at right guard. The 6-4, 305-pound Feeley turned into a strong starter two years ago becoming a pounding run blocker with decent athleticism. However, he only saw a wee bit of time last year and he ended up redshirting. Now he’s healthy and ready to step in and shine again.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Matt Tomlinson saw time in almost every game last year as a reserve while getting the start at left tackle against both Alabama and Middle Tennessee early and at right tackle against FIU. Hurt for most of 2008, he showed he could be a steady blocker last year when healthy, and now he’ll be a key reserve on the outside.

Sophomore Aaron Fortenberry turned into a decent reserve last year and now will be among the team’s most versatile blockers. At 6-4 and 288 pounds, he has tackle size, and he’s strong enough to work at guard working behind Coleman Feeley. He’ll also be a key reserve at center working as the understudy behind J.J. Johnson.

Watch Out For … Feeley. He’s the only new starter from last year, but he’ll be more than fine working next to a good group of veterans and he’ll be one of the team’s best run blockers as the year goes on.
Strength: Veterans. The line that allowed a mere 13 sacks and paved the way for the Sun Belt’s second best running game comes back virtually intact. Santiago, Drake, and Johnson are mortal locks for all-star honors if they can stay healthy.
Weakness: Sure-thing veterans. It’ll be important to get a few players time at tackle to be ready to hit the ground running next year, and there could be problems if injuries strike. The line was able to survive last year with a different lineup every other week, but there might not be the same luck this year.
Outlook: After building over the last few years, the line could turn out to be the strength of the team and it could be among the best in the Sun Belt if everyone stays healthy. With a great mix of experience and athleticism, this should once again be among the league’s top pass blocking units and it should be great at paving the way for Lance Dunbar and the ground game.
Unit Rating: 6

- 2010 North Texas Preview | 2010 North Texas Offense
- 2010 North Texas Defense | 2010 North Texas Depth Chart
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