The wait for college football is almost over. The dormant season for Mean Green Nation has ended. Let’s get this party started. Here are my 5 steps that will get North Texas back to a bowl game.
Step 1 Find a QB
It’s no secret how bad NT was at QB last year. It’s also well known that NT did little to bolster the position in the offseason. The young mid-season hero Dajon Williams had a pretty good spring, but has since departed the team. It always seemed that Williams’s style clashed with McCarney and Canales. Connor Means hasn’t taken the second year step that many were hoping. Josh Greer is still struggling with pocket awareness. This leaves NT with a two man battle going into the fall, Andrew McNulty vs DaMarcus Smith. Smith was hoping to come in and battle for the job throughout the spring. However, he wasn’t able to get eligible in time. McNulty took advantage of his absence and grabbed a strong lead in the position battle. In the coaches eyes this battle is McNulty’s too lose. In the fans eye its Smiths to win. Smith has the clear advantage in talent, but can he learn the play book and gel with the WR’s in time for the opening game against SMU? One thing that is working in his favor is the extra week. In my eyes I would love to see the starter be named at least 3 weeks before the opening game. No need to keep it a secret. Let’s the team get used to one guy and go from there. I think last year’s NT team suffered from the QB battle last long into fall camp. If either McNulty or Smith is able to raise the level of QB play significantly from last then NT has a shot to get back to 6 wins and bowl eligibility.
Step 2 Balance the Offense
58% of the time last year UNT ran the ball. On first down NT ran 65% of the time. The basis of the NT offense ever since McCarney has been here has been all about a power running attack. In 2013 the rushing attack was nicely balanced with the abilities of the WR’s on the outside who defenses had to respect. In 2014 there was Carlos Harris and no one else. Add that onto the issue at QB and you can start to see why teams were able to gang up and stop the run. This year there looks to be more potential weapons for the offense to be balanced. Getting that balance on offense will help get first downs and add explosiveness. Not to mention it will also take some pressure off the defense who will be learning a new system. Another area besides balance play calling is balanced touches and targets. Carlos Harris was targeted 40% of the time last year. That would’ve taken him into the tops amongst WRs in college football. NT needs other weapons who have potential to step up and be noticed on the field. Tee Goree, Turner Smiley, Darvin Kidsy are just a few WRs who need to step their game up. Marcus Smith really started to turn it on at the end of last year and had a good spring. Both Smith and Chris Loving at TE could make those 2 TE sets a little bit more dangerous to defend.
Step 3 Win that 1st conference game against Rice
North Texas has yet to win an opening conference game under Coach Mac. That needs to change this year. The first conference game is the home opener for NT, and it is the most important game on the schedule. Setting the tone the week before with a win against SMU would be great, but it’s not imperative. Losing the home opener and first conference game against Rice would be a devastating blow to this teams confidence.
Step 4 Keep the defense simple
It’s great to see a defense outsmart and confuse the opposing offense. That will be tough to do when your defense is learning a new system. NT has a new defensive coordinator in Chris Cosh. His goal should be to get his unit to play fast. If they are caught up thinking about what they need to do chances are the opposing team is breaking a big play. NT has a lot of athletes, but they are also replacing a few key COGs that were big parts of the defense last year. Replacing Lee, Akunne, & Jones won’t be easy. Keeping things simple and focusing on fundamentals will let the new starters make plays.
Step 5 Boost the Pass Rush
NT’s pass rush last year was not as dynamic as I thought it would be. The sack total dropped from 39 in 2013 to 33, but 10 of those sacks came against a cream puff Nicholls. This year NT has a schedule loaded with some really good passing teams. Best way to defend those teams is with a power pass rush. NT has a few guys who are talented pass rushers. Polk, Roberts, and Johnson all flashed passing rushing ability last year. This year NT is hoping those guys raise their game. NT also added JUCO DE pass rushing specialist Jareid Combs. Combs had 17 sacks in NJCAA last year.
Mean Green Nation Preseason Preview Series
I’m no expert, but I enjoy putting together a decent preview for the NT football season. This year I’ve listed out what to look forward to in our Preseason Preview.
Previewing the North Texas Defense
Top 5 New Comers
North Texas Projected Depth Chart
North Texas Player Ratings (Madden Style)
CUSA Unit Rankings
North Texas Stat Predictions
North Texas Bold Predictions