Can UNT turn potential into production?
In 2014 the North Texas offense never got going. It was atrocious and just out right unwatchable at times. 2015 will be different it has to be different. If changes aren’t made and there is no progress then the 2015 Mean Green will be staring at a 2 or 3 win season. Nobody wants to see that, but its truth. 2015 has presented NT with arguably the toughest conference schedule they’ve had to face in a long time. There is reason for hope with this new Mean Green team. The offensive roster is loaded with potential. Yes its un-proven, but talent is there. There should be no complaints this year about NT not being talented enough to win games. The WR and RB positions have enough potential weapons to make this NT offense the most explosive since Coach McCarney was hired in 2011. It would certainly be nice to do it in those new jerseys that just got teased. I believe in the motto “look good, feel good, play good.” Yes the QB position is up for debate again, but McNulty should be better, and DaMarcus Smith really looks like he could be the answer. The OL lost a lot of starts, well more like a ton of starts, but Mike Simmonds really can coach’em up. He has Kaydon Kirby at C to direct traffic out there. Its not like there isn’t talent at that position either.
Then there is the debate of spread up-tempo offense vs. the traditional grind it out power rushing attack. McCarney is in favor of the grind it out offense, but he may be leaning towards the move to a spread up-tempo look. Spring games arent usually a good indication of whats to come, but I believe what we saw this spring is the type of offense we will see in the fall. Why? Well it favors both McNulty and Smith at QB. They are both spread QBs instead of drop back pocket passers. It will create simpler decisions, which will lead to quicker decisions for the QBs. Those quicker decisions get the ball out to the play makers like Carlos Harris or potential play maker Tee Goree in space. Explosive play makers in space equal points on the board and the Mean Green would love to light up the scoreboards this year. Plus with a new defensive scheme being put in, it could really help the defense. The spread up-tempo could also still do the things that Coach Mac wants. It could still wear down opposing defenses in the 4th quarter. Jeffery Willson and Jimmerson could be the dynamic duo that seals games. Oh wouldn’t that be a pretty site?
In order to be successful the 2015 NT Offense Must:
- Solve the QB Problem
- Improve explosiveness (4.4 yards per play is unacceptable)
- Balance the play calling
- Spread the ball around to the weapons
- Shore up the pass protection, way to many hits on the QB last year
- Open up better running lanes
- Find a WR to complement Carlos Harris
- Score more TD’s in the red zone, FGs are nice but TDs win games
By now everyone is aware of the troubles that NT had last year at QB. From the first snap against Texas it was nothing, but bad. Sure there were a few moments of good play, but those were short lived. The thought by many fans heading into last year was that NT would be better at QB. Well not so much. It was a constant struggle for the QB unit to find a suitable replacement for Derek Thompson. JUCO Josh Greer started and quickly showed he didn’t have the goods. Dajon got a look, but couldn’t get over the turnover bug. Andrew McNulty got his chance and showed good effort, but didn’t have enough talent to make a difference. Now NT has turned the page to 2015 and they are still searching for answers. McNulty had a good spring and showed some strides during the spring game. Williams left the program and Greer is still searching for his confidence which disappeared against Texas in about 2 minutes. So NT is left with McNulty and another JUCO hero DaMarcus Smtih. Smith was a highly recruited 4 star QB out of Kentucky who has been all over. Smith did some nice work for Butler CC and his highlight reel has NT fans hoping that he make those same highlights in a green and white jersey.
Biggest Question Mark
Can DaMarcus Smith unseat McNulty a top the depth chart before the season opener against SMU?
One word will define the 2015 NT running back unit – explosiveness. Jeffery Wilson will go into fall camp as the number 1 guy on the depth chart and he deserves it. Wilson combines an aggressive running style with speed. Both the coaching staff and fans are exciting about what Wilson could bring to the offense this year. When talking about the RB’s one can’t forget about the Jimmy Show. Antoinne Jimmerson is Mr. Big Game. When the lights shine brightest is when Jimmerson puts on his show. Jimmerson is sometimes a dancer in the backfield, but he does always tend to make that first tackler miss. He is a nice complementary back to Wilson. There are a few other guys who could make impacts for this unit. Willy Ivery is a speed back that could see touches in multiple ways. Look for Offensive Coordinator Mike Canales to get Ivery the ball in space with screen and swing passes. Fullback Jarrod Lynn can pick up those 3 & Short situations and is a capable blocker. Rex Rollins is coming back from a nasty shoulder injury, but he has some good straight line speed and size.
Biggest Question Mark
Does the lack of a power back signal a change in the offensive philosophy?
Was it the QB or failed development that held the 2014 WR unit back? It was probably a little bit of both. One player who stepped up to grab the spot light was Carlos Harris. Harris is a tremendous competitor who just wanted to succeed. At times you could see the frustration in his body language, but he never stopped competing. Harris is back to close out his career at NT with bang, but he will need help because he can’t do everything himself. To help Harris NT has a young up and coming speedster Turner Smiley. Smiley had a great spring and spring game. He has vaulted himself into a starter role. Highly touted Tee Goree redshirted last year, but he has the potential to be really good this year. Darvin Kidsy is explosive with the ball in his hands just look to his return ability. Problem for Kidsy is he struggles to catch the ball sometimes. O’Keeron Rutherford has the size to be a great red zone target, but needs to add a little muscle. UNT also brought in JUCO WR Thaddeous Thompson who racked up 642 yards and 7 TDs last year at Scottsdale CC. Thompson could provide a big outside target WR that NT is lacking right now. All these guys have potential to be weapons, but Carlos Harris is the only proven weapon. Whoever the NT QB turns out to be he should have plenty of options to sling the rock to. This WR group could turn out to be the best NT group in a long time.
We can’t forget about the TE targets. Marcus Smith could be an absolute beast out there. He is the one guy on this team that I could absolutely see on Sundays. NT is going to line Smith all over the place. His athleticism allows NT to spread the field while still providing good run blockers out there. Chris Loving was supposed to be a big time player, but he hasn’t lived up to the hype yet. The good news for NT fans is that he showed some flashes in the spring game that lead me to believe he could be a weapon this year. He isn’t as athletic as Marcus Smith, but he still pretty athletic. Smith and Loving on the field at the same time could give a few team trouble this fall.
Biggest Question Mark
Carlos Harris and Marcus Smith are the top 2 targets, but who steps up at the WR position to take pressure and coverage off of Carlos Harris?
Paul Brown one the greatest NFL Coaches always thought the best way to build teams was down the middle. Well NT has a really good building block in the middle with Rimington and Lombardi Watch List C Kaydon Kirby. Kirby is quite the story. He came to NT as a walk on and worked his way into a starting position against some great competition. Outside of Kirby there are a lot of unknowns. NT brough in JUCO transfer G/C Brian Ochs to help out at one of guard spots. Ochs played with DaMarcus Smith at Butler CC. OL Sam Rice transferred from rival SMU to NT last year and had to sit out. Now he is eligible and provides experience and talent to an OL in need of it. At the Tackle positions it will be intresting to see who the Mean Green walks out there against SMU. Michael Banogu had a good spring and got some time last year at LT. Banogu looking more and more like a lock for the LT position. At RT there is a little bit more uncertainty. Chris Miles and Micah Thompson will be battling it out. Miles was a highly recruited kid and has great potential. Miles should be able to hold of Thompson for the starting RT job. This OL unit may not have the accolades that the 2014 unit had, but they do have an edge in athleticism. That should allow the Mean Green to really work the zone blocking scheme out of the shot gun formations. Ideally you want an athletic OL if you’re going to be running a spread offense instead of the road graders.
Biggest Question Mark
Can Tackles Chris Miles and Michael Banogu prove to be suitable tackles?
- 86 Career Starts
- 6 Starters
- 55% of the Total Rushing Yards
- 52% of the Total Rushing TDs
- 71% of the Total Passing Yards
- 46% of the Total Passing TDs
- 76% of the Total Receiving Yards
- 92% of the Total Receiving TDs
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.
North Texas Player Ratings (Madden Style)
North Texas Stat Predictions
North Texas Bold Predictions