Home Field Advantage

North Texas Football has gone 16-7 over the three years McCarney has coached at Apogee. This is no unimpressive feat considering the era: Post Todd Dodge, the worst coach in North Texas history. In 2013, the Mean Green nearly went undefeated at home, barely losing (on the scoreboard, not in game control) to UTSA in the final – cold-as-hell – game. This season the team went 4-2, only losing to Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech, albeit in disgusting blowout fashion in both cases.

There is something to be said for taking care of business in your house. It helps to make a case for fandom to the Casual Fan.1

Home Record in Apogee:

  • 2011: 4-2. Wins: Indiana, FAU, ULM, Troy. Losses: Houston (opener), WKU
  • 2012: 3-2. Wins: Texas Southern (FCS), ULL, South Alabama Losses: Troy, ArkSt
  • 2013: 5-1. Wins: Idaho, Ball State, MTSU, Rice, UTEP, Losses: UTSA
  • 2014: 4-2. Wins: SMU, Nicholls State (FCS), FAU, FIU Losses: La Tech, Southern Miss

Record at home: 16-7. Record against FBS at home: 14-7.

Next year we likely will play five at home. I’m ambivalent about this considering there was an unofficial promise to never play less than six at home once we got the shiny new stadium, and the fact that about 200 people showed up for the finale. It is difficult to cry about the number of home games when the Metroplex doesn’t show up for them. Might as well take the cash from an SEC school or something.

That said, without buying a game from the likes of Texas Southern or Nicholls these last couple of years, we wouldn’t have had at least two wins. I’d love to see more home-and-homes with the Houstons and Indianas of the world. The new College Football Playoff puts a CUSA school in an ideal payday situation. FCS games don’t win you many CFP points, apparently. Surely a lower-tier Big 5 squad would swing though DFW to boost their schedule?

This is the difficult part about being in a desirable area. Thanks to the Death Star, other colleges have a place to show their wares to the highly-ranked high school football recruits here. They don’t need to swing through Denton.

I mention all this in an effort to say that I appreciate the difficulty presented to Athletic Director Rick Villarreal. I still don’t like having only one game on schedule. Here’s hoping we use some of the money Iowa and Tennessee are paying to squeeze in a last-minute FCS squad. Every one loves blowouts you know.

Post Script:

The dirty secret is that UNT has been absolutely atrocious on the road. Dan McCarney says that’s because we play good teams (meaning money games). To that I’d respond with UTEP, Rice, and UAB this year, along with Tulane & Ohio last year. Not exactly your college football glory programs. This poor record on the road is partly the reason UNT is a six-point underdog to an absolutely awful UTSA team on Saturday.

  1. The ever-elusive, the much sought-after, the one who barely knows sports anyway but whose dollars are coveted. 
Football Football Recaps

Ball State Film Room

The defense had a solid game, but it was far from perfect. There were some things that Ball State did that played right into our hands, and helped us along. I say that not entirely sure if it was just great scouting by Skladany and company knowing Ball State’s tendencies, or if Ball State underestimated our defense’s aggressiveness.

Let’s look at three plays where there was some read-option looks. Ball State may have a called hand-off here with an option look, or Wenning just read it poorly. Judging by how few times Wenning runs in general these have to be the former. Wenning does such a great job deciding when to throw the ball away when there isn’t a pass that I can’t believe he is that poor at reading these scenarios. Conversely, the success of the North Texas reads are a testament to Derek Thompson’s decision-making.

First play:


Here, Ball State gives a packaged play look. WR #8 looks to be setting up for a quick screen. This was one of a few situations like this throughout the game. On a true read, Wenning would likely have seen the advantage outside and hit the WR. The second read is the North Texas DE crashing. Wenning could have kept it and got a good five or six yards.

Let’s watch Derek Thompson run the same thing:


DT is reading the DE #11 and keeps when he sees him clearly unconcerned with the QB keeper. The Mean Green have been very run-heavy, and Reggie Pegram and Brandin Byrd had already got some good gains. This is just great play-calling by Mike Canales, and even better execution by the entire offense.

Here is another Ball State read look situation:


If this is a straight handoff call, then the TE completely misses his block. He should be hitting Chad Polk crashing down. Instead he floats off into space. Wenning had a nice seam there that likely would have gained more than the handoff did. Also of note: the WR #2 has tons of space to catch and run. Watch for CUSA teams to look to exploit that.

Let’s watch UNT run this thing better:


Again, Ball State is over-pursuing the potential Brelan Chancellor jet sweep. (That may have been a good idea after all. It looks like Brelan had tons of space to run.) North Texas caught Ball State in man coverage. This very well may have been a called run the whole time. If it was they did a great job selling the fake by pulling the guard. I doubt it though. It was an inverted-veer look


In taking a look at some of the turnovers forced, I noticed that mostly they were just the result of solid hits by Lairamie Lee and Zach Orr. James Jones’ was really just fortune smiling on him. The other forced turnover was Hitstick Lee showing some ball skills. Watching live I thought it was just a great jump by Lee, saving Kenny Buyers from getting beat for a first down. Instead it looks like Skladany baited Keith Wenning into that throw.


Because Ball State needed a first down here, I bet the progression was the Dig, then the TE. Most coaches teach a deep-to-short read progression, however. Wenning made the right throw … if the safety was playing over the top. He wasn’t. I’m wondering if we knew that Ball State liked to throw short stuff and so hedged our bets, accordingly. They did hit some longer outside stuff against Hilbert Jackson, but it looks like they missed a few opportunities. I pointed out that Wenning should have gone to the top mostly because he was reading that side of the field but if he looked over at Zac Whitfield, he would have saw Marcus Trice peeking in, and Zac beat by about a yard or two.

Interesting stuff.



Ball State Preview – 9.14.13

Let’s talk about Ball State. Sure, they are 2-0, have a pretty high number of passing yards, and are favored (by 3.5) at our house, but I still don’t believe the hype. Whooping up on Illinois State and Army don’t impress me much /Shania Twain voice.

Army had a terrible defense last year and that has continued into this year. Illinois State is FCS which, first week FCS v FBS results be damned, is still a weaker division. Ball State’s first two games were the equivalent of North Texas taking on Idaho two weeks in a row.

In McCarney’s era, NT has played much better at Apogee than away, going 8-4 and scoring about 3 points more per game than away. We are coming off a very close loss to the MAC’s projected champion at their house. In that one we were just one drive away from stealing it after we shot ourselves in the foot by gifting two TDs in the first half.

Forgive me if I’m not quaking in my green boots over here, guys.

The real story will be on offense, where we will see which Derek will show up. The one from the Idaho game and the second half of the Ohio game? Or the Derek from the first half of last game? The good news is that he isn’t vacillating wildly between great and terrible anymore. He showed some crispness in the second half comeback. I believe in Derek Thompson.

That doesn’t mean I am not intrigued by The Freshman Sensation, Dajon Williams. I’m betting he’ll get a series or two now that the Mean Green are back at home. I’m looking forward to seeing some of what has Danny Mac so excited about him.

That said, how do we win this game? Well, the offensive line will create bigger holes for Brandin Byrd, Antoinne Jimmerson and Reggie Pegram. They have had little daylight, contributing to the paltry 3.5 ypc. The bigger concern is the poor Success Rate. We stand at 41% according to the FO guys. That means we only successful at getting the necessary yardage on first down (50% of necessary yardage), second down (70% of the necessary yardage) and of course on thirds and fourths (100%) at a rate of 41%. If you have watched the games you’ve no-doubt noticed the second and third and longs we’ve faced, especially against Ohio. The 3rd down conversion rate last game was 28% (4 of 14).

I don’t care much which way we get the necessary yardage, but it seems Danny Mac wants to get it via the run game. Thus far it has had the effect of suffocating our offense. This has to get more successful or we need to vary the approach to getting first down yardage.

With the passing yards per play at 9+, it seems pretty obvious that there are opportunities available for the Derek and Company. Let that thing fly, ya’ll. For more on that reasoning read this excellent smartfootball post.. The run game will improve when we get the defense to respect the pass. We all know this and the message boards are saying the same thing.

Additional Reading

Football Recaps

The Bye Week

Oh to be as awsome and all powerful as ESPN. They got themselves as new internet site, didnt they? Local coverage is what they want to get into now. Durn conglomerates. Anyway, here is the link to the UNT home page.

I think what I hate most about them is that they are so damn good that there is no doubt that they will do a much better job than the local papers and news media. Dammit! Look at that- up to date-ness.

No, seriously the biggest and only problem I have with espndallas, boston, chicago and the others to come is that they have no competition. If this was happening while newspapers were still standing on two (financial) feet than I would be rooting for the usurper taking down the juggernauts. In that case the newspapers-with their iron grip of information flow locally would actually have to compete with someone. I love me some competition.

In this case however, how well can the newspapers compete? I dunno. They might have to do something radical and gasp! compete.

With that said, the internet is largely secondary information. Without newpapers sending their beat writers out to listen to another boring press conference (isn’t press a little outdated?) bloggers wouldn’t be able to regurgitate quotes from the head coach.

Such is life.

Coming this week: A look ahead.

Sunbelt Stuff

Stop Gap Post

Is it me or does Middle have the worst uniforms? Why do they look purple in this picture? I always have hated that KSU-metallic-grayish helmet color and that helmet style doesn’t even match their Northwestern-jockin’ unis. That logo looks like it was made for a USFL team.


Football Recaps

NT v Alabama: 53-7

Well, that was embarassing, huh?
It was very apparent that we had no business being on the field with those guys. It is foolish to think we had a chance at an upset huh? I don’t think anyone can make a decent argument that there was anything that we could do better that would have made us competitive. The horrible truth is that the guys on ‘Bama are bigger, faster, and stronger than we are. It was evident in the way they shoved both lineman around and brushed off would-be tacklers while sprinting away from the rest.
They seriously didn’t look like they broke a sweat. How horrible.
Quotes from other people:
“We look like kids, they look like men.”
“How sad”
“We suck”
“They don’t look like they even have to try”
I say next time we want to schedule a money game we schedule a Big Ten team. The little guys at least win against those dudes. (Central Mich, N Ill, App St, N Iowa had a chance, N Dakota St, )
So, now that our required shellacking is over-with, we can look to conference play. Mid Tennesee is looking decent with that win over Maryland. We get KiDodge back.
The best news is that we can actually compete physically with the opponent.
In Other News:
There was no recap of Ohio because MGN has been busy doing school related things. Also no MGN v Competition because of the same reason. I did play some dude NT v Bama and got beat 38-7 though. Eh.
This week:
MTSU preview.
Why there is NOT going to be a QB controversy ( you doob)
MGN v the Competition: Blue Raiders

MGN Takes on the Competition: Ohio and Wins!

Here is the game:


MGN Takes on the Competition: Ohio

Hey everyone! Remember me? Well tonight friday night at 6pm I will be taking on Budweiser_5 from the bobcatattack board!

Figured alot of people are watching opening night right now.
Football Recaps

Good Guys Win: Mean Green 20 – Ball St 10

So? That North Texas: Aren’t they 1-0?

Hell. Yes.

First off, your humble MGN scribe turned 24 yesterday. Being a loyal but practical kind of guy I planned to watch the game until it became unwatchable (like I said, practical) and then proceed to my birthday festivities. Turns out the only unwatchable parts were the awful Campus Connection spots. Thankfully, I couldn’t hear them very well over the cheers.

It was awesome. After taking most of the day to soak it all in, I think I can say with relative certainty that a collective weight has been lifted. One that we didn’t know we were carrying.

The cynic in me says: ‘dude that was one game.’ This is an inarguable point. Yes, it was one game, but it wasn’t just one game. Let me explain:

Any of you remember starting class in elementary or middle/junior high school without knowing if any of your friends were going to have the same teacher? Maybe it was a new-school type thing for you. In any case, this season is like that. Many of us walked into the classroom with trepidation and dread. Then we sat down and met a cool ass kid and then things suddenly looked up. You think that maybe this year isn’t going to suck like you thought it might’ve.

If you don’t believe me just look at all the reactions all over the internets., the alumni on the Ticket, twitter, the newspapers and so on. Proving that point is not my goal here so I won’t clutter your time with examples that support that thought. Just go with me here.

Last night tweeted: ‘ its like we are a real life football team.’

I thought I was being original in that thought. I wasn’t.

I think that statement just about sums up fan reaction.

We all feel this way because, like many are saying*, it wasn’t a fluke-y win. We kicked their ass with that ground game, had explosive plays, and had a hard-hitting, stingy defense -with a little hard hitting kick coverage unit thrown in for good measure.

In all the ways that we sucked last year- tackling, being explosive, coverage, grit, clutchness, etc -we were better. I think there is no better way than to sum it up. We are actually competitive. Whowouldathunk?

The thing that most inspires the fan base right now is not even the performance but the attitude behind it. Its been talked about throughout the preseason. Everyone was saying how the team looked tougher and more together and how the attitude was so different from last year. I didn’t watch preseason practice. I couldn’t say one way or another if this was true.

For me the thing that made me believe that this wasn’t an aberration wasn’t the statistical and physical dominance (we should have scored those 13 points we let get away btw). George Dunham interviewed Riley after the game. The guy just sounded like he had been the starting QB for the last 4 years. He said all the right things, giving credit to the defense, both lines, his backs and receivers, reassuring the fan base that there was more of this to come and even threw up the Eagle Claw to the fans in the stands.

It made me think, This Riley guy is a cool ass dude. Maybe this year isn’t gonna be that bad after all.

Other Things:


I suppose the mini MG fever sweeping the metroplex may have something to do with the fact that we beat a MAC team, let alone one coming off a 12 win-nationally talked about season. I did do my part in converting a non-fan. After taking him to the watching party -and forcing him to deck out in Mean Green- his Facebook status the next day:

Had my first UNT football game watching experience and it didn’t suck. They won and I really wasn’t expecting that. No body was. Kinda weird. Am I a fan now?… Go mean green?

Lucky Gear:

Everyone has their lucky gear they don for the games. I think I have my new one(s):


I lose. MGN Takes on Ball St and loses

Part 1

part 2