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Football Recruiting

JUCO-stravaganza

Now that we’re two-weeks removed from the conclusion of the 2014 football season, recruiting season is officially upon us. Coaches will work relentlessly in order to sign their top targets on Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 — National Signing Day.

However, before NSD there is a much less-hyped, yet more immediately impactful signing day taking place this Wednesday, December 17th, 2014. That day is for Junior College (JUCO) signees who are set to become mid-term enrollees and enroll in the spring semester. That allows them to participate in the crucial spring practices.

Heading into this offseason our coaches are tasked with replacing twelve players who started at least six games (six on each side of the ball). Among these twelve seniors were all three of our all-conference players. Combine these personnel losses with actual loss-column losses — a 4-8 season1 in which we struggled to legitimately compete against the few .500 or better teams we faced — and you’ve got a good recipe for a busy JUCO recruiting season.

During the year, as some panic was beginning to set in, we saw some JUCO offers going out at new positions and we’ve seen more since the season has ended. We’ve also hosted quite a few JUCO visitors in Denton. Here’s a look at what JUCO positions we are looking at filling and who the recruits/candidates are. I’ve listed the positions in order of likelihood that we’ll sign a JUCO player in that position. I’m also not listing every JUCO offer we have out, since some have already committed elsewhere or have eliminated us from contention.

Just the realistic options.

Offensive line:

Losing four of five starters, this is an obvious need. We’ve already received a commitment from JUCO interior lineman Brian Ochs, but offensive tackle is the position to look out for here. Not only do we lose both starting tackles, but none of the young guys were able to emerge and take the right tackle spot in fall camp, prompting the coaches to move Cyril Lemon from guard to tackle. Those young guys still could claim a spot this year and end up being good players, but taking a JUCO OT or two is almost a necessary insurance policy.

  • OT Justin Sandifer (visited 12/5/14), listed offers from Louisville, Georgia, Florida, and Miss State.2

  • OT Preston Brooksby (visited 12/5/14), listed offers from UTSA, Old Dominion, Georgia State, and Weber State.

  • OT James Works, listed offers from East Carolina, Marshall, Georgia State, Idaho, Utah State, UAB3

Defensive back:

Another obvious position of need, with 3 of 4 starters graduating. Losing two safeties makes that an obvious spot to potentially add a JUCO. Additionally, losing second-team all CUSA cornerback James Jones is huge. Jones has played a crucial role for the UNT defense the past two years; being tasked with covering the boundary side of the field and usually matching up with the opposing team’s best receiver.

  • CB Quinton Lane (visited 12/5/14), listed offers from South Alabama, Louisiana Lafayette, Troy, Hawaii, Southern Miss, Jackson State, Jacksonville State

  • Safety James Scott (visited 12/10/14), listed offers from Kansas[^4], Southern Miss, South Alabama

  • CB Wesley Bailey, listed offers from Indiana, MTSU, Idaho, Utah State, Georgia State

Linebacker:

2014 saw a noticeable, yet inevitable dropoff in production at linebacker following the loss of NFL’er Zach Orr and fellow starter Will Wright. In addition to still trying to fill the shoes of those players, we now have to replace our one consistent linebacker from last year in first-team all CUSA linebacker Derek Akunne. Akunne was also our only linebacker with the legitimate size you look for in a SAM (strongside) linebacker. The JUCOs we are recruiting seem to be bulkier, inside linebacker types who may both be given the chance to fill Akunne’s spot at SAM or compete to replace Fred Scott and Anthony Wallace at middle linebacker if they don’t pick things up and have a good spring.

  • LB Antreon Bennett (visited 12/5/14), listed offers from Charleston Southern, SE Louisiana

  • LB AJ Hotchkins, listed offers from Bowling Green, Southern Miss, Texas State, Georgia State, Idaho

  • LB Jamal Lucas, listed offers from Texas State and UAB

Quarterback:

The position that is most highly debated going forward. Many fans want a JUCO QB who can come in and immediately jumpstart our offense, but most fans also agree our success with JUCO QBs under McCarney has been poor. The coaches have said we will be signing a guy here. I believe if we don’t sign a JUCO QB to come in and be a mid-term transfer then that may be a good indication we’ll look to add a graduate transfer QB sometime before next season.

NOTE: we have not offered these two qbs as of yet, but have expressed interest.

  • QB Damarcus Smith (visited 12/5/14), not seeing much info on him. Highly recruited out of high school.

  • QB Jake Hubenak, offer from San Diego State

 


  1.  Against one of the worst schedules in the FBS 
  2. Georgia, Florida, Miss State offers do not appear to be committable 
  3. UAB football program has disbanded 
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Football Football Recaps

SMWHO? North Texas 43 SMU 6

Saturday’s win was oddly more satisfying than I thought it would be. I am not from Dallas and do not have the history to muster up the hate George Dunham did during the Labor Day coaches’ show.

My relationship with SMU dates to 2006, when I saw North Texas beat them down 24-6. I went to Gerald Ford Stadium in 2007 to watch Todd Dodge’s air show and 600+ yards passing from Daniel Meager. Both were fun in their own way. Both schools could have used a regularly occurring game between the two to drum up some kind of interest in our respective programs in the seven years since.

For me, last year’s loss to UTSA hurt more than 2007’s loss to the Ponies ever did so beating SMU at Apogee is second to exacting revenge in San Antonio this November. Even though we’ll be playing for Metroplex bragging rights for the next decade, non-conference wins and losses can only mean so much. Still, after enduring snooty message board posts from SMUers insisting on calling us NTSU, it was nice to see all fifty of their fans endure that complete and thorough beat down at the hands of their “lessers.”

For the non-message board reader1 you were likely more interested in our quarterbacking situation than “rivalries.” Well, you were impressed by the completed passes to our own players. Yet, you likely wanted a touch more than Josh Greer, Andrew McNulty and even (surprise!) Dajon Williams2 showed you.

Well, the mark of a good showman is always leaving the crowd wanting more. I will be tuning in Thursday night for the game against conference-mate Louisiana Tech.3 I hope to see a lot more of what we showed Saturday morning with a bit more zip on the passes from our trio of QBs.

That said, I am very satisfied with that win over SMU. If we can’t beat a team that everyone knows (Texas) at least we can beat up on a team everyone in the Metroplex knows. 4 Hey. You can’t be famous worldwide if you aren’t famous in your own town-plex.

One other thought before we get into arbitrary grades: if June Jones had worked this the right way he’d be the toast of Dallas right now. He had Baylor, North Texas, TAMU and TCU all lined up. Instead of beating5 an all-Texas lineup and taking his program to new levels of recognition, he is taking SMU on a shame-tour through all parts of the state.

Let’s grade with non-sensical grades!6

Offense: B

We sure can run the ball at Apogee against mediocre-to-bad competition. That sounds like I am being snarky but I am not. Some teams play down to their opponent. We were playing a bad team and ran over them with power. That is about all we can confidently do and for that I am grateful. Reggie Pegram powered through the SMU defense early behind a line that wanted to prove they were better than they showed last week. He ran hard and well, despite what his pedestrian yards-per-carry average may indicate. That average mostly had to do with the Ponies disrespecting our pass game and the intense focus they placed on (attempting to) stop the run.

Josh Greer completed passes early and often, but nothing spectacular, and certainly did nothing that will put a scare in the conference’s best defenses. We do not need a Daniel Meager game, but we do need to keep the defense honest occasionally. He was miles more accurate Saturday than he was in Austin, but he missed some opportunities to hit Carlos Harris, Darius Terrell, and Darvin Kidsy in stride. Too often they had to make a spectacular catch (Kidsy) or get on their knees for a dipping, wobbly ball (the others).

Against SMU’s soft defense, that was enough. Against UTSA — or even LaTech? – those passes need to be crisper.

I think the coaching staff realizes as much. Andrew McNulty was in setup man duty as the game was pretty much over with at halftime. He didn’t get much of a chance but he didn’t do anything ridiculous so it is hard to judge him harshly.

The same can be said about Dajon Williams’ performance. He dutifully handed the ball to freshman running backs a few of times and even scrambled a bit. It was a nice glimpse of his dynamism. I hope he realizes the opportunity fate has presented him and takes full advantage of it. He obviously has the most potential of the three QBs. It would be great if he checks whatever boxes Dan McCarney needs him to check.

The offense moved the ball unspectacularly on a day when they really could have put up jaw-dropping numbers. It was nice to see the simple play-action stuff that we asked for post-Texas game.

Also impressive: Jimmerson, Wilson and Evans.

Defense: A+

This is the North Texas defense we remember from 2013. Last year’s group was the team’s heart and soul. They scored, they made spectacular plays, they won games for us. That was with our senior, record-setting quarterback at the helm. If we had any chance to live up to even the third-place hype the defense would have to be something like 2013.

The good news is that they are.

In two games against a decent-yet-talented team (Texas) and a terrible-yet-horrible one (SMU), they have performed outstandingly well. We had hard hits (Derek Akunne) that led to INTs (Dutton Watson) just like last year! Chad Polk forced a fumble that led to Jarrian Roberts‘ score and Lairamie Lee grabbed an interception, too. Everyone tackled well and this would have been a perfect game if the third team had stopped the Hail Mary and if there were not so many penalties all game. 7

Kenny Buyers was targeted deep on double moves a few times. This was mostly a function of SMU throwing to their best wideout and our tendency to jump short routes. It worked only once, and Kenny Buyers was there to defend it. If we can continue to get a good pass rush those double move routes will be more risky for the opponent than they are dangerous to our defense. Chad Polk’s sack-fumble came after Burcham pump-faked.

The team tackled well, made big plays, and even scored. There is damn near next to nothing else you could ask for.

Special Teams: A

How about a hand for true freshman Trevor Moore? Five FGs, three of which were from 40-plus yards out. The only complaint is that he had to be out there at all. I see why he won the job.

The punt team was awesome, again. They pinned SMU deep, which made it easy on the defense, which made it easy for the offense to get into position for Trevor Moore to do his thing. The punt return game still hasn’t found its groove. Carlos Harris had only one decent return (fifteen yards). I thought I saw him yell at Zac Whitfield for not blocking his man well enough. Against better teams we will need this unit to share some of the yardage-gaining load but against SMU that was not necessary.

Coaching: B

Of all the super-subjective grades I could give out, this is the most subjective, ill-informed one. The staff did a hell of a job getting everyone prepared to take on SMU after such a disappointing first game. Still, given the collective embarrassment, that wasn’t going to be very hard at all. The real coaching performance will come this week as McCarney and company prepare for a good Louisiana Tech team on a short week. Kudos for not ruining Josh Greer’s confidence. Kudos for motivating the QBs by putting pressure on him to re-win the job. I know Greg and many of you disagree with the on-going QB competition, thinking that it takes repetitions away from the starter when they are sorely needed. I think it is a solid piece of team management. No one else is getting a free pass to underperform and neither should the most important position player. Whoever proves their worth will have to earn it. Right now that is likely going to be Josh Greer.


  1. A healthy choice! Good for you! 
  2. Freshman Sensation! 
  3. @BleedTechBlue gave me more fan-opposition on Sunday than any SMU fan did all week. Even more reason to put “rival” in quotes. 
  4. Texas’ terrible game against BYU only served to anger me about last week’s game even more. If we had a passing game against the Longhorns I think an upset was a very real possibility. This serves to make me even more nervous about every game we go into this year and at the same time very confident in our chances. Football is weird. 
  5. Or at least being competitive for goodness sake. 
  6. I refuse to spell this “correctly” because it brings me such joy. Inside jokes are the best jokes. 
  7. Kenny Buyers had two pass-interference penalties by my count. One was very questionable and the other was fairly clear. Overall this was a very penalized game. I’ll chalk that up to ornery refs on a hot late-summer day. 
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Football Football Recaps

MGN Film Room: Texas

Welcome to the first MGN Film Room session of 2014. Unfortunately we do not have many fun plays at which to look. The best thing to do is look at our worst passing plays of the first half. Why the first and not the second? Well, we combined for three interceptions and a couple of back-breaking sacks in the only half where we had a chance. Let’s take a look at them in order.

First up: Josh Greer early in the first half. North Texas was on its second possession and the defense was playing well. A decent drive would — at the very least — give the defense some good field position to challenge Texas’ offense with.

Here is how it ended:

Greer's First INT
Greer’s First INT

Let’s go through the above. The play call is a version of Levels , a play that does a great job of beating Cover 2. That is exactly what Texas was in so this should have been a successful pass play.

Texas had three down lineman and the linebackers showed blitz. Instead of bringing everyone, they brought only five, and dropped a linebacker into the middle. Greer and Marcus Smith both see the LB. Smith adjusts his route enough to get open in space. Greer simply misses him badly. If he puts the ball about knee-height we’d likely have seen Smith make the catch and avoid the big hit.

Conclusion: This was the right read, the line had good protection, the receiver ran a decent route.1 This should have been a completion.

Next Interception: Josh Greer’s second interception of the day was his worst.

greer INT
Josh Greer’s second interception

The play call is all hitch routes. The idea here is to have an easy read and throw for the QB, and get most, if not all, of the yardage necessary for a first down. It is a fairly conservative play call. The problem was that Texas had this completely blanketed. Because Greer never looks left, he misses the “hot” read in the left slot. This wasn’t going to be open to him unless he saw it immediately. Greg and I discussed the reads Greer has on the podcast. It very well may be that Canales has him only reading half the field here. As both receivers are blanketed by one Texas defender, a normal read would be to the left. This play was designed to get the ball out quickly, and Josh was likely going to get sacked if he did anything else but throw it away. Instead, he tries to force the throw to Darius Terrell, who is doing a good job of adjusting his route. It looks to me like he was going to head for the space int he middle of the field behind Hicks. He wasn’t going to be open, but at least he was trying.

Conclusion:This was likely the only read Josh had so we’ll say it was wrong. I’m not sure, but I’d bet the QB is reading the flats defender. If he takes the outside away, the throw is to the slot (Terrell). He never saw Hicks and that is why he threw it right to him. He didn’t see him because he was staring down his target. There was nothing fancy by Texas defensively, nor was there any great pressure. This should have been a pass into the second row above Carlos Harris’ head.

Greer was benched right after this.

Andrew McNulty benefited from some nice runs from his backs before had a pass play called for him.

It wasn’t pretty.

Minimac sacked
Andrew McNulty sacked

At first glance this looks like RB Reggie Pegram’s fault. I certainly blamed him from my vantage point in Section 31. Texas brings seven men, and UNT blocks with five. If Reggie had stayed in and blocked the free man down the middle Andrew would have had his pick of open guys before the free blitzer got close. Look again how open his outside receiver is when he reaches the end of his drop.

When we look at it from a different angle we can see why Coach McCarney and company were so angry with the offensive line.

Sacked again
Endzone view of sack-eration

Texas had their defensive end lined up wide and the Mean Green offensive line slide over to compensate. I’m not familiar enough with the NT protection scheme to tell you exactly what should have happened, but you can see the miscommunication. It seems to me that Kaydon Kirby should have picked up Texas’ 99 and Y’Barbo should have picked up Texas’ 7. The rules might be that the entire line was supposed to slide, in which case it is Antonio Johnson we should be upset with. We do know that there was miscommunication.

Conclusion: Here is the poor line play that we heard about all week from the coaches, and Y’Barbo himself. This could have been a big gain if Mini-Mac had some time to throw. Instead, NT was forced to punt, and Texas scored on the ensuing drive.

Down 21-0 with no offense to speak of and the defense tiring quickly without any rest, any hopes of keeping it a game vanished after Andy threw his first interception, North Texas’ third.

Operating from midfield with just under a minute remaining, there was plenty of time to get in scoring position. Facing 2nd and 5 against a soft Texas prevent defense, Mike Canales called Four Verticals, the best passing play in football.

Mac's 2nd INT
Andrew McNulty’s first interception

If you’ve watched Mike Leach’s Texas Tech (or any Air Raid team for that matter) you’ve likely seen this play. If you’ve played any NCAA Football you’ve likely called this play. Andrew McNulty’s man was running right down the middle and was overthrown at fifteen yards. This particular play has a play-fake built in. The blitzing DB didn’t bite on the fake and McNulty did not step into his throw. You can judge for yourself if he is avoiding contact or just doesn’t step into his throw for some other reason.

Conclusion: This should have been an 18-yard completion that would have put North Texas in a good spot with plenty of time left and three time-outs.

If North Texas was ever going to produce an upset they needed each of the above plays to have been successful, or at least not as bad as they were. It is simplistic and pretty obvious but football isn’t an overly complicated game. Squandering opportunities so easily was frustrating and you can see why the quarterback competition is going to be re-opened.2 The other passes called ended with a kneel down, poorly thrown balls, and a few more sacks. Take the poor throws you see above and imagine them hitting the ground instead of the other team. That was all the variety we saw.


  1. He should have taken his route to the first down marker or right underneath to put vertical pressure on the secondary. That would create the space he would need in the middle. As it was, the DBs were waiting on this route combination. 
  2. I don’t know how much of this is just motivation. We shall see. 
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Football

2014 Preview: Offensive Outlook & Coaching Staff

Editor’s note: The following is part 3 of the comprehensive Season Preview Breakdown that can be found here, in pdf form. Follow @MGN_Breakdown for more stuff from Greg and @meangreennation for more MGN.

See Part 1 here
See Part 2 here
*

On the offensive side of the ball UNT will be trying to replace some of the most productive players and explosive players the program has ever had.

A quick look at what McCarney will be replacing: 7248 total yards, 44 touchdowns, 13 offensive line starts, and 60% of all the passing targets from last year. Gaudy numbers indeed. Replacing guys like Brelan Chancellor and Darnell Smith will not be easy. Offensive Coordinator Mike Canales will lean on Carlos Harris, Darvin Kidsy, and Darius Terrell. They should provide a solid group of targets for whomever wins the starting QB job.

Also look for production from Turner Smiley, John Chelf, and Carl Caldwell. It would also not be surprising to see one of the true freshmen make some kind of impact. The most dynamic of the freshmen group may be Tee Goree who destroyed his high school competition. The WR group looks to be a fun to watch once the fall rolls around. In discussing the receiving core one can’t forget the TE. Last year’s group was nothing flashy, but they were solid and did exactly what was needed. This year TE Marcus Smith returns and he looks to build upon what was a great ending to the year. If Smith can improve his catching he has the ability to be a difference maker for the Mean Green. At 6-4, 255 he is a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses.

At running back the program is loaded with good talent. Yes, Brandin Byrd was a great productive back, but together Antonnie Jimmerson and Reggie Pegram could match his production. That’s only two of the players who will get touches.  Guys like Erick Evans, Mark Lewis, Rex Rollins, and possibly FR Willey Ivery could all get looks. All of whom have shown ability to make big plays. It will be a crowded backfield, but that’s exactly how UNT likes it. Each one of the guys mentioned brings a little something different. Jimmerson is shifty, while Pegram is a bruiser. Evans is lightning quick while Lewis excels in short yardage situations.

Finally, and what may be the most vital group to the team’s success is the offensive line. This group will return 4 out of the 5 starters. Two of the guys in this group Cyril Lemon and Antonio Johnson could end up being the guys that break the draft-drought for North Texas. Cyril Lemon has started every game the past three years, which is quite the feat. Lemon who has played OG for most if not all his time at UNT will get a chance to spread his wings this year with a move to OT. Moving into Lemon’s guard spot will be Shawn McKinney. McKinney played in 12 games last year and started 2 at RG. Shawn is a mountain of a man standing at 6’4 365 lbs, he will be a key part is clearing paths for the UNT run game. Center Kaydon Kirby was a great success story last year, coming from nowhere to earn the starting job. He is only a RS-Sophmore and should benefit from starting 13 games last year. Starting at LG will be SR Mason Y’Barbo. Y’Barbo is the nasty man of the offensive line. He not only looks the part of a tough rugged man he plays the part too. Finally at LT will be Antonio Johnson who has been a starter since his FR year. He has been a rock at the LT position for UNT. This group have been outstanding during their years here. The past two they have given up the fewest sacks in the country while also helping the running game amass over 4400 yards.

This year’s offense attack will not differ from years past under Coach McCarney and Coach Canales. It will be focused on a punishing running game and ball protection. Canales will also not shy away from taking shots down the field when it has the opportunity.

What is different from years past is that there is new quality talent ready to step up and replace the stars of the past right away. In 2011 & 12 it was a huge question mark if there were any play makers on the team– outside of a few names. Now it is a question of which guy out of 5 or 6 will step up. Unlike years past the talent is there; now that talent just needs to be paired with opportunity. There will be plenty of opportunity for the new guys to put their stamp on this 2014 UNT football team. This year’s offense has explosive ability. Five or six WRs have the ability to turn 5 yard catches into 20+. The running backs are explosive and powerful, and at least 2 or 3 of them could have 100+ yard games. The quarterback position is a question, but the guys battling for the job provide a boost in athleticism. UNT could also see more production from the QB-run game. It all adds up to an offense that has the potential to take people by surprise. The question is, how long will it take for everything to come together?

COACHING STAFF

Coach McCarney lost two of his key assistants this offseason and both of them were on the defensive side of the ball. There are no worries because of his connections and respect in the college football landscape he was able to replace the departures with quality hires. The new DL coach is Kevin Patrick who spent time with Coach Mac in South Florida. In the secondary the new hires are Perry Carter (Safeties) and LaMarcus Hicks (Corners). Both of these guys spent time in the NFL as players. Coach Carter was recently coaching with the Houston Texans. Coach Hicks coached DB’s at Concordia University in 2013. Hicks is a previous player for Coach Mac at Iowa St.

The coaching staff at UNT is one of the best in CUSA and in the state of Texas. Most of the coaches have been with Danny Mac since he started at UNT. They’ve played a tremendous role in resurrecting UNT from the college football graveyard. While some fans criticize play calling, development, and other things I will chose to congratulate this staff on what they’ve accomplished. There are a lot of wise men on this staff and the fan base is lucky to have such a great collection of coaches for cheap.

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Football Football Recaps

North Texas 13 UTSA 21: Post Mortem

Let us all give due praise to the new UTSA football program. They came into Apogee and put up 450+ yards against a good defensive unit, on a cold day in Denton. The didn’t look scared, they didn’t get rattled, they played their game and won.

That said, it wasn’t as we haven’t seen this before. This was more a North Texas loss than it was a UTSA win. The offense struggled, and the defense — although it gave up 75% conversation rate on 3rd downs and got lit up for 450 yards — did what it was supposed to do: hold UTSA out of the end zone for a lot of the game. Giving up 21 points is not an automatic loss. On the flip side, the offense couldn’t move the ball because of drops, overthrows, and penalties, and even worse — couldn’t score once it got to the end zone. UTSA has a nice defense, and our offense isn’t very explosive. We know this. This shouldn’t have been such a dismal effort.

If it was the bye, the coaching, the mentality or the cold — I don’t much care. The fact remains that the offense was not good enough until late. The defense played poorly but wasn’t awful. Also, we were on the end of some terrible calls. That all adds up to a night where we finally caught a break — a gift of one second to run a play — and we throw an interception.

Let’s break it all down, in order of Outrage:

The Refs

I hate, HATE, to blame the refs for anything but they sure made it hard for me to stick to my own rule. The punt thing sure looked like UTSA’s Monroe touched it. That would have set up the offense in the red zone (which I mean, with the way we were playing offense means a field goal? Maybe?). They ruled the play ‘stands’ which means they couldn’t see it touching him. That is either bad luck, or terrible reffing. It was early, so this is forgivable. Everyone makes mistakes.

Later, there was another play right before the half where Soza hit Marcellus Mack — the ball bounced off the grass and into his hands. Clearly. I was sitting in the lower Wing Zone so I had a perfect view of this. Called a catch. WUT.

Most egregious was probably the terrible no-call on the pass interference along the West sideline on the pass to Darnell Smith.

All that said, the refereeing just made the game more difficult. These calls were and are very easy to overcome.

The Offense

Derek Thompson wasn’t his best again today. He made some very nice plays late, however. He is usually good for a couple of those per game, but in a game where we needed the offense to score touchdowns, they were kicking field goals. The run game wasn’t getting much traction today but this wasn’t UTEP so that was to be expected. The dirty little secret all year has been that the running game has been less-than-mediocre. The biggest games have been against the absolute worst teams defending the run. That made it harder for Derek and company to move the ball down the field. Still, it was the less-than-perfect accuracy on some of the throws that killed drives. When Eric Soza is hitting his guys on the hands, in stride, and Derek Thompson is throwing the ball high or slightly behind Darnell Smith, it is easy to get frustrated.

Derek made some very nice, very tough throws on the very last drive of the game. He was nimble, found space, and made two or three beauties to Darnell, Kidsy, and Darnell again. Kidsy dropped his, but it was still an excellent throw.

The offense only averaged 20 points a game last season. This year, the average is boosted by the defense and special teams helping the scoring. There is still a lot of room for improvement here. On games where the defense doesn’t absolutely dominate this is especially glaring

The Defense

We got a bit spoiled. The UNT Defense has not only been holding teams to practically zilch in this win streak, but also has been scoring themselves. This game, they faced an experienced, good QB who has played big games (and won) on the road before.

Things are a bit easier when you are playing a freshman in his first game ever.

That said, given that Skladany likes the bend-but-don’t break approach, the 450+ yards aren’t as terrible as they look. They only allowed 14 points going into the 4th quarter. That isn’t bad. The tackling wasn’t nearly as good as it has been. UTSA’s Seth Grubb beat Kenny Buyers on a quick catch and run and took it about 40 yards. Soza was able to get first downs because Marcus Trice went for blow-up hits and not squaring up. UTSA’s Okotcha was able to get a few extra yards after missed tackles down the middle. Worst of all was that some of those short wide receiver screens and throw backs went for 5,10, or 20 yards longer than they should have because of missed tackles by Will Wright and some others.

The thing is that the defense has played awesomely but is by no means Alabama out here.

Do I think they did enough to win today? Yes. They held UTSA from scoring 30 or 40. They got some stops late. They played hard.

Did they play well? No. They allowed 450+ yards and allowed 75% conversions on third down. 16 of 20. Ridiculous.

The Coaching

There were a ton of weird calls — the fake FG? The lack of urgency at the end of the third quarter? Completely abandoning the run game for a long stretch? We’ll talk more about this on the podcast.

The Opponent

UTSA did an amazing job of staying within themselves and playing hard. Larry Coker did a great job of preparing his charges and keeping them sharp. Eric Soza looked the part. He was tough, accurate, and decisive. He didn’t stretch the field but he didn’t have to. He hit his guys in stride and got rid of the ball before Bellazin and company could get a hand on him. When he did get sacked, he didn’t get rattled or let it ruin his game. He was the perfect answer to our tremendous defense.

Seth Grubb, Kam Jones, Marcellus Mack, and the other Runner wideouts did a great job avoiding or breaking tackles. That is a feat, considering the great job we do there. Kam Jones turned a Bellazin would be tackle for loss into a 15 yard gain by dancing around him. That was the story of the game, practically — in position to make a play but UTSA made one move better.

There is more to talk about. Let’s do it tomorrow on the podcast. Live at 10am or so from someplace in Lewisville.

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Football Football Recaps

Quick Recap: NT 28 LaTech 13 — 10.19.13

The game started slowly for North Texas. Derek Thompson threw an interception and LaTech went down and scored a touchdown. Very quickly UNT turned that thing around behind a stellar run game and stingy defense. Nort hTexas scored 28 straight points after going down 10-0 and then held on late to win for the second straight game, the first time since 2004 that has happened.

Unsurprisingly, it was the best players that made the biggest plays for NT. Brelan Chancellor broke free late in the second quarter, snatched a pass from a scrambling Derek Thompson deep down the middle and out ran everyone to the end zone for a 61-yard TD. The next possession, the defensive line broke through, pressured the throw, and Zac Whitfield grabbed a floater on the sideline and took it to the house for the lead.

Later, Derek found Darnell Smith on streak to set up a 2-yard run on an inverted veer. Zach Orr and company bottled up the LaTech offense and UNT scored again. The run game took over the rest of the way.

It was, in short, a very Dan McCarney win. Lots of defense and running, complimented by timely passing. A well-executed plan is always beautiful to watch. There is no reason to think this can’t continue into and through next week against a very terrible Southern Mississippi. The difference between this iteration of Mean Green and the previous losing ones is that this one doesn’t aim the gun at its own foot. Less shooting-of-selves. Even compared to the early losses against Ohio and Georgia, this is a better team and one more focused, and more aggressive.

North Texas was favored in each of the last three games, at Tulane, home against Middle Tennessee, and away to Louisiana Tech. They went 2-1, 1-1 on the road, and 1-0 at home. Next game is in Hattiesburg against the worst team in the nations. Although most of us have every confidence that this will be a (big) win, Southern Miss will beat someone, eventually. Being that team to break the losing stream would damn near eliminate all these good, warm, tingly feelings right now.

The next game is a big one against Rice, at home, on Halloween. Rice is presently 3-0 in the conference, which puts them atop the CUSA West division, tied with Tulane. With our loss to the Green Wave, we need them to lose twice, but we can get the tie-breaker over the Owls with a win in Denton. Yes, the conference title game is still a possibility if Tulane drops two games.

The two toughest games on the schedule are Rice and Tulsa, and Rice is at home. I expect UNT to be favored for Souther Miss, UTEP (homecoming) and UTSA. We just need two of those five to get to bowl eligibility.

Before the year I called a loss to LaTech and a win against the Green Wave on the way to a 9-3 record. In actuality those were swapped. I still see a 9-3 finish. Depending on what happens with Tulane (I think they will lose to Tulsa and Rice) we have a CUSA title game to play against (I’m prognosticating here) whoever wins the ECU-Marshall battle on November 29th.

Of course, two more wins means UNT is bowl eligible for the first time since 2004.

It is a great day to be mean and green, guys.

Things to Be Excited About

The Run game and the Defense. Hey! Nice to see the run game look formidable as it did all last season. All three running backs are performing at a high level. It is exactly as we envisaged preseason. The offensive line was opening up nice, big holes and when they weren’t Antoinne Jimmerson created some space. Their success created time and space for Derek Thompson to flourish. He was able to make good decisions and hold on to the ball late. When the lead was secure, and even though LaTech knew we were going to, we ran with success.

The defense continued the dominant streak. Last week we shut down Middle Tennessee’s pass game. This week it was LaTech’s run game. Sure, a lot of it has to do with the relative youth and quality of the opponents but we’ve faced younger and worse teams and yielded gobs of yardage and lots of points. Zac Whitfield picked off two, tackled well and didn’t get beat over the top. The entire secondary tackles well. Richard Abbe and the defensive line pressured the QB, forced bad throws, and bottled up Kenneth Dixon, La Tech’s most dangerous threat. It was a clinic. One that has been going for three weeks now (and a little more if you count the good plays in the Georgia game).

Things to Be Concerned About

Another slow start and methodical offense. The comebacks are dramatic, but it would be nice to see more MTSU and less games where we allow a lead and make our way back into it. Derek Thompson threw another interception to mar his good day. The offense, despite the big margin, has the defense to thank — again — for padding the scoreline. It is great because of the wins, but it is toeing a dangerous line. The slow starts have something to do with it and there are still too many possessions ending in punts or turnovers. If some of those would at least get into FG range? Well we’d see a good 3-4 point bump in scoring average.

Other Observations

The North! Texas! chant was loud and clear on the broadcast! That was all kinds of awesome.

Categories
Football Football Recaps

North Texas 7 Troy 14: Debacle!


Pre-snap Read once wrote this about Derek Thompson:

Another issue is his consistency: Thompson can get from zero to 60, which is nice, but can also revert back to zero within a week, if not within a quarter. There was only one solid two-week stretch of play, against Troy and Western Kentucky; the rest of Thompson’s season was defined either by extended periods of mediocrity – if not a touch worse – or by disappointing follow-ups to strong performances.

I didn’t agree much then but lord, do I second this notion now. It was a bad night for Derek Thompson. True to description-of-form he came out firing passes way to high for anyone on his way to a 12 of 28 236 yard performance. That put his season like this:

via cfbstats.com

If you didn’t look that is three games this season under 50% passing. In this era of football, Thompson is playing like a 70s era QB. That is to say, not good.

I don’t want to beat up on the guy. I’m just here to point out the facts. Troy was sitting on the short routes and begging the offense to pass behind them. We did just that a couple of times. When Derek had time and only had to loft a deep ball down the field he was pretty accurate. That is how Brelan Chancellor and Ivan Delgado got 100+ yards each. The reason we couldn’t score inside 35 yards? Well that was because the passing game couldn’t beat one-on-one coverage.

If it feels like a wasted opportunity that is because it is. I don’t however, subscribe to the thinking that the season is wasted. Bret Vito says this game was “essentially the season.” It is nothing of like the season. It is one game. It was a very winnable game in a very winnable conference. The team let a good opportunity get away.

A team has to have some kinds of designs on winning the conference championship every year. The team has to put itself in a position to succeed will be in a good position to capitalize on luck. This game was not a good capitalization on good fortune.

So now what? Well as the cliché goes: learn from it and get better and do better next week at FAU.

What can we learn? Well, the defense can play well. There was some good pressure on Corey Robinson after two and a half weeks of giving lots of time to the opposing passing game. The secondary held up well against that Troy offense despite some of the hand-wringing before the game. Zac Whitfield was beat on the 76-yard touchdown that but the Trojans ahead late but did a decent enough job througout. Again, he is a freshman and played running back before this year. He is going to get picked on and he will get beat from time to time.

This game was more the fault of the offense/special teams than the defense. That is something I didn’t think I would write this season.

Zach Olen. Sigh. The guy is a career 21/31 (67%) guy. Kicking is a lot harder that it looks but it is also a lot easier than it looked on Saturday. The kicking game is even more glaring of a problem because of the type of team Dan McCarney wants: hard running and defense. Usually those kinds of teams rely on controlling the ball and not explosive offense. It means they play field position and special teams. When you can’t convert from field goal range it throws the entire thing off. You saw the result last night.

I’m all for aggressiveness. The 4th downs we attempted were not calculated attack-minded playcalls, though. They were calls forced upon the team because we were scared Zach Olen or the other guy were going to put the ball wide left by 30 yards.

It was almost a panic move. I don’t know the right answer there. Dan McCarney obviously didn’t believe in the kicking game anymore. He had seen enough. Don’t you have to adjust the game plan there? I mean, the running game wasn’t doing much better in red zone. Derek Thompson couldn’t complete a pass that was not 15+ yards down the field.

Maybe you show confidence in the kind of team you want to be by putting the kicker out there again instead of just reacting to the two (terrible) field goal misses.

Two of three phases were not good. The other was okay. Well, probably more than okay. The defense gave the offense three chances in the fourth quarter to tie the game. If this were 2010, when Olen hit 13/15 FGs, we probably squeak out of this one with an ugly 16-14 game and we’d be talking about how gutsy of a win this was.

So it goes.

Next week is a game against a very terrible Florida Atlantic squad that barely escaped with a win against Wagner and lost to equally terrible Middle Tennessee State. They were destroyed by Alabama this week and by Georgia the week prior despite putting up a respectable 20 points.

The good news: They are terrible and Derek Thompson is awesome on the road.

The bad news: They are terrible and overall confidence is low. There are only so many times you can say “We don’t care about moral victories, we want to win.” That well is shallow, and there have been two trips to it already.

Tweet of the night: Dunno. I had terrible service and used what internet I could to tweet.

Play of the Night: Brelan (Brelan!) Chancellor’s 50-yarder in the first half.

 

 

Categories
Football

2012 Season Preview

As of this writing, we are less than a week away from the 2012 season. Last year was mostly about Apogee and new beginnings. This year, we will know more about the direction of the program that Dan McCarney is guiding in his second season. It is still a season of transition and silliness. Past decisions still affect the current edition. The schedule includes only five home games because of concessions made for Apogee’s inaugural year. The roster is a mix of unproven guys that don’t necessarily fit the program philosophy or, according to Coach Danny Mac, FBS quality. Everyone said Dan can coach and the program is lucky to have hired him. We have seen first hand that he at least knows how to make the team look like a real college football team and not the hilarity that was on the field for a few years under Dodge.

There is a lot to look forward to. Jamize Olawale is bringing attention to North Texas the way that we expected Lance Dunbar to do, and the move to CUSA brings some in-state rivals next season. Tony Mitchell and the run of sustained success the basketball team has had brings the school more attention and thus North Texas Football has another chance to shine. Failing that, it at least has a chance to look respectable.

Lord knows that for all the glory brought to us from the Super Pit, UNT won’t be taken seriously in the Metroplex unless the football team is winning. That is the unhappy truth we must live with.

“It makes us feel good,” UNT wide receiver Brelan Chancellor said. “[Coach McCarney] has faith in us, and we have faith in him. We are going to go out there and compete with a hard-edge mentality and try to win games. That’s what we need, for him to put the pressure on us. That will get us going.”

// DRC //

That Brelan quote is in response to Coach Mac being all inspiring and whatnot. That 5-7 season that felt so good? He says it is unacceptable. It is all a matter of perspective, you see. Being an also-ran in the ‘Belt with a just-under .500 record made a good number of die-hard fans feel like we won a gold medal. We didn’t, though. A good leader knows when to congratulate and when to motivate. Danny Mac is a good leader and is done congratulating. Now he is motivating.

So now we are going for wins. It seems obvious, aren’t we always trying to win? Not really. Sometimes teams try to win with conditions. Some teams try to win by doing it their way. They don’t like getting wins however they may come. What kind of team will the 2012 UNT Mean Green Eagles be? Well, let’s find out.

Offense

Former Interim Coach Mike Canales will continue his changing of the offense from a dink and dunk super finesse spread to a physical, running balanced spread. It isn’t so much about tight ends or getting under center as an attitude and philosophy. Mike Canales is willing to run the ball — and his head coach wants tough, big and strong lineman. Pair that with the good fortune that North Texas has in finding a quality running back and we might just have a quality rushing attack by accident. This isn’t the first time we went into a season without a no-doubt starter in the backfield. When Jamario Thomas graduated we went into the next season thinking the story was going to be about Cam Montgomery. Lance Dunbar stole the show. He is only the most productive back in UNT history.

RBsBrandin Byrd, Reggie Pegram (appeal denied), Antoinne Jimmerson, Jeremy Brown, Jamarcus Jarvis and Mark Lewis.

The good news is that we have everything we want in a running back in this group, albeit spread among the members. There is strength, experience, speed and quickness, and the competition should have ’em all really motivated. The by-committee approach may be ugly but PreSnap Read thinks it’ll be slightly more effective than the Dunbar-led attack last season. Think of it as a variation on the Ewing Theory. I figure we’ll get something along the lines of Brandin moving the chains and Jimmerson hitting home runs. So far in practice, AJ is shaking people up, yo.

WRs: BRELAN! (Brelan Chancellor), Chris Bynes, Ivan Delgado, Chaz Sampson, Derrick Teegarden, Lynrick Pleasant, Nick Shrapps, Carlos Harris, John Chelf (Iowa Transfer that will play), Darnell Smith (JUCO walk-on).

Darius Terrell lost his appeal for a waiver. He’ll have to sit out a year. Roderick Lancaster, (whose NCAA 13 version led my UNT squad in receiving as a freshman) hurt his knee and will be out for the season. This isn’t the most intimidating wide out corps but it has some potential. Brelan is a playmaker. We will be trying to get him the ball anyway we can, in every place we can. The defense knows this, too. The good news? We don’t need a standout guy. It would be really nice, but it isn’t necessary. It is very possible to have a productive offense with a good line, a solid running back and three sold receivers. By most accounts, we have all these. Chancellor, Bynes, and Delgado combined for 100 receptions 1204 yard and 10 scores. Given another year together it isn’t unrealistic to predict a 10% increase in production from those guys (and Derek Thompson). The unproven guys just need to combine for something like 99 catches 1000 yards and 4 scores to equal last years total. With Andrew Power, and Drew Miller looking good, just one of five Other Guys needs to be decent.

A good spread offense is one where the ball finds the open players. You shouldn’t have to force the ball to a guy to get yards. That is the thinking at least. I dare say this group can be solid. No scoring records will be set, yet I don’t foresee the terribleness that was the final year of the Dickey era.

It all rests on the shoulders of . . .

QBs: Derek Thompson (recent grad!), Brent Osborn, Andrew McNulty (likely redshirting).

We have seen what happens when an injury plague visits upon this position. It was a whole lot of scrambling and hoping for broken tackles on screen plays. Thompson had himself a solid fall practice. He went out and got himself a degree quicker than most of you did yours. He looks comfortable and has the confidence of his teammates (named team captain again). The offense primarily rests in his right arm. He will be responsible for getting the ball into the right hands at the right time.

This isn’t 1975 anymore. The reason there is a premium on quarterbacks and quarterback play is that the person in that position is making nearly all the important decisions and reads every play. I do believe we have a solid enough guy that can do good things for the offense. What more can a fan ask for?

Well, we can ask for a higher completion rate. In the first six games in which he threw more than ten passes he was completing 52% of his throws. In his last three games in which he threw more than ten passes he was tossing the ball around at 65%. We need more of the latter and less of the former. I fully expect we’ll get something like this in most games excluding the LSU matchup.

Brent Osborn and Andrew McNulty battled out for second throughout spring and fall. Who wins that battle is mostly a matter of preference. Osborn was the guy with the JUCO experience but McNulty played well in spots as a freshman. He is more of the future than Osborn is but that means a whole lot of nothing. Dan McCarney seems more interested in winning now than saving up talent for some undefined future. I like this.

They both can play and might get some reps if/when Derek Thompson goes down with an injury.

Offensive Line: LT Antonio Johnson, LG Mason Y’Barbo, C Aaron Fortenberry RG Cyril Lemon RT LaChris Anyiam RTColeman Feeley, BACKUPS of note: Cam Feldt, Travis Ellard, Injury of note: Boone Feldt was sent home from camp because of shoulder and neck injuries.

Hey! What do you know? This is a spot where we are deep and talented. This line managed to protect Thompson and open up some holes for Lance Dunbar. It is always dangerous to feel too good about a position group for fear of crossing the football gods, but it is hard to feel pessimistic about this group.

TE: Andrew Power, Daniel Prior (injured shoulder — done for year), Drew Miller, Cooper Jones, Marcus Smith, and Tanner Smith.

Not all spreads are alike. Mike Canales likes tight ends and H-Backs because of their versatility. They are useful in sussing out the intentions of linebackers when trying to run sweeps and options and obviously for catching passes. I think he prefers the former over the latter and that is why Jamize Olawale wasn’t getting much playing time. Perhaps he likes the hulking blocker type over the versatile H-back? Who knows?

We do know that Andy Power is a good blocker and will continue to have those duties. The others will get time in the double TE sets and when spelling Power. This is a solid group without any game-breakers.

Defense

It seemed for a while that when Dickey left he took any knowledge of this side of the ball away. Todd Dodge’s teams were historically bad on defense. For all the good that Rick Villareal as done, his greatest mistake wasn’t hiring Dodge — a rising star in the coaching ranks — it was letting him bring his high school staff.

Disaster it was. /Yoda voice.

So we now are assembling the makings of a solid defense. It may not look it given the 30+ PPG scoring defense and the dearth of defensive backs with experience on the roster. Dan McCarney brought in Clint Bowen last season. He molded the squad into something looking respectable. North Texas has improved statistically over the last couple of years. Last season, it seemed we could get to the quarterback. That is good news considering the secondary is comprised of new faces and unproven freshman and transfers. The thinking goes like this: getting to the quarterback will make take a lot of pressure off the new guys. That seems pretty sound, right? Worst case scenario is that the secondary is so porous that the front four don’t have enough time to get out of their stance before passes are flying over their heads.

I doubt this will be the case.

Everyone runs a version of the spread now, but Houston and Troy are the only two teams that spread to pass as a rule. Kansas St. and LSU are just more talented, the rest of the schedule is beatable. That means the defense will be stressed in two games, overwhelmed in two and in the spotlight in eight others.

DLine: DE Brandon McCoy, DE Daryl Mason, DT Ryan Boutwell (out first two weeks), DT Richard Abbe, DT Andrew Lincoln, DT Tevinn Cantly, DE KC Obi, DE Aaron Bellazin.

This is that defensive line that is expected to carry the load and create space for Zach Orr to make tackles, and relieve pressure on the secondary. As I mentioned, this unit made some strides last season, getting 26 sacks last season but the tackles didn’t really get into the backfield. With a another year of defensive line coaching from savant Dan McCarney, another year in the weight room, and just another year to mature, I figure we should see further improvement from this group. I mean, we’ll need it.

LBs: Zach Orr, Derek Akunne, Jeremy Phillips, Will Wright, Chad Polk, Kendall Washington, Jarrian Roberts.

The name that is conspicuously absent is Mike Stojkovic. He is out for the year with personal issues to take care of. Zach Orr is getting the press because he is expected to be the guy. He is the sole returning backer from last season’s group. He spent some time injured last season and that is the only worry surrounding this upcoming season. That injury opened up time for Derek Akunne and Will Wright. The latter is interesting because of his speed. He is a converted safety. Now, moving safeties up to play linebacker isn’t anything new or groundbreaking, but it is good to know that we’ll be a little speedy in our 4-3. (I won’t even get into the fact that most 4-3 sets are really just 4-2-5s. Will Wright will be that Rover guy.) Jeremy Phillips has played before and is back from injury. All in all this isn’t a bad group. New DC John Skladany coaches linebackers in addition to his main duties so I expect to see some solid play from this group.

DBs: Marcus Trice, Lairamie Lee, Hilbert Jackson, Devante Davis, Xavier Kelly, Freddie Warner (maybe — still hurt), Kenny Buyers, Mike Marshall, Kevin Maduka, and DQ Johnson.

This group has drawn the most spotlight because, well, they are unproven and young. Fall camp has shown us that Coach Mac likes Devante Davis and that Marcus Trice is a playmaker. Xavier Kelly is a three-star guy and DQ Johnson is a JUCO addition. Dan McCarney has been touting the competition as healthy and good for the team. I don’t disagree but I’d really like some stability back there. Sometimes a constant shuffle means you have no one that you trust. With fall practice being closed, it is difficult to suss out the differences and figure a true depth chart. Lists mean little, however. Come Sept 1st, we will see who is starting and who makes plays. Having such a young group portends good things for next year, if you want to look on the bright side. This year we will likely see some miscommunication and terrible defending. Don’t be too harsh. It is better to build with four-year guys than to bring in JUCO mercenaries for a season or two as a stop  gap. I like the plan. We just have to be patient.

P: Will Atterbury.

Solid

K: Zach Olen

Solid.

Schedule

  • SEPT. 1 at #1L.S.U. LOSS
  • SEPT. 8 Texas Southern WIN
  • SEPT. 15 at Kansas St LOSS
  • SEPT. 22 Troy WIN
  • SEPT. 29 at F.A.U. WIN
  • OCT. 6 at Houston LOSS
  • OCT. 16 La.-Lafayette WIN
  • OCT. 27 at MTSU. WIN
  • NOV. 3 Arkansas St. LOSS
  • NOV. 10 South Alabama WIN
  • NOV. 17 at La.-Monroe WIN
  • NOV. 24 at WKU. WIN

Last season, the guys surprised me by winning more than they seemingly should have. This is without Lance having a Lance-type year. Maybe it is normal pre-season hopefulness, or maybe I’m still riding the good vibes of that destruction of the Blue Raiders. I am feeling confident today.

Sunbelt teams are indistinguishable, for the most part. WKU and Ark St came out of nowhere last season thanks to some talent and a lot of good coaching. Outside of the secondary, UNT has just enough talent and solid-to-good coaching. Something the difference between a winning season and a losing one is belief. Coach Mac has Brelan believing and now he has me believing, too.

 

Go Mean Green.

 

 

//Hat tip to Denton RC, Football Study Hall, Pre-Snap Read, GoMeanGreen.com for their UNT coverage that heavily influenced this thing.

Categories
MGN Podcast

Ep 2: Is for Co-Host

Click here for the podcast feed. That should get you everything you need. You can play the episode from there or subscribe via your favorite podcast catcher.

This episode of the Mean Green Nation welcomes co-host Tony (@bstnsportsfan3). In this week’s episode we talk CUSA move, travel distances, potential roster moves (John Odoh v Keith Coleman, PJ Harwick, etc), coaching moves.

you can contact the podcast at podcast@meangreennation.com !

I’ll have available in the iTunes store soon so be on the lookout.The Mean Green Nation Podcast will be up every Thursday!

Click the following for a smartphone friendly link:

MGN2 download link

Categories
Basketball

Tony Benford Is The New Coach

Today we hired a new coach for the basketball team. Where you stand on Tony Benford depends on what you think this team needs.

Do we need the guy that recruited Tony Mitchell, Chris Jones, and Jordan Williams?

Then we needed Shawn Forrest.

Do we need a successful, name guy that knows Tony Mitchell and has been to his AAU games and stuff?

Then we needed Fran Fraschilla LINK LINK LINK

Do we need the best (according to many) assistant coach in the country? Well then we needed Tony Benford.

He was a finalist at SMU until Larry Brown wowed them with pictures of the stuff he did back when he was a good and capable coach. Smoo’s loss is our gain. The guy is a good coach. He isn’t a big splash but we can’t afford a big splash. Despite all our success, we haven’t had much financial success (because we didn’t go deep into the tournament). We can afford competitive pay for good up-and-comers but not for established name guys. Fran Fraschilla, according to a source, was in line to be The Guy until money became an issue.

Again, that is according to a source.

I can believe it. Fran was the front-runner, even getting write-ups by ESPNDallas.

Here is the timeline as I understand it:

Friday: RV wraps up his search, having decided on Fran Fraschilla.

Saturday: Tony Benford steps in and wows everyone with an amazing interview. RV is second guessing himself but is still pretty sure he has his guy.

Sunday-Monday: Details begin to be worked out with Fraschill until talks break down. RV decides he can go with Tony Benford, have a good coach, and save lots of cash.

Tuesday: We have our guy.

Where do I land on this? I am undecided. I think we had three solid candidates. Shawn Forrest probably deserved a shot at the job. He likely was undermined by the terrible season Shanice Stephens, and Todd Dodge had. Worst case scenario: this is like the time Jerry Jones passed on Randy Moss because he was scared of getting burned.

I don’t know much about Fran’s coaching resume besides the bullet points. He was a decent coach and is an analyst with ESPN. He lives in Dallas, and had seen all our guys play multiple times, even attending a game last year. He tweeted frequently about the job and is bullish on our chances for an NCAA appearance. He was the next best thing to having Shawn Forrest. Worst Case scenario: We missed out on a guy with head coaching experience and ESPN contacts. Now we’ll be under-hyped.

Tony Benford is apparently a very popular assistant on the rise. He gives a great interview and nearly got the SMU job as I mentioned. Everyone likes him but he is unproven. He recruits the DFW area well but you could say the same for Forrest. Worst Case Scenario: Tony declares, CJ and JW transfer. Second WCS: The guys stay but are unhappy and we lose lose lose.

The oddest thing here is that we hired an assistant from another school instead of a guy that sat on our bench for years, and who was endorsed by Johnny Jones himself (to be fair, so was Fran). If Benford can win over the roster, and recruit more awesome talent? Well then we hired the right guy.

The good news is that he just needs to maintain the status quo and recruit talent to our already talented squad. This is hard but not as hard as recruiting to a barren wasteland.

Maybe because it is spring and I am sitting on my patio with no shirt on, drinking a beer and enjoying the beautiful weather that I am so optimistic. I am happy with this hire.
Mostly because we still have Tony Mitchell.

Go Mean Green.