July Summer Update

Again, the dog days of summer and all that good cliché stuff. Good news: NCAA 11 is out today. I played it a little. Like it. Will do it again.

In other news: Rivals saw fit to add wittle ole UNT to its list of Texas schools. Here is Troy Phillips breaking it all down. 

Welcome to, the new home for University of North Texas athletics on the network. UNT, the last FBS/NCAA Division I program in Texas not on Rivals, at last will be represented.

Why now and why Rivals? Let’s tackle that two-part question. Specifically at UNT, traditional media coverage has narrowed the past few years. I should know after covering the athletic department for three years for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Upon leaving there in March of 2009 after 17 years, I wasn’t replaced on the UNT beat and haven’t been since. Traditional media continues to shift heavily toward or be torn asunder by online platforms, so it’s get on or be left by the roadside.

So, there you go. Something about a roadside. I’m down with it. Like he mentions, Rivals has money, is serious and so can actually give us some good coverage. Good times. The Mean Green Report will be lovingly placed on the blogroll to the right of the screen.

You can head there now to read up on what Papa Dodge has to say about stuff. I’ll tell you know that you aren’t going to read anything groundbreaking there. Pretty standard “We’ve been working hard and we are excited about the up-coming season” type stuff. There may be a gem in there that I didn’t catch. I’ll admit that I just skimmed it.

So welcome Mean Green Report. And welcome Village forum and Tower forum.

I kind of have an unofficial policy about not paying for sites. I wonder if having this thing means that I’ll have to be a rivals member now. Crap. [muttering] I bet I can write it off … —- Note* the url doesn’t redirect to, oddly enough. Type in to see what I mean. Click that link though, and I’ve done it for you. 




NT Football 2010 Spring: New Offense? I Don’t Want to Be a Downer ….

… but I don’t know how much Canales will boost our production.

 A couple of quick warnings before you read this : I am not taking into account potential gains we get from growth by Kid Dodge or just general offensive growth under the system in place. I also don’t know if delegating will allow us to concentrate on little things like protecting the ball etc. I mostly based my horrible assessment on the fact that I couldn’t remember USF being anything special on offense. I knew they had a good defense and were ranked as high as no. 2 back during that crazy upset-heavy season. I also don’t know if Canales was stifled or something and has a genius offensive mind that was bound and gagged by the crazy-ass at USF.

1. He hasn’t had amazing success. And by amazing success I mean like his teams move the ball somewhat but they aren’t anything special. In fact, the dude got fired in Arizona because the offense was inept:

In an attempt to address the Wildcats’ problems on offense, Stoops initiated a modest off-season shakeup, replacing coordinator Mike Canales with Sonny Dykes, one of the architects of Texas Tech’s high-octane passing attack the last two seasons.

Crap. Now, again, giving the dude the benefit of the doubt, he could have been a scapegoat. This guy doesn’t think so, and he went to NT so he has loads of cred.* He had three mediocre years at Arizona before taking over USF and continuing the streak. Ugh. This does not portend good things.

*Not verified. 

2.  We weren’t that awful on offense. Especially when you compare us to USF. Wait a sec. I know I am kind of using circular logic or whatever it’s called. Hear me out: We are not that horrible on offense. We struggle in short yardage and have trouble being consistent. Those are the flaws of a young team. Execution is one of those oft-quoted little things that make a team a winning team.  Consistency is also.

Think about it.

On every play there is somewhere to go with the ball. Sometimes that place is out of bounds. Sometimes that is for a quick three yard scramble, or a quick dump off to the RB. Watch a veteran QB. Other than Favre types, they pretty much know where to go with the ball at all times. Making the smart plays means less frustrating situations. Less third-and-longs. Less turnovers-because-the-QB-was-holding-the-ball-too-long, and so on. They call those dudes Game Managers (horrible name, I know.) They don’t mess things up. Maybe they don’t win games, but they also don’t lose them. A lot of times you can only get to that level by experience.

So, you know how Lance Dunbar was tearing it up? Remember how JJ and Carey were taking those quick -3 yard passes and racing up the sideline?

You do? Okay.

Those are our chain movers, unfortunately. Lance got a ton of his yardage on three or four big runs, in most games. The most frequent whine after games was why didn’t we give it to LD more? I am sure PapaDodge has insufficient answers to these questions.  Here is my answer: The defense did not respect the deep ball. Probably for a lot of reasons. The obvious one is that Kid Dodge didn’t make ’em. Maybe he doesn’t have the arm strength. Maybe he doesn’t have the time to look deep. Maybe he doesn’t have the full playbook available to him. Maybe he doesn’t have the awareness to know he actually can look through all his progressions. I don’t know.

So how does that equal big screens and big draws? Well, when they are packing it near the line of scrimmage, all it takes is a good block/missed tackle and then– if you have speed like LD– you are off.

That wasn’t the only thing though. I mean, the other team knew that they could get beat on those things. Still, they weren’t scheming elaborately for us. Lots of times they were in their base coverages/run defenses. You know, the ones we practice on.

Anyway, my point is that we were pretty decent for a young squad. We made plays. Now, combine that with some more experience in the same (now similar) offense, and you have improvement.

This is of course, assuming that PapaDodge is a decent coach.

Which brings me back to Mike C. Where does he come in? Well, I am wondering how much impact he really is going to make. Like I’ve said before, no matter who Dodge brings in, and what responsibilities he gives him, this offense will always be a Dodge baby. It is what he hangs his hat on. Methinks this was a please-the-boss type move. A move that could mess it all up.

Here is what I hope doesn’t happen: Mike C, gets all “gotta prove myself”-y and decides to put his signature on the offense. When things don’t go that awesomely (just going off his past production here folks) Dodge who is feeling “gotta save my job”-y decides to make some ‘helpful suggestions.’

The sort-of-power-struggle creates a crappy situation for the offense, and then we stink it up. Again.

3. He signed on to be our coordinator. For cheap. I know that we aren’t hot shit. I also know that Ohio has Frank Solich. That June Jones once was banished to Hawaii. That big time coaches sometimes find themselves at small time schools. I know. It seems like this guy is going backwards, though. That concerns me. I could see if he was coming in to be our head coach. It just don’t pass the smell test for me, guys. An automatic bid conference to the worst FBS Conference? Really? For small money? Hurm.

I am sure he has his reasons. Maybe he took the first job available after Leavitt went crazy. Who knows. I’d still rather have an up-an-comer though. Kind of like this dude. But, RV probably wanted experience to soothe the fans and maybe to cool his own warming seat.

Of course, I hope that we score 40 a game while putting up 500 yards of total offense a half.



JJ Safe … For Now, Fans Rejoice

Via some website. 

Auburn signed some other guy. The Nation rejoices.

As some rightly pointed out, I figure that we have JJ for one more year. Although the iron is arguably the hottest now, leaving UNT would leave the university in a precarious position recruiting-wise. All of which I would rather not think about.

Thank goodness the crisis is averted (for now).

Basketball Basketball Recaps

Watching the Tourney- North Texas Loses 62-82

I’ll be cracking lame jokes on Twitter

Check back for updates on the biggest game in UNT history!

Their defense was beastly. We couldn’t get a shot off that wasn’t by Tristan Thompson or Odufuwa. We needed a guy that could cash some threes to open it up (like Clemente’s speed and shooting did) and get some points.

So that is that.

Still, it was an amazing season. If that 2007 tourney trip got us the talent we have now, I hope this year’s run and record setting number of wins does the same.



Kansas State is the first victim of the Mean Green March

… or so we hope.

Number 2 versus number 15. Remember when I said that all you had to do was believe? Feels awesome don’t it? Keep believing buddy!

The Matchup:

So our opponent is revealed: Kansas State. I won’t bore you with an extensive breakdown. There is a huge disparity in talent, of course. But there is also a huge disparity in expectations, money, support, history, coverage …

What does all that matter? Not a damn thing.

We can beat these guys. It may take heroic efforts from the squad. It may take a perfect, ‘Nova-type game to get a dubya but dammit, it’s possible.

I am excited for this run. I cannot wait for Thursday. It is our time. We’ll get the hard matchup out of the way first and then move on to the lesser seeds.



Innovative Defense

I’ll admit right now that I don’t know how to coach a defense. My only experience was as a high school defensive back — for a very short period of time. So with that said, I probably learned more about schemes and the such from our mutual friend the Internet than anywhere else (but that isn’t that odd is it?)

Now then, let’s get to the topic of the day:

Let’s. Get. Innovative.  /Darkwing Duck Theme Voice

I talked at length yesterday about offensive schemes etc. Again, I don’t really think that a scheme makes a team. Or an offense. Or a defense. There is a balance between talent and philosophy that must be achieved. The best coaches know how to use the talent they have and put them in the best positions to maximize said talent, limited as it may be.

So what is the big deal about running our 4-3 defense?

Nothing. It is fine. Plenty of teams have used it and had lots of success. USC runs a 4-3 Under. So does Florida. Pretty much says it all huh?

So why is it not good enough for wil’ ol’ UNT?

Well, its not that it isn’t good enough but that it isn’t interesting enough. It is not different enough.

I’ll have to revisit yesterday’s topic real fast-like. Although schemes don’t make all the difference, they are important. It’s is why teams disguise coverages or play fake, pump fake, run double moves, or run counter-treys. It is easier to do than trying to run over the guy in front of you for sixty plays. The battle of brains is one of the reasons I love football. The battle to outwit the other guy is a fascinating one to watch.

This is why smaller schools are typically the testing ground for new ideas. Urban Meyer developed his version of the spread option while an assistant (after learning it from, among others, Rich Rodgriguez) and tested it at Bowling Green, where he took his Falcons to unprecedented success. That led him to Utah and an undefeated season and well, eventually to failure.

Pictured: Failure

At Nowhere U (enrollment 5000) you can’t just try to out-muscle the other guy. That is why balance is imperative. If you focus too much on talent you get outschemed (see: Northwestern versus Michigan) if you lean too much toward scheme you get out-talented (see: Notre Dame-Charlie Weis era)*

*Tenuous. Just wanted to make a Weis joke, mostly.

It’s much harder to innovate on defense where speed size and strength are more important than on offense. The offense has the advantage and the defense has to be able to cover ground quickly to make up for the time delay. Great coaching shortens the time gap. Nicky Saban emphasizes pattern reading (nothing new– lots of coaches do it) and playing the ball. The finished product is a defense that smothers and is seemingly in the other teams huddle. But none of that matters if the offensive line is blowing their counterparts off the ball and the back doesn’t get touched for the first ten yards. Again: balance.

This is why I want to see a little 4-2-5 by us. Maybe some 3-5-3. Of course that would require that we went out and got someone who knows the ins-and-outs of that kind of D. That is beside the point however. If we are going to go down, I want to go down swinging. I really don’t care. I’d love to be Blitz U. That’d be the greatest part of all this. In this business you have to have an angle. What is ours right now defensively? ‘Come be apart of the team that doesn’t put pressure on the QB!’

I figure that we’d give up a huge number of big plays if we gambled and brought five or six guys every down. I don’t have anything against sound, solid defense. I expect that from the Cowboys who can seek out the most talented and pay them the requisite fee for doing so. I don’t think we have the resources or the clout or the time to develop 2-star guys into defensive stalwarts consistently enough to have sustained success, however.

Again: it is not impossible to have a Sunbelt school with a stout defense. I just don’t think it happens often enough here. We just can’t get the talent to have it for a long period of time.

So let’s be innovative on defense. I matters not if we implement a certain defensive scheme just that we try to be different. Let’s do on defense what the spread did for offense ya know?

Next: I figure I’ll have to think of something to talk about. Probably more rehashing. Woo!


UNT on the lookout for a new OC

I learned of this via the DRC. You can read the Austin-American Statesman's account here. This pretty much means that nothing is changing very much. Well, that is if you believe that Todd Dodge is the true offensive coordinator. Whether or not PapaDodge is doing the play calling on gameday or not is really kind of irrelevant. This is Todd Dodge's offense. Todd Ford ran Todd Dodge's offense. If Ford has a similar one –which is very likely after being part of it for the last six years or so– it is because PapaDodge taught him.

So, although Dodge wants to 'look outside', we are not going to see a radical difference in offensive philosophy unless the guy that comes in here has a crapload of credibility like Paul Johnson. Notice he is looking for 'spread guys' from 'program[s] like us?'

I really don't like to get hung up on schemes although I've always liked the AirRaid because it was different, interesting and I think when its run well it is probably the most exciting offense in football. I've argued somewhat ineloquently–as I am wont to do– that being different would be an advantage for UNT. In the last five years the spread offense is not very different at all. In fact, it has become very mainstream. Texas Tech had the first mover advantage and I would argue that that is what made them competitive, if only once every few years. We probably cannot duplicate that kind of success just by putting four and five wideouts on the field every down and think we are going to get favorable matchups all game. If you want to read what is probably one of the best pieces on Tech and Leach's role there, read this. My favorite part:

More after the jump >>