Categories
Football

QOTD: Who Wins Backup QB Battle?

Discuss

We all know that the starter will be Alec Morris. We don’t know who the backup will be. Or do we? While I was talking about Turner Smiley, Greg asked the above question.

It is a good question. The best question. What do you think?

Categories
Football Football Recaps

DaMarcus Time: WKU 55 UNT 28

Let’s be real, you really didn’t think North Texas was going to bounce back from that 66-7 loss and pull off an upset against the conference’s best team. I wanted to believe. I wanted to be dead wrong.  I wanted to feel like Greg did, but WKU has looked too efficient this month and our defense too porous to feel differently. I predicted 55-21 and it ended 55-28.

So yeah. I guessed right.

The real question of the night was “How Will This Team Look?”

They most obviously quit on Dan McCarney last week. There is no reason North Texas should have been beaten 66-7 by anyone in CUSA on down to FCS. 2015 North Texas wasn’t expected to rack up very many wins but they weren’t expected to be the nation’s worst team, either.

Offense

The great news is that tonight the offense looked full of promise with DaMarcus Smith at the helm, but promise does not equal production. Smith can rocket the ball down the field but struggles with short throws. This, if anything, was where McNulty looked better this season and probably the reason McCarney was choosing him in practice. Having watched DaMarcus tonight — despite his mistakes — I can declare him as obviously the best QB we have on this team.

Unfortunately, this offense still looks like one tailored for McNulty, because only a few plays seem to fit Smith’s skill set. Those plays would be the reads, the QB draws, and the ones where he was able to unleash the cannon that is his right arm.

Given the questionable short-range accuracy 1, this offense really should be built around Wilson dives, Smith keepers, and play action passes deep. Canales mentioned on the broadcast that Smith was a bit too excited. That accounts for the wild throws, and hopefully with nine days of preparation as the starter, he’ll be more comfortable and settled and maybe can run this offense that likes short, accurate passes. Next up is Marshall, and after that a showdown with rival UTSA. One of these is a very winnable game if we have our QB playing well.

Whoever the next coach will be will have at least a seed of ability to build an offense around. This team can run really well and hit deep passes as a change up. His main problem will be the defense.

But before we go there, lets acknowledge that the offense benefited late from WKU substitutions, and the low pressure of a blowout. North Texas was offense-ing below WKU’s averaged allowed. At one point NT was at about 5.5 yards per play and the Toppers allow about 5.9. We ended at 5.8. They allow an average of 439 a game and we ended with 431. WKU averages a 20 point lead at half and we were down . . . 20 at half. So we can maybe take solace that we are an average WKU opponent. That’s good in that we look like every other team they’ve destroyed and not a historically bad team that could only manage 2.75 yards per play against Portland State.

Jeff Brohm’s charges are the offensive class of the conference. They can run and throw with equal explosiveness and efficiency. Contrasted with our unit, we look very poor. Whereas Wilson and Smith can occasionally break open a 10+ yard run and we can toss an occasional 50-yard strike, we mix in far to many drops and fumbles. This is from seniors and juniors, to boot. Mix in the terrible snaps that killed the opening drive of the second-half (and the later ones that nearly killed the final drive) and you can see why this offense has been historically bad up to this point.

Thankfully, we had a playmaker with the ball in his hands. DaMarcus is explosive, and has a cannon arm. He makes plays. Period.

Were the defense the 2013 version — or at least 75% of it — and the run game able to control the game, then I could totally see why you would want to have a mistake-free, low risk quarterback as starter. Smith is feast or famine at this point and especially against a WKU team that is so complete, every mistake hurts double. That said, we need the occasional feasts he provides.

Give him the week-plus before the next one and he has the potential to be a game-winner, and not just a game-changer. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt since he was the most exciting player on the field. Next week we should be a slight bit more critical. Tonight he gets a pass.

After all, the offense put up 28 points — a season high — and second highest yards-per-play average of the season (6.2, after 7.71 against Rice).

Defense

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

This defense allowed 683 yards on 82 plays — an 8.2 yards per play average. We came in allowing 547 on 369 plays — 7.42 per play. This was the second straight 670+ yard allowed game, the third straight 8.0+ yards per play allowed game. It was the fifth game in six that we allowed over 200 yards rushing. (Rice only tallied 189.) It was the fourth in six that we allowed over 300 yards passing. It was the third game in five that we allowed 49+.

Tackling looks horrendous, and the defensive line is getting blown off the ball so much that the linebackers are unable to make a play anywhere near the backfield. The secondary is allowing chunks of yardage and can’t step up and make tackles like previous teams did. Oh, and they are getting beat deep.

Is the entire blame on the players? Like, is it all their fault? No. It is hard to say exactly how much is just talent differential and how much is inexperience. We knew that it was going to be another difficult year defensively considering the Chris Cosh coaching change, and the injuries to quality players. The secondary is going as deep as it can right now, and has played some quality quarterbacks.

The bad news is that CUSA has good quarterbacks all the way through.

Defensive Coordinator Chris Cosh doesn’t have the greatest reputation among fans of our team, or fans of his previous teams when you look around. Even though the players seem to like him, he has presided over the worst defenses since the Dodge Era. Some individuals have played well, but there hasn’t been one complete game.

Even the one game where they played solidly for three quarters — against SMU — has an asterisk considering the Ponies are winless against everyone else but us. We patted ourselves on the back and excused away the fourth quarter melt-down by saying it was because they were gassed. I don’t know how much of that is true.

Canales apparently asked the defensive coaches why we couldn’t blitz more considering we have ‘nothing to lose’. Blitzing wasn’t going to stop this WKU squad 2. Still, we all kind of hoped that we’d be able to slow them a bit. A few times we forced a stop, but mannnnnn they turned it up a few times and made everything look hopeless.

How much of that was WKU being awesome and how much was our defense being porous? Can you tell absolutely? I can’t.

It’s easy to complain every time a team drives easily down the field, but we have to remember that our secondary is very young. Our best tackling cornerback was lost for the year, the other starting corner was suspended, and we have a converted linebacker playing CB. This was to be expected, if you remember the the value a secondary with experience plays in defensive strength.

I want to believe the defense was finding it hard to play for an offense that couldn’t hold possession, or move the ball let alone score. It was hard to tell tonight, considering how good WKU is. Next game we’ll see them against a Marshall offense that isn’t nearly as good as they were last season. Compared to the Hilltopper’s blistering 7+ yards per pay, the Herd are only mustering a paltry 4.95. They aren’t explosive, nor efficient. Here’s hoping for something a bit better.


  1. He completed about 60% of his passes at Butler 
  2. Also, considering my TL, it is hard to know exactly how much weight Canales’ press conference talk had with his players. Lots of tweets, y’all. 
Categories
MGN Podcast

43: Non Cons

Adam and Greg get together to discuss QBs, camp, play Buy & Sell, and discuss the non-conference opponents.

MGN Podcast is the Official Podcast of the Unofficial UNT sports blog Mean Green Nation!

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.

We are also in the iTunes store.

You can contact the podcast at podcast@meangreennation.com.

Important Links:

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Categories
Football

The Sensational Dajon Williams No Longer With Team

No longer part of the program” is how HC Danny Mac put it. It’s something we half-expected after the way he was benched to start last season, despite being the most talented quarterback on a team that was desperate for anyone to be decent. Instead of being dismissed to the coach’s dog house permanently,  Dajon Williams benefited from completely awful quarterback play from Josh Greer and Andy McNulty and used his chance to show out against inferior competition, displaying arm strength and play-making ability that was sorely lacked against Texas and Louisiana Tech. He then was yanked after a turnover-filled couple of weeks against Indiana and UAB.

The behind-the-scenes stories hint at a guy that was regarded as the most talented quarterback but the least-hard working. He had off-the-field issues — like having a kid to take care of — but his talent afforded him enough slack to earn a second chance after blowing a golden one his freshman year, before which he was hailed by Dan McCarney as a truly special talent. During the brief run of Dajon-mania last season, he was said to have turned it all around spending time working on his quarterback craft and making progress.

It wasn’t enough, apparently. No one knows exactly what Dajon did or did not do in the interim, but it wasn’t or was enough to earn him the boot — or enough to make him want to quit. The exact reason for leaving is unclear but it isn’t a surprise.

 

We’ll always have that week vs Nicholls, when everything seemed to be looking up.

 

Good luck DW.

Categories
Football

2015 Mean Green Nation QB Tracker (20150819 Update)

Introducing our very own QB Tracker. North Texas has so many options at QB to keep track of so why not put them all on a tracker. We will be updating the tracker as updates roll in, spring practice continues, and all the way through fall camp until a starter is named. Right now house money is on Andrew McNulty who ended the season as a starter. It’s still to early to call the race though. McNulty has plenty of competition and the other guys have more talent than him. It will be fun to watch this competition unfold.

Mean Green QB Tracker 3

 

20150819 Update:

  • We’ve come a long way since the beginning of spring ball. NT lost the freshman sensation Dajon Williams over the summer. Dajon just never fit the program. It came as a shock and disappointment for a lot of fans, because Dajon had a really good spring.
  • Josh Greer has been solid in practice. He was solid last year in practice. His problems come when the game starts. Also he doesn’t fit the new style of offense North Texas will be running.
  • Connor Means has been very inconsistent. He still has plenty of time to grow as RS FR, but he didn’t make the jump a lot of Mean Green fans were hoping for.
  • Chumley is a raw athlete playing QB. I know everyone is quick to move him to TE, but I’m willing to give him time to develop. I think he could still be a QB in the new offense. He is more athletic and a better runner than Means. He could develop into a true dual threat QB.
  • The new fan favorite DaMarcus Smith missed spring ball and hasn’t quite grasped the offense yet during fall practices. He is still splitting time with Means as the number 3 QB. Time is dwindling for him to grab the starting QB role. Most insiders dont believe he can make up the ground. There was a report out there that DaMarcus couldn’t read a defense or throw into tight windows. That is false. It may have been true at Western Kentucky, but Smith has grown as a player. Here are the facts:
    • Smith has the best arm on the team and its not even close
    • Smith is the most athletic QB on the team
    • Smith is the best QB on the roster when it comes to making plays outside the pocket
    • Smith’s Completion Percentage last year in the JUCO ranks would’ve landed him in the top 5 amongst CUSA QB’s
  • Smith is beginning to sound like Dajon. He is the most talented QB on this team, but he hasn’t earned the respect of his teammates or coaches yet. If Smith can learn the offense
  • Everyone loves to hate on Andrew McNulty, but the SR has done nothing this fall to deserve that. He has been extremely efficient and effective in practices. He has a firm grasp of the offense and understands what the coaches want. He has been the most consistent QB this fall camp. He hasn’t been flashy either. Barring a collapse or injury McNulty is going to be the starter vs. SMU. I also believe he will have a longer leash than most people believe. This coaching staff doesn’t want a repeat of last year. They want to role with 1 QB for the entire season. They believe McNulty has earned the right to be the starter.

20150427 Update:

Closing the door on spring practices.

  • McNulty is in the driver seat going into the fall. McNulty raised his level of play and nobody really ever challenged him in spring ball.
  • DeMarcus Smith is really the only competitor who has a chance of unseating McNulty. A lot of MGN fans are putting a lot of prayers into helping D. Smith win the battle in the fall.
  • Josh Greer must be a helluva practice QB, because he continues to show why he cant be a starter in game situations.
  • Connor Means has a certain aura about him that draws Mean Green Nation fans to believe he can be special. Still it has to be a little unsettling that he couldnt close the gap on McNulty.
  • MGN’s favorite QB had a really good spring game. Dajon continues to show improvement. He should be listed as the backup once fall camp starts. He’s proved it on the field.
  • Nate Grimm and Sam Wells moved positions knocking the list down 8.

20150401 Update:

6 practices in and this QB race is starting to heat up.

  • McNulty has increased his lead on the pack. He hasn’t been great in practice, but he has been steady.
  • MGN’s favorite QB Dajon Williams has improved quite a bit over the winter. Again shows the most talent. The difference with Dajon seems to be a better work ethic.
  • Dark horse Quinn Shanbour has settled into a player coach role.
  • Josh Greer has made a few strides, but still looks skittish.
  • Connor Means has his moments, but he still needs to continue to refine his skills on pocket awareness. Probably the guy Coaches want to see the most improvement out of.
  • Caleb Chumley has been extremely raw. Redshirt year coming and probably a position change. Also has me wondering if we can bring in Tim Tebow’s throwing coach to help him on his mechanics.

Related:

[Off Season QB Primer]
[Deciphering The QB Situation]
[DaMarcus Smith not in Spring Practice]

Categories
Football

QB Update: DaMarcus Smith Will Not Be In Spring Practice

The great offseason question is around the Quarterback situation. We had terrible quarterback play this last year and it is no great secret. McCarney and his coaches brought in a few guys they think can help improve the position. DaMarcus Smith is a guy everyone thinks can beat out the incumbents. The problem is that he will not be participating in Spring Practice because … of reasons? It is a blow for him and maybe a chance for some of these other guys to get a step up. MGN favorite Dajon Williams was famously buried on the depth chart for having to skip practice.

Vito:

A school spokesman confirmed on Friday afternoon that those plans have changed. Smith will still have a chance to compete for the starting job in the fall, but will miss what would have been valuable practice time in the spring. He is enrolled in classes at UNT.

More MGN on the QB Situation:

Categories
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 
Categories
Football

Handicapping the 2015 QB Race

It is way to early to know with any certainty who will be the starting quarterback for next year. This year is a good example of the fact that the starter on opening day isn’t necessarily the guy who will take the most snaps. Josh Greer started the first three games and was never heard from again. Dajon Williams showed flashes of brilliance but succumbed to turnovers and got in Danny Mac’s doghouse. Andrew McNulty was a bus driver, only twice throwing for over 200 yards in his six starts. He played his best in the final game of the regular season and that will go a long way to securing his spot as the front-runner next season.

Here are the candidates with the cases for and against in order from most to least likely.

1. Andrew McNulty

Case For: He drives the bus, knows the playbook, and is the most experienced. That apparently goes a long way with the head coach and that is what matters. The run game should be typically good1 so he won’t need to throw 43 passes as he did against UTSA. With an entire offseason of grooming, he should be a HC’s dream: a senior QB who won’t turn the ball over.

Case Against: He barely got up to six touchdowns after six games. Dajon Williams, for all his faults, threw seven in three games. McNulty has the least powerful arm, often floating passes to his receivers. He isn’t completely immune to turning the ball over (seven INTs), but he started despite those. That means that he is doing enough hard work in practice to earn the benefit of the doubt. That’s something the others didn’t earn.

2. Connor Means

Case For: He is the backup quarterback. He is the RS Freshman with talent. You might remember that Dajon was the beneficiary of the backup hype at the start of this year. No other quarterback has as much raw talent. After a year in the program he should know enough to lead the vanilla offense. He has the talent to make the plays that all starting QBs need to make occasionally.

Case Against: He is untested against FBS competition. Josh Greer looked the part in practice on his way to earning the job to begin against Texas. He wilted in the spotlight. There is no telling what kind of player he’ll be until he steps on the field.

3. Josh Greer

Case For: He has another year to shake off the bad start. He won the job over Andrew McNulty and Dajon Williams before, and there is no reason to think he couldn’t again. He has the talent and poise that earned him the attention of Mike Canales and the coaching staff. He only threw 50 passes on the season against some of the best competition we faced. Andrew McNulty looked just as awful as Greer did in the game in Austin. It is only fair to give Greer a second look at the job.

Case Against: He looked completely lost against Texas, SMU and Louisiana Tech. Were it not for the one touchdown drive he led, he wouldn’t really have any solid statistics to stand on. He only managed 82 yards against SMU’s porous defense. He had the worst completion percentage and yards-per-attempt of any of the quarterbacks. That is to say he was inefficient and not explosive as a starter.

4. Unnamed 2015 JUCO Recruit

Case For: Cody Sokol stepped in to LaTech’s QB position and led them to a bowl game. With the worst passing season in six years under our belt, anyone who has promise throwing the football should be given the chance to make some noise here.

Case Against: This is basically what we thought Josh Greer would do. Greer was a solid performer in the JUCO ranks and bombed as a starter. High Risk and needs to earn the trust of teammates over guys who have been through things with the team before.

5. Dajon Williams

Case For: He has the talent. He can fling the ball with ease, he is dynamic in the pocket, and he has speed to make plays outside of it. Enough players on the team want him to start to make the case that the has earned their trust. That’s big. In his short, turnover-filled time he threw for seven touchdowns. That’s good for the best on the team in the least number of starts. He also had the most turnovers – both fumbles and interceptions. Still, he had the best QB rating (145.57), the best yard-per-attempt (7.9) and the best completion percentage (59.7) of all the quarterbacks.

Case Against: A bulk of his stats came against the absolute worst team we’ve faced in years. That’d be Nicholls. It’s hard to imagine that McNulty or Greer would have put up bad numbers against that team but Greer did struggle against SMU, so who knows? After his awful first half against UAB he was benched for the year. A large part of his struggles stem from his poor offseason that drew the ire of the coaching staff. He ended the year with yet another game suspension for “nonsense”. Given his struggles to stay out of the doghouse it is doubtful he’ll remain with the team for the next year. It would take an offseason of dedication to win over Danny Mac. If that is the case, the has the most talent outside of Connor Means.


  1. Relatively speaking. It wasn’t nearly as good as it has been in the last few years, but all indications are that this was an outlier year. 
Categories
Football

Vito’s Guess: McNulty to Start

UPDATE: Mini-Mac will start.

I haven’t really seen much beyond rumors so this is as good of a guess as any, I suppose.

This is just a gut feeling, but I think there is a very good chance Andrew McNulty starts on Saturday against Southern Miss.

That just seems to be the way this is headed.

McNulty sat behind Derek Thompson and for years and hasn’t really gotten much of a crack at the starting job.

Personally, I think it is a mistake to pull Dajon, the most talented QB on the roster (By Mac’s own admission). He’s made some poor decisions recently, especially against UAB. He also has looked really good when he makes the right decisions. I don’t know about McNulty not ever getting a “crack” at the starting job. He should have been the clear number one coming into this year based on his knowledge of the system and his years in it. The play in practice is how you earn game time repetitions. Apparently he wasn’t doing enough there to win the gig.

I hope he does well today if he is indeed the signal caller.

Categories
Football

Quarterback Talk

It has been an interesting week. After the complete destruction of a clearly disinterested SMU, North Texas was manhandled by LaTech on Thursday night. Josh Greer showed improvement against the Mustangs but reverted to his week one form against Louisiana Tech.

Meanwhile, Dajon Williams — MGN favorite — has benefited from his good performance in the handful of series he’s been a part of. The clamor for his ascension to the starter’s role is loud on twitter and the message boards.

Even Bret Vito, frequent defender of the incumbent QB, and Derek Thompson apologist, thinks that maybe – just maybe – it is time to take a quick peek at Dajon Williams.

What doesn’t add to the conversation is the following:

There was a school of thought out there at the beginning of the season that UNT wouldn’t miss Thompson. It was ridiculous back then and looks even more outlandish now.

I mean, that is just first-class trolling there. While the debate about Derek Thompson mainly hinges on how to measure being one of the best statistical quarterbacks in the history of the program against other schools. Derek Thompson’s greatest season was good for 58th in the nation1

Why do some folks feel the need to vociferously defend Derek, a man who graduated and cannot play anymore for North Texas? He will forever be in the pantheon of NT QBs because he led a team to a bowl win — and won MVP! His due praise has been given.

There is no need to compare Derek Thompson to Josh Greer, or Dajon Williams, or Andrew McNulty. We cannot bring Derek back and hand him the keys to this thing.

Mentioning the need for change seems like overkill, simply because it is so obvious. The team ranks 124th in passing nationally.

 


  1. Depending, of course, on how you sort those stats. The greater point is that they weren’t special in the context of modern college football.