Breakdowns Football

2014 North Texas Offensive Breakdown

I have been perusing the information at cfbstats in preparation for the final game of the year (rivalry!) against UTSA and found a few things.

Here’s a mini-breakdown of the season right here:

The passing offense is the worst since 2010, when we also had a similar disaster at the QB position. Then, three different QBs threw at least 50 passes: Riley Dodge 176, Nathan Tune 66, Chase Baine 53. Also in there was a young Derek Thompson, losing yet another year of eligibility for a lost cause.

It was a terrible year in which Nathan Tune began the year well enough then got a gruesome hip injury. He played only two games. In came Derek Thompson who threw 11 passes in the game against Army before succumbing to injury for the year.

Who was left? Well that would be Riley Dodge. He was the QB the previous season but had made the move to WR at the start of 2010. He was pressed into duty and gamely put up decent numbers. . . until he was also hurt. Who was up next? Fellow WR Chase Baine.

That’s right, the worst passing season in recent memory was largely due to two WRs playing QB.

Fun fact: 2014 has been even worse than that.

Here’s a less complex view:

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 11.27.35 PM

What the comparison tells you is this: if Andrew McNulty puts up a stat line that reads 25/28 291 yards 4 TDs that will mean this team equaled the worst passing performance in the last six years.1 And that’s being generous as there is no way that I know of to throw negative interceptions.

The run game has only been only about 30 yards per game better than the 2008 pace, the year that North Texas was primarily a throwing team, having put up 42 passes a game. The 2011 season is a better comparison to this year. The run game averaged 152 per game. Compare that to this year’s 153. That team won five games. This team is at four with one to play.

The team needs to put up at least 627 yards of offense including 291 yards passing to not be the worst yardage-attaining offense in recent memory. This comes on the heels of the best in recent memory.2 Is it all because of Derek Thompson? I doubt it. A combination of poor quarterback play and poor running have combined to create this mess. We’ve had iffy quarterback play before with better run games. We’ve had poorer run games and better offenses. We’ve not had such a combination of bad since 2008.

2008: 363 ypg
2014: 315 ypg

If this game against UTSA is well and truly a rivalry game, we can hope and pray that records and season performance don’t matter. I mean they say that all the time. Surely they can’t be lying to us. This is our first chance at a late-season rival.3 UTSA’s defense is one of the best in the conference.

The stats say what you’ve all surely noticed with your eyes: this is a bad offense.

  1. Or whomever is doing the throwing. 
  2. By only 2 yards per game. By totals? Yes, 2013 was great but that was after 13 games. You can make the argument that offense in losses means less than offense in wins but that’s kind of ridiculous. Also, that 2009 team was a few bounces short of putting together a string of wins. They lost five games by four or less points. 
  3. If we compare ourselves to Texas, SMU would be our OU and UTSA would be our A&M. Yay for irrational comparisons. 

2011 Season Preview

The start of the season is upon us. How do you feel?

Compared to last year, this season should fill you with dread. Maybe disillusionment.
Looking from last July 26th, I was reasonably pessimistic about this 2011 season. Papa Dodge had loaded up for one last hurrah in 2010 and much depended on it. Multiple draft classes had failed to blossom. The roster was loaded with JUCOs and BCS-castoffs who had yet to prove their hype. Todd’s job depended on it.

It failed him.

The team that should have been the best of the four-year term only managed to lose valiantly in the opening games. Canales stepped up and arguably steered the ship to a finish we could be proud of — yet one that looked a lot like the start.
It is difficult to be optimistic. The QB spot is either going to be filled by JUCO Brent Osborn or newbie Derek Thompson. With only 24 snaps of experience on this level between the two, neither inspires confidence. Lance Dunbar is going to face stacked fronts and for all his breakaway ability, asking him to carry such a load in a winning campaign is ridiculous.

The defense showed signs of life but is still stocked with guys recruited by Papa Dodge. There is more hoping and wishing.

Really, if any of the three units play like they did under Canales, I am sure we will be satisfied. That is the odd thing. All optimism comes from Danny Mac and his coaching staff. We are all hoping that he can magically motivate, coach and conjure up a decent squad despite even despite his words of reason.

How much of the slight improvement that the 2010 team showed will carryover and how much of it can be attributed standard New Coach Motivation is up for debate. It doesn’t matter. Mac can motivate. His introductory press conference and history in the coaching ranks has more than proven that he can coax effort from a college athlete. That effort mixed with a modicum of decent defensive scheming has me expecting a half-way decent squad less prone to allowing 50-yard trots through the middle of the park.

Things are looking up.

Unfortunately, there will be no shocking the world this season –at least not over the long haul. A surprising win here, a close loss there, maybe a late-season long mathematical chance at snatching the Sunbelt crown may be all the drama and hope we can expect.

Danny Mac is not hot young prospect with a crazy high-octane offense. That isn’t what we need right now. He is a guy that will, as Bret Vito has said, get us looking like an honest-to-goodness college football team.


We can expect more of the same from Mike Canales: Spread offense with tight-ends to open up holes in the running game. He mixed in some stuff that Brian Kelly uses at Oregon and so we will likely see more runs and fakes from the QB spot. Stuff that Brent Osborn does well. Derek Thompson will likely start and that doesn’t change much. Any coordinator worth a damn will modify his offense to suit the players on the roster. We saw some Nate Tune read options in his brief appearances.

It will all funnel through Lance Dunbar, of course. The guy projects to 1400 yards and 15 scores rushing along with 300 or so and a couple scores receiving. Did I mention that he has something like ten or eleven long scores a year? Dude is productive and entertaining. He should more than make it easy on the two newbie quarterbacks and the still unproven receiving corps.


We once again lost a linebacker/leader. Once again we have questions about the front line. Once again the defense looks to be without obvious playmakers.

The good news is that Danny Mac’s specialty is defense and in particular the defensive line.


Its good for the long term. Here we find the area that requires the most patience. As was often the case last year, if the defense can keep it close, we might have a shot to win a few.

That is ridiculously simplistic analysis but likely the most true. There is no evidence that these guys will be a force –nor anything resembling a force– as of yet. The smallish defensive line was even a point of emphasis for the new coach upon arriving. They won’t be getting much bigger and we will not have reinforcements for at least another year.

This is it.


The new staff has plenty of slack. Dan McCarney has plenty of skins on the wall to prove that he can coach on this level and win. If the players can muster up the same level of effort they displayed (or if the staff can coax it from them) we can surprise some teams with a few wins.

There are certainly some guys with some talent. Look at Tyler Stradford, Brelen Chancellor and of course, Dunbar. If we can stay within reasonable striking distance those guys have the talent and ability to break a 60-yarder. That is really all we can hope for.

All that said, I will forget I mentioned any of this on the first of September and complain that we don’t score on every possession.


Basketball Recaps

North Texas Puts A Beating On Arkansas State.

Arkansas State’s Martavius Adams came into this game averaging 12.6 points per game. He scored 4 tonight.

I can’t say much for the other games he has played this year as I am not a Ark State fan.

I can say that I watched him loaf around the Super Pit tonight and look all kinds of garbage.

For serious, guys. Arkansas State has some big dudes. Four guys are near 250lbs and 6’7″-plus. Theoretically they should clog up the lane and make it difficult for Josh White and the rest of our perimeter-oriented team to score. Instead, North Texas strolled down the middle for easy buckets often. When they tired of that, they strolled down the baseline for equally easy buckets.

It wasn’t even like they had their focus on the 3-point line and got burned. No, Dominique cashed five treys en route to his 21 points.

They got hammered at Denver on Friday and did a repeat of that woeful performance tonight. Obviously the cannot compete with the ‘Belt elite on the road.

Unfortunately, that isn’t saying much considering both North Texas’conference losses came to two very-middle-of-the-pack Sunbelt East teams.

We know we can dominate teams in Denton yet we have difficulties away from the friendly confines of the Pit. I am not wrong to not pencil in a win against bottom-dweller ULL on Thursday. We will just have to wait and see even though we put a hurtin’ on them on New Years Day.

The big game is obviously in Denver a week from tonight. How will we handle the altitude plus the road game? If we handle our business in Louisiana then that game will even us up in the loss column at two a piece and give us one more win (7 to 6). Denver loss tonight at Middle Tennessee and doesn’t play until the Saturday matchup with us.

Interesting week ahead of us.

Also …

–There was a good crowd tonight, huh? The attendance was listed at 4856. Sweet.
–Tristan had 16 points and 11 of which came on free throws. Dude just gets to the line every game. Definition of a scorer, dude.
–How ’bout the dude donating 1 million to the athletic department? More awesome. We need to crank out a T. Boone Pickens already to upgrade that M to a B, though.

Basketball Recaps

Troy 89 North Texas 81: WTF?

It feels like we lost by more. With Troy carrying that sad little 3-13 record coming in and big bad North Texas with the 14-3 mark I was thinking that we should go and handle our business.

Well, Troy did the business-handling.

 For whatever reason NT couldn’t stop them in the second half, allowing them to shoot .681 in the period.

It was a bad, bad loss.

Said Johnny Jones:

“You have to give them [Troy] a lot of credit, they were a team on a mission tonight,” said head coach Johnny Jones. “We didn’t make enough plays in the second half like we did in the first and that hurt us.”

Apparently it is not the end of the world:

“Some nights you have setbacks,” Shorter said. “That’s basketball. We have to go hard in practice and get better.”

Ah, practice. We’ve been hearing about practice often, haven’t we? Tristan has been running a lot for not going all out on the defensive end? Something like that? Could it be that they are getting complacent or something? Methinks there is something to all these references.

Go ahead and put me on the Concerned List. Shannon is right, that is basketball. You do drop games to poor teams. National champs have lost games to worse teams. It happens. You also can get complacent and not stay hungry. That is worse. This is not the NBA where you have an entire playoff series to turn the switch on. You are one-and-done if you come out looking sloppy.

It is really hard to blame them for really poor defense when it looked to my eyes that Troy was really just getting lucky. Lee had that hanging jumper that even he thought was a fortunate.



We have ULM on Thursday.

[Troy Messenger]
[Denton RC]


Who will replace Riley Dodge?

So who do we have to replace Riles? Here, in no particular order, are the guys that are on/will be on the roster:


Riley Dodge To Transfer

Riley Dodge doing stuff

Per MGR, espndallas and MGB,


“I have loved my time at North Texas. I have many friends and teammates that I will miss greatly. I hope all the best for North Texas football as it enters a new era and a great new stadium. Under the circumstances that I have been presented, I feel it is in the best interest for all, for me to seek a transfer at this time.”


Keeping Mike Canales

Should we keep the guy based of the 33-6 beat down over perennial fodder Western Kentucky?

The answer is no.

Should we keep the guy if he runs off three or four wins against the conference plus K-State?

The answer is maybe.

Will we?


Riley Dodge Breaks Wrist

The ridiculousness continues. Brett Vito says Riley has broken his non-throwing wrist.

Our top three quarterbacks have been injured. According to Todd Dodge, Chase Baine will be taking the primary snaps this week in preparation for the self-hating Arkansas State Red Wolves.

Not good news for this star-crossed team. To be fair, Dodge may be able to play if he can sport a cast instead of getting surgery. It is another injury for Dodge, who by my unofficial count has had shoulder surgery that ‘ended’ his career at quarterback as it was thought he would not get the full strength back. He miraculously recovered — or perhaps there was another reason for the switch?– in time to rescue the team from a quarterback scarcity following the injuries to Nathan Tune and Derek Thompson.

In any case, after performing horribly (along with the rest of the Mean Green) as the emergency quarterback vs Army when Thompson went down with a  leg injury, he has played exceptionally well for a guy without a quarterback’s arm.

In two full games as the starter he has completed 70% of his passes for 337 yards and 4.15 yards a carry with six total scores. Not bad, huh? Add to that his relative clutch-ness and heady play as the signal-caller and you realize this is a pretty significant blow for our guys in green.

Despite claims to the contrary, Riley has been a leader in his own way. You don’t take your offense on a (seemingly) game tying 91-yard drive in the waning minutes of the final quarter if you can’t lead anyone. You also don’t throw corner routes if you don’t have an arm. Even if he can’t chuck it 70-yards from his knees, he can put the ball on the money. In the final drive against Louisiana-Lafayette Kid Dodge knew when to pass, when to run, and when to throw the ball away.

Really, that is all you can reasonably ask for: a playmaker that doesn’t make mistakes.

Now, before you start pointing out his many flaws, remember I am not saying the guy is our best player–Lance Dunbar has something to say about that– but I am saying that he gives us a chance, one that we might not have with the unproven youngster this week.

Also — if you are going to throw out some bonehead plays Riley Dodge has made , remember Vince Young on the drive before his signature drive against USC nearly lost the game by throwing into triple coverage–USC just dropped the pass.