North Texas Mean Green vs. SMU Mustangs
Date: September 6th, 2014
Time: 11:00 am CT
Location: Denton, TX
Line: UNT -2.5
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
What They’re Saying
Adam – North Texas 27 SMU 24
Greg – North Texas 14 SMU 9
TEAMRANKINGS – North Texas 27 SMU 24
numberFire – North Texas 33 SMU 24
Bleacher Report – North Texas 23 SMU 17
Sports Chat – SMU to cover -3.5
Dallas Morning News – SMU 20 North Texas 16
Brett Vito – North Texas 24 SMU 21
Mean Green Run Offense vs. Mustang Run Defense
Last week the UNT run game was practically smothered and bullied around by a very good defense. Still though the ground game was able to rush for 123 yards with virtually no threat from the pass game to help it. This week UNT’s run game should be able to find success and lanes that weren’t open last week. Reggie Pegram will get his second start of this year. Pegram didn’t look rusty at all, coming off that ACL injury. He ran with toughness and good vision. Jimmerson wasn’t patient last week and instead of dancing to get to an open lane, he was just dancing. He needs to plant and get up the field and then do his dancing in open space. Freshman Jeffery Wilson played very well for his 1st game in a big time environment. It will be interesting to see what he can do with a little bit more space this week. UNT is going to rely on the power run game, and we may see it more this week due to the uncertainty at the QB position. Expect to see lots of pre snap shifts and motions from the Mean Green to get the SMU defense out of place or at least to identify what the defense is giving UNT. Again expect to see the zone runs out of the gun. Expect to see a ton of 11 and 12 personnel. I especially believe that UNT will attack this 3 man front with 2 TE’s out of the gun. I believe that a lot of what UNT will do will be based on where the WLB lines up. If Coach Canles believes he is shading inside he will use bubble and WR screens. Once Coach Canales gets that WLB to shade a bit outside he will be attacking with the zone runs that weren’t too successful last week. This week UNT really wants to attack the alley between the NT and the E.
SMU struggled to corral the Baylor run game last week giving up 261 yards. They struggled with alignment and the tempo that Baylor played at. They also struggled getting off blocks. Still though this remains the strength of the SMU defense. They have a solid group of LB’s led by play-makers Jonathan Yenga and Stephon Sanders. UNT fans know SMU is going to stack the line of scrimmage and close up running lanes. SMU know’s that UNT is physical. This is where the game will be won or lost. If UNT is able to stay on their blocks and open up holes for the talented backfield, well then its going to be a long day for the Mustangs.
Key Player Match-up – Mason Y’Barbo vs. Jonathan Yenga
Stats to Consider – 1.8 YPC vs UT, SMU gave up 5.2 YPC vs Baylor
Mean Green Pass Offense vs. Mustang Pass Defense
Not much can be made of what was the North Texas passing game this past Saturday. I’m not sure you accurately assess what UNT was trying to accomplish. The North Texas QB’s Josh Greer and Andrew McNulty looked like high school QB’s. They were not prepared for the type of pressure that Texas applied. A lot of times they had their eyes on the rush rather than down the field. They will need to make quicker decisions this week if the UNT pass game is going to rebound. The UNT OL did the QB’s no favor’s either. They missed assignments which is not something that happens often. I expect the OL to play much better vs. SMU. The WR group never really got a chance to show what they can do. I still fill like there are playmakers amongst this group, it’s just a matter of if the UNT QB can get them the ball. I really expect there to be a huge jump in production from this group. As I mentioned early I believe that UNT is going attack the DB’s with WR screens early on to open up the running lanes. Doing this may also instill some confidence into the QB. A strong run game may also lead to more play action success then we saw last week. Again all this dependent on the UNT QB playing at a much higher level.
SMU’s secondary is not very experienced and it showed against Baylor. With virtually no pass rush the Mustangs had trouble getting stops. Their secondary wasnt great, but it was okay vs. the Bears. They are probably breathing a sigh of relief after seeing the UNT game film. I think they will be challenged more this week, but they should still be able to hold the UNT pass game in check. If UNT’s run game is clicking and then the SMU DB’s may have trouble with a play action. A couple of times last week they got burned over the top by the speedy Baylor WR’s. UNT doesn’t have that kind of speed at WR, but it does have enough to get behind the SMU secondary.
Key Player Match-up – Josh Greer vs. Horace Richardson
Stats to Consider – Combined UNT QB efficiency rating -22
Mean Green OL vs. Mustang DL
The UNT OL was flat out embarrassed last week against UT. They are aware of it, so you and I know that there will be a certain level of determination this week. It seemed like last year every time the OL had a game where they struggled it the next game they came back and killed it. Mason Y’Barbo and Shawn McKinney really got dominated on the interior. Antonio Johnson and Cyril Lemon struggled with the speed of the UT DL. This is a proud group who will bounce back this week.
SMU’s DL failed to really get any pressure on Baylor at all. SMU will attack the UNT OL with 3 down linemen. Baylor did a great job of attacking the bubbles in that 3 man front. This group in not huge for a 3 man group of DL. They are not very good at keeping OL off their LB’s.
Key Player Match-up – Kaydon Kirby vs. Darrian Wright
Stat to Consider – 4 sacks given up by UNT; 0 sacks registered by SMU
Mean Green Run Defense vs. Mustang Run Offense
UNT’s defense last week was the high point. Many analyst expected the Texas Longhorns to dominate the UNT D on the ground. Well UT had its moments, but for the most part the Mean Green held UT in check. I expect them to have good success this week against a team that is not going to threaten with the run. Last week UNT rotated a ton of guys. UNT got good performances out of Dutton Watson, walkon Andy Flusche, and Jarrian Roberts. This week they welcome back the most experienced DL of the group Daryl Mason. Other guys who will see time are Alexander Lincoln, Chad Polk, Sid Moore, Malik Dilonga, Sir Calvin Wallace and DT Austin Orr. The LB core was exciting to watch. They played fast and aggressive against UT. MLB Anthony Wallace got a chance to show off his talents, and really laid the wood to some players. This game sets up real nice for the Mean Green LB’s. They should be able to show case their speed and athleticism against a team that likes to spread you out.
SMU’s run game isnt much to talk of. They run the ball to keep you honest. Look for them to run your basic draws, dives, and zone read plays. RB Kevin Pope is a big back, but athletic. Prescott Line is the other big back that SMU with throw at the UNT defense. Don’t be surprised if Matt Davis comes into the game to run some zone reads or QB draws. He is a really athletic QB who could hurt the UNT defense with his legs. I fully expect the UNT defense to keep the SMU run game under control.
Key Player Match-up – Derek Akunne vs. Kevin Pope
Stats to Consider – -24 yards rushing last week for SMU including sacks. Without the sacks 50 yards rushing
Mean Green Pass Defense vs. Mustang Pass Offense
Last week the UNT pass defense fared okay vs. the UT passing game. They were never really burned on a play and never beat over the top. That is what we have come to expect from this pass defense. Kenny Buyers and James Jones were solid. Lee what is hit stick self. The nice surprise of the night was to see Sheldon Wade play good. He looked like he belonged out their and I expect his play to only get better as the season goes on. This week against SMU the UNT DB’s face a pretty good test. They will need to be on top of their fundamental game. SMU wants those yards after catch. The LB’s will be forced to defend in space, which is something I expect them to do well. The fun part should be watching the DL pin its ears back and rush the passer. Jarrian Roberts, Chad Polk, and Daryl Mason should all have big games this week.
SMU’s coach June Jones is famous for his Run & Shoot offense. Its a vertical passing attack. When the OL cant block the DL well, they will throw a lot of WR screens and RB screens. SMU will almost always be in some 4 wide set. Most of the time its going to be 2 wide on each side. SMU will go trips to the right or left as well. In the Jones offense its all about the WR’s reading the defense and finding the correct gaps. The run and shoot passing attack really struggles against teams with good DB’s who are athletic enough to stay with those WR’s and close down the passing lanes. Baylor had good enough athletes and DB’s to really hinder the SMU passing attack. Of coarse Baylor also was helped by the pass rush. If UNT is able to get similar pressure from their front four, well its going to be a long day for the Mustangs.
Key Player Match-up – Kenny Buyers vs. Der’rikk Thompson
Stats to Consider – 2.3 yards per pass for SMU
Mean Green DL vs. Mustang OL
UNT’s DL stood its ground last week against a bigger OL from Texas. This unit is undersized, but they are tenacious. Each guy that rotates in their gets after it. This is the type of game where they could really do some damage. SMU struggles with speed rushes, something I believe that this UNT DL cant excel at. Texas tried to run at the edges of this UNT DL which was sort of intresting. SMU wont do that. Anything they try running wise will be directly at the middle of the DL. It will be interesting to watch if the UNT DL can get off their blocks and shut down the run game. Once UNT gets SMU in those passing situations I fully believe we will see some really good pressure.
SMU’s offensive line was even worse than the UNT OL. They looked like a high school group against Baylor. In their defense they are one of the most inexperienced DL’s in the country. The Bears were able to accumulate 9 sacks against this group. Many times Baylor defenders just blew right by the Mustang OL. They’ve shuffled a few guys around up front and should perform better this week. I still think they will struggle with the speed of the UNT DL.
Key Player Match-up – Daryl Mason vs. Seaver Meyers
Stats to Consider –9 sacks for negative 70 yards.
These five factors – explosiveness, efficiency, field position, finishing drives, and turnovers go a long way in determining who wins a game. If you go back and look at each team last week they were out classed. Just based on the explosiveness factor alone Texas had a 98.9% chance of winning with an average score margin of 32.2. Pretty close to the actual margin of 31. I’m giving North Texas a 54% chance of winning vs SMU with a 2 point advantage based on these factors. You can tell both teams were equally bad last week.
Game Plan for Victory
- Build the confidence of the QB early with easy throws
- Limit 3rd and long’s. Need 3 and 4 or shorter
- Have a run to pass ratio of at least 60% to 40%
- Hit at least 46 rushing attempts
- Average 4 yards per 1st down play
- Average 5 yards per play through the game
- Get close to 150 yards passing
- Get close to 212 yards rushing
- Convert over 40% of 3rd downs
- Score over 24 points
- Force SMU into a passing down at least 65% of the time on 3rd downs
- Limit SMU to under 60 yards rushing
- Limit SMU to under 220 yards passing
- Limit SMU to under 5 yards per play
- Limit SMU to under 40% 3rd down conversation rate
- Force 3 SMU turnovers
- Win up the battle in the trenches forcing the QB’s to make quick decisions
- Limit the run after catch yardage
- Dont let the QB scramble convert 3rd downs
- Limit SMU to under 17 points