North Texas Mean Green
Date: October 11th, 2014
Time: 2:30 pm CT
Location: Birmingham, AL
Line: UAB -6.5
Weather: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 82. Calm wind becoming southwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.
What They’re Saying
Adam (2-3) – North Texas 31 UAB 24
Greg (4-1) – North Texas 38 UAB 28
TEAMRANKINGS – UAB 32 North Texas 25
numberFire – UAB 31 North Texas 25
Bleacher Report – UAB 37 North Texas 29
Sports Network – UAB 38 North Texas 34
Sports Chat Place – UAB
Blitz Weekly.com – UAB 42 North Texas 27
Brett Vito – North Texas 31 UAB 28
UAB has a very good offense that ranks in the top 20 in yards per game. The Blazers are balanced in terms of yardage and 60-40 when it comes to their run pass ratio. They have a host of explosive play makers that will make it tough for UNT to stop them. They are going to attack UNT up the middle with their ground game. Josh Howard is a big bruising back with decent speed, but he does a great job as the hammer for this offense. Howard get’s the bulk of his yards and work on 1st down ( 62 car for 400 yards). Also he does a lot of his damage in the second half when defenses become worn down (353 yards). UAB’s rushing attack is not similar to Indiana’s. Indiana featured a zone blocking scheme that can give small defensive lines problems. Instead UAB likes big on big and power running plays. What UAB is going to do is come out in 11 personnel which is 1 TE, 3WR, 1 RB. Its going to be a shotgun formation. The TE is going to be lined up in the backfield slightly offset of the T’s. Once the ball is snapped look for either G to pull towards the direction of the run. So if UAB is running to the left they will pull their RG Cameron Blankenship. A lot of times they will have the TE Kennard Backman lead block and have the G’s get right up in the gap between the G and T. UAB doesn’t do a whole lot of running to the outside. Dont just expect Howard to carry the load either. RB D.J Vinson will get quite a few carries and QB Cody Clements is capable of using his legs to give the UNT defense fits.
The UAB passing game is a big play passing attack. Clements is very efficient in getting the ball out of his hands on the short passes, but this is a pass attack that likes to get big chunks. They are in the top 10 in the country in yards per pass attempt (9.5) and yards per completion (15.7). The reason behind the big number is UAB likes to take shots off of play action. The Blazers will give the defense the same look as a run with the pulling G and boom Clements pulls the ball out and takes a shot down the field to speed demon J.J. Nelson. Nelson ranks 16th in the country in yards per catch with 22.6. Most of his big plays come on 1st down as well. Nelson is not the only weapon UAB has in the passing game. UAB has a pretty talented TE in Blackman who leads the Blazers in receptions. Look for Blackman to do his work on 2nd down. The Blazers passing attack is not immune to mistakes. In fact they’ve thrown 8 INTs so far this season. Quite a few of those have turned into TDs. Clements does stare down his WRs at times and that’s where those picks come from. Besides Nelson be on the look out for Magee and Humphrey. Both of those guys are capable of making big plays against the Mean Green.
UAB employs a 3-4 defense with an even front. What do I mean by even, well your going to see the Blazers DL line up in even techniques. Don’t expect to C Kaydon Kirby to be covered up with the NT a lot. I’m not saying that it wont happen. I’m just expecting it not to happen often. What Kirby will have to deal with is LBs Jake Ganus and Alonzo McGee. UAB likes to line both these guys up in the A gap. Ganus more often than not will be the guy blitzing and trying to disrupt the play. On the outside UAB will play man coverage something that UNT WR’s struggle with. There wont be those easy pitch catch plays like Indiana was willing to give up. Thats not to say that UNT still can hit on some big plays. UAB is giving up 13.7 yards per completion. There are big plays to be had, but can UNT make them?
UAB likes to bring pressure. I would expect to see multiple pressures from the edge and up the middle.
Special Teams Overview:
JJ Nelson is a home threat every time he touches the ball, so the UNT coverage units will need to be on high alert. Cant stress enough that they need to stay in their lanes against this guy. UAB’s kicking game is very strong, both Long and Mullins are All Conf type of players. Mullins does a pretty good job with the hang time on his punts. When Mullins doesn’t get a good hang time the Blazers are vulnerable to a big return.
Players to Watch:
WR#1 JJ Nelson –15 catches, 339 yards receiving, 1 TD. 8.8 yards per punt return, 33.2 yards per kick off return
The truth is UNT has no one to cover Nelson. He was picked 1st team All CUSA by Phil Steele. Nelson is your classic deep threat guy and will run past anyone UNT has. This is where you need safety help over the top, but that wont happen. Nelson is also one of the most dangerous return guys in the country.
RB#7 Jordan Howard –564 yards rushing, 5 TDs
Howard is big back who is the hammer for the UAB offense. He is not as explosive as Coleman from Indiana, but he is productive and should have a good day vs the Mean Green.
LB #4 Jake Ganus – 25 tackles, 2 Sacks, 6.5 TFL
Look for the ball and you find Mr. Ganus. He led the Blazers in tackles last year qith 93. He is a converted safety so he has plenty of athleticism to fly to the ball.
The Mean Green offense started out slow last week against IU, but picked up the pace and was able to move the ball. Dajon Williams continues his growth and should feel more comfortable with how the offense is developing around him. Williams will need help from his WRs this week. Harris, Terrell, and Kidsy will need to win at the LOS. Big plays could be in store for this group. The running game has been all over the map. UNT has Reggie Pegram who can pick up the tough yards, Jimmerson who can be electric, and Dajon who gives defenses something else to worry about. Jimmerson showed us again why he is so frustrating. When Jimmy doesn’t dance in the backfield he is really good. Perhaps the OL will get better production this week. I’m still waiting for this unit to dominate a worthy opponent. If they don’t do it this week I would threaten to take away their man cards.
This UNT offense could be on the verge of a break-out game. UAB is okay on defense they are not great. They are going to challenge Dajon to make quick decisions. You can bet that they are going to be playing a lot of contain type defenses. The book is out on UNT liking to use Dajon on sprint roll outs. UAB is going to try to take this away with edge blitzes. The goal is to see if Dajon can beat them from the pocket.
If you want to see more about how this UNT attacks it opponents check out this piece we did earlier in the week- Lets Analyze: Offense
The key for UNT is to read your keys appropriately. How many times are we going to hear the coaches talking about reading your keys to this team? My bet is your going to hear it a lot this weekend too. With the way that UAB likes to attack its opponents with play action and deep passes it will paramount for UNT to accurately decipher plays. If the Mean Green don’t then your going to be seeing lots of plays over the top. One concern of mine for UNT is the speed that the UAB receivers posses. They’ve got a couple of guys that no one on UNT can match up with. UNT can not get away with no safety help over the top. Again how does UNT do stopping the run will determine a lot of whether or not UAB is able to consistently beat UNT over the top. The front 7 has to do their job in handling the run. The DL should not get obliterated and shoved around like IU did to them. Its a different scheme and more manageable for UNT to win battles. All UNT fans know that Derek Akunne is going to show up, but how about the other LB’s? They are young, but we are now 5 games into the schedule they should be starting to understand what their seeing a lot better. If UNT is able to get UAB in 3rd and long situations you should see some pressure on Cody Clement. The UAB RT Hayden Naumann is a guy I think UNT can beat. Get Chad Polk or J. Roberts matched up against him I think we can win that battle. In the secondary we need to see a better effort from Buyers, Lee, and Jones. That trio is good enough to stop the bleeding. If they don’t play well then UNT has no chance in this game.
Special Teams Overview:
For the most part the UNT special teams have been pretty rock solid this year. They do a good job in coverage, but will be tested by a really good returner this week. D. Kidsy is an electric return guy for the Mean Green and could hit a few big returns in this game. K Trevor Moore has been really good and so have the punters Eric Keena and Blake Macek.
Players to Watch:
RB #22 Antoinne Jimmerson – 47 carries,228 yards, 2 TDs, 3 catches 44 yards
Get Jimmerson involved early and don’t go away from him. Once he gets 10 touches he starts to get better. He could open this whole offense up.
WR #4 Darvin Kidsy – 9 catches for 92 yards, 5 pr for 145 yards, 1 TD
UAB is likely to be focused on stopping Harris. That should open up things for Kidsy. I’d like to see UNT get the ball in hands more, because he is just as explosive as Harris. Kidsy also needs to catch the ball when targeted. He should be catching over 50% of what thrown his way.
CB #13 James Jones– 24 tackles, 1TFL, 2 INTs, 1 TD
This is one of those games where I could see Jones coming up with an INT. Somebody for UNT is going to to get an INT and I have my money on Jones. He is UNT’s best cover corner and will be under fire all game long. A big game is needed.
Game Plan for Victory
- DOMINATE the line of scrimmage
- Attack down the field. Take those shots
- Limit early mistakes, and mistakes in your own territory
- Hit at least 24 passing attempts
- Average 6 yards per 1st down play
- Average 6 yards per play through the game
- Get close to 200 yards passing
- Get close to 250 yards rushing
- Convert over 50% of 3rd downs
- Score over 35 points
- Force UAB into a 3&7 or longer 70% of the time
- Limit UAB to under 120 yards rushing
- Limit UAB to under 230 yards passing
- Limit UAB to under 5 yards per play and under 5 yards per play on 1st down
- Limit UAB to under 30% 3rd down conversation rate
- Force 3 UAB turnovers
- Sack the QB 5 Times
- READ the KEYS CORRECTLY
- Dont let the QB scramble convert 3rd downs
- Limit UAB to 28 points and under
- DON’T GET BEAT DEEP ON PLAY-ACTION
This is game where I fully expect UNT to come out and play aggressive. Like Vito mentioned in his prediction, Coach Mac is a great motivator. The proof is that he is 14-6 after a loss winning by an average score of 38-15. This team is angry and focused after losses. Right now UAB is playing at a higher level than UNT and they do things that UNT does struggle with. That being said, they are also trying to learn how to win and deal with success. After every win this year they’ve lost. UAB has heard all week how good they are playing and how great the homecoming game will be. That will translate into a let down. They won’t be play at their highest level.
Mostly everything in my head told me to pick UAB to win this game. Their explosive offense, it being a road game for UNT, their play action offense, and their decent defense. I hate to do this, but I just feel like they will turn the ball over a lot vs. UNT. Turnovers is not a stat you should rely on when picking a game, but I do feel its why UNT has a solid chance at winning this game. This is a 50/50 game and a chance for one of these programs to really jump start their season. For UNT its about gaining momentum. For UAB its about keeping that momentum going.
You want to know why North Texas will win this game?
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