North Texas Mean Green vs. Texas Longhorns
Date: August 30th, 2014
Time: 7:00 pm CT
Location: Austin, TX
Line: Texas –25.5
TV: Longhorn Network
What They’re Saying
TEAMRANKINGS – Texas 39 North Texas 13
numberFire – Texas 32 North Texas 18
Bleacher Report – Texas 35 North Texas 10
Sports Chat – Texas to cover 25.5
Sports Network – Texas 38 North Texas 17
Dallas Morning News – Texas 45 North Texas 13
Will Harris ESPN Insider – Texas 21 North Texas 14
Phil Steele – Texas 35 North Texas 10
Brett Vito – Texas 31 North Texas 17
Chat Sports.com – Texas 42 North Texas 10
College Spun.com – Texas
Coaching Search.247Sports.Com Pete – Texas 20 North Texas 17
Coaching Search.247Sports.Com Chris – Texas 24 North Texas 14
Mean Green Run Offense vs Longhorn Run Defense
It’s no secret to UNT fans what the Mean Green want to do Saturday night down in Austin. This team is built on a strong run game. The run game for UNT is so vital it really is their life breath. What makes it even more important for Saturday night is the fact that UNT is starting a new QB. Analysts always say that a strong run game is a QB’s best friend. UNT does not have one bell cow back; instead they will lean on a host of guys. First guy up will be Reggie Pegram. Pegram is returning from and ACL injury. He was really starting to hit his stride before the injury last year. Reggie brings a powerful, one cut style of running to the Mean Green offense. Second guy up is the elusive and electric Antoine Jimmerson. Jimmerson can be a dancer in the backfield at times, but in open space he is really hard to bring down. He always seems to make the first guy miss. Jimmerson is also a capable receiver out of the backfield, don’t be surprised to see him running a wheel route down the sideline. Finally the last two guys are freshman Jeffery Wilson, and Willy Ivory. Both these guys are fall arrivals to UNT. Wilson is a big back 6’1 190 with good speed and vision. Ivory is a speed guy who is equally dangerous in the backfield as he is a receiver. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few plays designed just to get it in Ivory’s hands.
UT’s run defense last year was not very good at times. The good news for UT is that Charlie Strong and new DC Vance Bedford know how to stop the run. Their defense at Louisville was tops in the country last year. They believe strongly in forcing opponents to be one dimensional. Question is can Strong and Bedford fix what was broken last year. There is no doubt that UT has a talented defense, but last year they were often out of position and played with poor technique. I believe Strong will be able to get his run defense to play a lot better this year. SR LB Jordan Hicks returns from injury and his leadership alone should make this a better defense. Steve Edmond is a big LB who had a rough start to the season last year. He rebounded after the Longhorns fired DC Manny Diaz. Edmond will be a big presence against UNT. On the DL UNT will need to control Malcolm Brown and Desmond Harrison. Brown is a disruptive force on the interior of the DL. Brown is an All American candidate.
Key Player Matchup – Mason Y’Barbo & Shawn McKinney vs. Malcolm Brown & Desmond Harrison
Stats to Consider – UNT’s 2013 Avg. per Rush 4.3 / UT’s Def Avg. per Rush 4.4 / Louisville Avg. per Rush 2.6
Mean Green Pass Offense vs. Longhorn Pass Defense
North Texas has turned over the QB position to newcomer Josh Greer. He gets to start his first game as the UNT QB on the road in front of 100,000+ people in a cozy atmosphere. Greer is a tall (6’5) pocket passer with a really good arm and enough athleticism to move around in the pocket. Against UT he will need to speed up his decision making process. Aiding Greer in the passing game, will be what is quite possibly the deepest group of WR’s that Coach Mac has ever had at UNT. Carlos Harris is a small, but speedy WR who was great on 3rd downs last year. This year he will look to become the number 1 for this WR unit. Darvin Kidsy played some last year as a true FR and has developed nicely. He is a silky smooth WR that you just want to get the ball in his hands and watch. Carl Caldwell another speedy WR will get the start against Texas. Also expect to see plenty of Darius Terrell. Terrell a transfer from Texas is the size in this WR unit. He is a big physical WR who can go over the middle, yet he has enough speed to beat people over the top. Terrell is also a capable blocker. The WR unit is talented, but unproven in the production department. The UNT passing game relies on the set-up from a good run game. The run game will help set up the play action passes down the field. If the back seven is not concerned with the run then the play action passes will be largely ineffective. UNT is not all play action and throw it down the field though. The Mean Green will also rely on short passes like hitches, curls, and screens that allow their small speedy WR’s to turn small passes into big gains. Look for those small comfort passes to get Josh Greer eased into this game. Offensive Coordinator Mike Canales likes to work those flats with TE’s and RB’s as well.
The UT secondary has a really good player in Quandre Diggs and another solid starter in Duke Thomas. Mykelle Thompson will be the FS and will also play the Nickel back. Rounding out the secondary will be FR Jason Hall. Texas is expecting big things from Hall. Once you get past the starting 4 there is not a lot of depth. The passing game is one area where I believe that UNT can and needs to find success at. What they cant do is let Diggs and Thomas sit on short pass all day long. Diggs is good enough to read one and take it the house, which is the last thing UNT needs. Instead UNT needs to challenge this secondary down the field. Attack the seems with Marcus Smith and Darius Terrell. Let Carlos Harris find the weak spot in the zone coverages. If UNT is going to have any chance at all its going to be because they are able to throw the ball.
Key Player Matchup – Josh Greer vs. Quandre Diggs
Stats to Consider – Texas allowed and average QB Passer rating of 121.0 in 2013 and 12.2 yards per completion
Mean Green OL vs. Longhorn DL
This is without a doubt my favorite matchup of the game. Two top 25 units in the country battling it out. The matchups on the inside and outside are really intriguing. Reed vs. Lemon will be a highlight reel for NFL scouts. If Lemon wants to become the first UNT player drafted in a long time, he needs a good showing. If you look at starter vs. starter Texas has an edge in talent and UNT has an edge in technique and production. Depth wise UNT is in better shape. This is not an OL for UNT that’s going to be rattled by the atmosphere. They’ve been in nicer and louder places before. They should give Josh Greer some piece of mind.
Even as good as the OL is the UT DL will still win some battles. I’m just not expecting it to be as dominating a performance as some would think. Cedric Reed is a good player, no doubt, but he sometimes gets lost in a game. The real dominating presence on the DL for Texas is Malcolm Brown as I mentioned earlier. Y’Barbo and McKinney will have their hands full all night long. The four starters for UT are the strength of the UT D. If UNT can limit their success, heck if they can wear them down a little bit its going to be good news. It’s good news because the guys behind those starting 4 are not close to being the same caliber of player.
Key Player Matchup – Cedric Reed vs. Cyril Lemon Two potential NFL draft picks/All Americans/ All Conf players going at it!
Stat to Consider – UNT’s Offensive Line has 122 career starts between them.
Mean Green Run Defense vs. Longhorn Run Offense
UNT’s defense last year was built around stopping the run. The Mean Green defense was top 20 in run defense last year. Yes they lost a lot of production and starters, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be good. What is a concern is the size. UNT’s starting 4 DL average just 252.5 lbs per man. It’s not a defensive line that is going to shove OL’s out of the way. This is a DL built on quickness. They will be pest’s and penetrator’s rather than sumo wrestlers. Alexander Lincoln and Daryl Mason are two guys who need to have big years. They both played quite a bit last year. Chad Polk is a small quick converted LB. He is a great pass rusher and plays with a tremendous motor. Sid Moore is a RS FR who again is undersized, but quick. He really worked hard this fall to earn a starting spot. Other DL in the rotation will be DE Jarrian Roberts, DE Malik Dilonga, DT Dutton Watson, and DT Austin Orr. The LB core took a big hit with starters graduating too, but this group will be exciting to watch. This maybe the fastest group of LB’s UNT has ever had. OLB Derek Akunne is an All-Conference type of player. Sed Ellis had some offseason trouble that he ran into, but has recovered from that to earn a starting spot. Ellis is undersized, but very athletic and a vicious hitter. The new MLB Fred Scott learned from one of the best last year. He is not as speedy as the other LB’s, but he is run stuffer and another big hitter.
UT’s run game is led by the best one two RB punch in the country. Malcolm Brown and Jonathan Gray are really good players. Both of those guys would start almost anywhere in the country. Brown is more of a downhill power back, while Gray is the electric shifty guy. They will both will be a burden for UNT to stop. UT hired OL Coach Joe Wickline, one of the best in the business to help open holes for Brown and Gray. Wickline’s OL unit has been shuffled as much as a deck of cards this off-season. UNT will most likely see plenty of combinations. UT is not particularly deep on the OL, but they are decent players. I wouldn’t say this is the best OL in the country, but they can cause UNT problems if they are able to stay engaged with the DL. They will outweigh the UNT DL by and avg of over 50lbs per man. A lot of inexperience for the UT line as well.
Key Player Matchup – Fred Scott vs. Malcolm Brown
Stats to Consider – Since 2005 Joe Wickline’s OL have helped their run game average 5 yards per rush
Mean Green Pass Defense vs. Longhorn Pass Offense
UNT’s secondary is the strength of the defense this year. With 3 out 4 starters returning and two of those starters being All-Conference type players you can understand why. It’s not a secondary that will wow you with athleticism. Instead they will wow you with fundamentals and swarming to the ball. Kenny Buyers is one of the best tackling DB’s in the country. James Jones is a solid player. Lairamie Lee is a hit stick waiting to happen. Plus the nickel DB Zac Whitfield has seen extensive playing time the past couple of years. The secondary being what it is will allow UNT to focus a lot of attention to the UT run game.
No one really knows what to expect from the UT pass offense. David Ash is coming off an injury that has kept him off the field for a long time. A lot of their play makers are gone or kicked off the team. Jaxon Shipley returns and he will be a sure handed good route running WR. The Longhorns are expecting big things from Marcus Johnson. He gives them a vertical deep threat. Jon Harris has been a spring/fall camp stud for the past 2 years, but hasn’t been able to put it all together in the season. Freshman Jacorey Warrick has impressed the UT coaches as well. He is the type of playmaker that could give North Texas defense fits.
Key Player Matchup – Marcus Johnson vs. James Jones
Stats to Consider – Texas leading WR from last year Jaxon Shipley only caught 1 TD.
Mean Green DL vs. Longhorn OL
UNT lost a big chunk of production from last year’s team. That doesn’t mean this year’s group can’t be as good or even better. They are undersized, but quick. They will be over matched in talent, but will play beyond their own abilities. Just because Texas is going to be bigger and stronger than the UNTs front four doesn’t mean that this group cant still inflict pain on David Ash and the Texas RBs. The key for UNT’s success in this match-up is speed. They must be quick off the ball and penetrate up the field. If they let those big hogmolies from UT get engaged with them its going to be difficult to shed the blocks. Quick penetration is one way to defend against the zone blocking scheme that UT will be using in rushing situations.
Like I’ve mentioned before the UT OL is not particularly deep in talent. I’d imagine they will rotate 6 or 7 guys with their first unit. LT Marcus Hutchins played on the DL last year. Now he gets to protect David Ash’s blind side. Can UNT get UT in passing situations and let their pass rushers wreak havoc on this UT line? I keep coming back to it, but I think this UT OL really struggles with fast DL. Kennedy Estelle is a very good OT. Many UT people thought he would be playing the LT for this game. UT moved him back to RT, which is a position he is more comfortable with. Dominic Espinosa is another pretty good player. Joe Wickline has had nothing, but good praise for Espinosa. Espinosa is not an overwhelmingly dominate player, but he is very smart. He does a good job at QB’ing the OL for UT. Perkins and Flowers at the G positions are also good players, but not great.
Key Player Matchup – Chad Polk vs. Kennedy Estelle
Stats to Consider – Chad Polk had 3 sacks last year
Throughout this new year I’m going to examine some new statistics that Bill Connelly described in his article. He makes an argument on why these statistics are the most important when deciding how a game is won. I felt it would be a pretty good addition to my break down. I didn’t grab some of his advanced metrics, but we will expand this section throughout the year. So what are the five factor in deciding a game? They are explosiveness, efficiency, field position, finishing drives, turnovers. Here is what North Texas and Texas looked like last year in these areas.
The Scouting Dashboard is replacing the trends and formations from last year. This section will grow into more detail as I actually get to see what teams do. For the Texas game this is more a prediction based on previous years data and what I believe they will do vs. North Texas.
Game Plan for Victory
- Limit mistakes and missed assignments
- Have a run to pass ratio of at least 60% to 40%
- Hit at least 46 rushing attempts
- Average 5 yards per 1st down play
- Average 6 yards per play through the game
- Get close to 180 yards passing and rushing
- Convert over 40% of 3rd downs
- Ease Josh Greer into the game with easy throws
- Make Texas read and react rather than let them play downhill and fast
- Score over 24 points
- Force Texas to have a run to pass ratio of 42% to 58%
- Force Texas into a passing down at least 65% of the time on 3rd downs
- Limit Texas to under 150 yards rushing
- Limit Texas to under 250 yards passing
- Limit Texas to under 5 yards per play
- Limit Texas to under 40% 3rd down conversation rate
- Force 2 Texas turnovers
- Force David Ash to beat you over the top
- Don’t let the OL get engaged with their blocks, beat them off the snap and penetrate
- Limit Texas to under 21 points