2009 North Texas Mean Green Football Preview
2008 Record: (1-11, 0-7)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: Todd Dodge (3-21 at North Texas, 3-21 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Todd Ford
Defensive Coordinator: Gary DeLoach
Other Key Returnees: DE Brandon Akpunku, CB Antoine Bush, S DaWaylon Cook, G Coleman Feeley, OT Victor Gill, CB Royce Hill, G Gabe Hollivay, C J.J. Johnson, WR Sam Roberson, LB Craig Robertson, OT Esteban Santiago, S Darien Williams
Key Losses: WR Sam Dibrell, WR Casey Fitzgerald, WR Brock Stickler, QB Giovanni Vizza
Thanks to Western Kentucky, North Texas has three wins during the Coach Todd Dodge era. The Mean Green beat the Hilltoppers in 2007 and that was the teams only win in 2008. That might make it seem like this is a team heading in the wrong direction, but Coach Dodge is still bringing in his type of players and there are some positives to be found if you look hard enough.
North Texas's Strengths:
One type of player that fits into Coach Dodge’s high flying system is his son. Riley Dodge will take over the quarterback duties from Giovanni Vizza. Vizza had a solid 2007 campaign, but 2008 did not go so well and he would have likely lost out on the starting job to the younger Dodge anyway. Dodge, a redshirt freshman, could have played at a more prominent program than UNT, but playing for his father was too much to turn down. Coach Dodge likes to throw and throw often and the younger Dodge has the potential to put up huge numbers. However, most of the experienced wide receivers are now gone, most notably Casey Fitzgerald and Brock Stickler, and players like Sam Roberson, Jamaal Jackson, Tyler Stradford and Michael Outlaw need to step up and emerge as consistent receivers. Returning the entire offensive line is nice, but the unit was not very good last year. They should be better with a year of experience and that is good news for both Dodge’s and running back Cam Montgomery. Montgomery rushed for 928 yards and nine touchdowns last year and he can make the offense halfway decent while the new receivers work with their new quarterback.
North Texas's Weaknesses:
The defense could not stop anybody last year and there is little reason to believe that anything will change in 2009. The coaching staff has made a few moves to try and add some speed to the unit, most notably moving Brandon Akpunku from linebacker to defensive end. And it is in the front four where UNT needs the most help. Eddrick Gilmore will occasionally get into the backfield and if Akpunku can successfully do the same, the entire defense will be much improved. The linebackers at least have some experience. Tobe Nwige is the star of the unit and Kylie Hill and Craig Robertson are at least upperclassmen. The secondary, on the other hand, is extremely young and it is quite likely that three of the four players starting in the secondary will be sophomores.
The Bottom Line for the Mean Green:
Even just two years into the Coach Dodge regime, there is no way this team should rank last in the conference in scoring offense. This is a team that is supposed to put up big numbers and they ranked fourth in passing offense and fifth in total offense and managed to score a mere 20 points per game. It is actually quite amazing that they won one game in 2008. Ironically, that was a high scoring shootout that they won and those are exactly the type of games this time needs to play in if they want to win.
By Joel Welser
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