Wednesday, September 19, 2012

From the other side: North Texas

This week we catch up with North Texas beat writer Brett Vito from the Denton Record-Chronicle. You can read Brett's blog HERE.

1. Sounds like Sun Belt coaches didn't have much respect for North Texas in the preseason poll but early returns show the Mean Green could be better. How would you assess that after three games?
UNT has played pretty well overall, hanging in there for quite a while against Kansas State and doing some good things against LSU. The Mean Green took care of the Texas Southern game like it should have. This team is right where I or any other reasonable person thought it would be.

Considering all the team lost after last season, I don't think UNT could have asked for much more. I have said all along, the whole season really hinges on the Troy game. If UNT wins, that's two W's and you can start looking down the line and seeing a pretty clear path to six wins and the end of the streak of seven straight losing seasons. If UNT loses this game, getting to .500 gets a lot tougher.

2. How has the run game look since Lance Dunbar departed?
UNT has looked pretty good running the ball. This team does not have a running back like Lance Dunbar, but its offensive line is still really good. Most of the key linemen are back. Brandin Byrd, Antoinne Jimmerson and Jeremy Brown form a pretty effective rotation at running back.

3. Troy made Derek Thompson look like Tom Brady last year. Has he built on that performance?
Derek struggled in the first couple of games of the year outside of a couple of touchdown passes against LSU, but really seemed to find it against Kansas State. He hit on 25 of his 28 pass attempts and set a school record for completion percentage in a game. The question now is if he can carry that performance over.

4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the defense?
UNT has a pretty good corps of linebackers. Zach Orr is the team's best defensive player and there is a good chance Jeremy Phillips will be back this week. He has a lot of experience. Where UNT might struggle a bit is against a good team's passing game. The whole secondary is new and the defensive front didn't get any pressure against Kansas State last week.

5. How do you see the game going?
It will be a lot like the last time these teams played. It will be close and will come down to the end of the game. It will be a matter of who makes the big plays and who doesn't turn the ball over. It could go either way.

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