North Texas Daily

Defensive line leads charge for surging Mean Green football team

Defensive line leads charge for surging Mean Green football team

Defensive line leads charge for surging Mean Green football team
November 12
09:34 2013

Brett Medeiros / Senior Staff Writer

In the Mean Green football team’s 41-7 win against the University of Texas-El Paso on Saturday, the UNT defense held an opponent to 16 points or fewer for the fifth straight game. But  in particular, it was a breakout game for the defensive line.

The Mean Green defense finished the game with eight sacks – a UNT single-game record. But in a season where the UNT defense is ranked among the top teams in the nation, the defensive line still feels like it’s being overlooked.

“That’s what drives me personally,” senior defensive end Aaron Bellazin said. “I play with a chip on my shoulder every Saturday.”

The defensive line has become the forefront of the system that has helped UNT win seven games and become bowl eligible for the first time in nine years. The UNT defense allows an average of 18.6 points per game, tied for the 11th fewest points allowed in the nation.

“Obviously, it all starts up front,” head coach Dan McCarney said. “To control the game, we need to be strong on the line.”

Leading the defensive line is a wall of four experienced seniors: defensive tackles Richard Abbe and Ryan Boutwell, and defensive ends Bellazin and Brandon McCoy. Each player has 11 or more starts for UNT.

“The defensive line has really become a big part of this defense and why we are having such great success this year,” senior linebacker Zach Orr said. “They plug up all the holes, they take on the double teams and by doing so, it lets the rest of the defense roam free.”

The team is tied for fourth in the nation with 31 sacks. The defensive line is responsible for 24.5 of the sacks, which is expected to apply most of the pressure on the opposing quarterback. Bellazin leads the team with 7.5 and is tied for 13th in the nation.

But the leader of the defensive line is 28-year-old McCoy, who added a career-high two sacks in part of UNT’s record-setting performance against UTEP.

“Brandon ‘Sarge’ McCoy is a leader, a captain. He is just a big part of the line,” Abbe said. “The energy he brings to the locker room is something you just feed off of. It’s something you have to experience for yourself to really understand what it means.”

On Veteran’s Day, McCoy was presented with the Armed Forces Merit Award for his five years of service in the Army – including 13 months in a combat zone in Iraq. The award goes to a football player who has made a major impact in the United States Armed Forces.

Heading into next season, the challenge for the defensive line will be to keep the same level of production going despite all four seniors moving on. McCoy said it is important for the next generation of starters to be ready to take over.

“These younger guys on the line are buying into the system and they’re playing like their hair is on fire. The young guys are doing everything they need to do,” McCoy said. “They know that next year they’re going to be in that big spot.”

In the Mean Green football team’s 41-7 win against the University of Texas-El Paso on Saturday, the UNT defense held an opponent to 16 points or fewer for the fifth straight game. But  in particular, it was a breakout game for the defensive line.

The Mean Green defense finished the game with eight sacks – a UNT single-game record. But in a season where the UNT defense is ranked among the top teams in the nation, the defensive line still feels like it’s being overlooked.

“That’s what drives me personally,” senior defensive end Aaron Bellazin said. “I play with a chip on my shoulder every Saturday.”

The defensive line has become the forefront of the system that has helped UNT win seven games and become bowl eligible for the first time in nine years. The UNT defense allows an average of 18.6 points per game, tied for the 11th fewest points allowed in the nation.

“Obviously, it all starts up front,” head coach Dan McCarney said. “To control the game, we need to be strong on the line.”

Leading the defensive line is a wall of four experienced seniors: defensive tackles Richard Abbe and Ryan Boutwell, and defensive ends Bellazin and Brandon McCoy. Each player has 11 or more starts for UNT.

“The defensive line has really become a big part of this defense and why we are having such great success this year,” senior linebacker Zach Orr said. “They plug up all the holes, they take on the double teams and by doing so, it lets the rest of the defense roam free.”

The team is tied for fourth in the nation with 31 sacks. The defensive line is responsible for 24.5 of the sacks, which is expected to apply most of the pressure on the opposing quarterback. Bellazin leads the team with 7.5 and is tied for 13th in the nation.

But the leader of the defensive line is 28-year-old McCoy, who added a career-high two sacks in part of UNT’s record-setting performance against UTEP.

“Brandon ‘Sarge’ McCoy is a leader, a captain. He is just a big part of the line,” Abbe said. “The energy he brings to the locker room is something you just feed off of. It’s something you have to experience for yourself to really understand what it means.”

On Veteran’s Day, McCoy was presented with the Armed Forces Merit Award for his five years of service in the Army – including 13 months in a combat zone in Iraq. The award goes to a football player who has made a major impact in the United States Armed Forces.

Heading into next season, the challenge for the defensive line will be to keep the same level of production going despite all four seniors moving on. McCoy said it is important for the next generation of starters to be ready to take over.

“These younger guys on the line are buying into the system and they’re playing like their hair is on fire. The young guys are doing everything they need to do,” McCoy said. “They know that next year they’re going to be in that big spot.”

Feature photo: Senior defensive end Aaron Bellazin levels a UTEP ball carrier during the second quarter of the game on Saturday. Bellazin complied five total tackles; two and a half of them were for a loss of 19 yards. Photo by Edward Balusek / Staff Photographer 

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