North Texas Daily

North Texas linebackers have big shoes to fill

North Texas linebackers have big shoes to fill

September 09
23:37 2015

Torie Mosley | Staff Writer

@toriemosley

As Saturday’s football season opener against Southern Methodist University approaches, the opposing Mustang offense could draw attention to a North Texas defense that struggled last season. As a unit the defense gave up at least 30 points in all eight of the team’s losses in 2014.

With the addition of defensive coordinator Chris Cosh, and many new faces on the field, North Texas looks to improve on last season’s slump.

Recently, the team announced its team captains, including seniors Blake Bean and Anthony Wallace for the defense, both linebackers. But improving at the linebacker position could prove difficult after the team graduated Derek Akunne, who accounted for 308 tackles in his four years with the Mean Green.

Junior linebacker Fred Scott Courtesy | North Texas Athletics

Junior linebacker Fred Scott Courtesy | North Texas Athletics

“I don’t think anybody can [replace his production],” Wallace said. “I think we just all have to take turns. We have a lot of depth this year [at linebacker], so I think our depth will be able to replace his big time play-making ability.”

If healthy, eight linebackers will travel with North Texas on seven road games this season. Sophomore linebacker Calvin Minor said he feels confident in the experience of the group.

“I think we’re really good.” Minor said. “We’re all returners from a year ago. All of us except Brandon [Garner] played a lot.“

Minor also said he loves playing in Cosh’s defense after he replaced John Skladany, the former defensive coordinator. Skladany coached Akunne and current Baltimore Ravens linebacker Zach Orr, who is also a UNT alumnus.

“[Cosh] is kind of like Skladany.” Minor said. “Similar defensive schemes and plays. He doesn’t yell a lot like Skladany. He’s a little more calm.”

Bean said he feels like he and the rest of the team are playing better than ever with the addition of a new strength and conditioning coach, Lewis Caralla.

“A big part of [our improvements] is coach Caralla,” Bean said. “He has really brought us together as a team and as a position group. He really stresses unity [and] that it shouldn’t be clicks and groups between positions on offense and defense.”

A victory Saturday would mark the first back-to-back wins against SMU in school history. But that win could depend mightily on the improvement of the defense, given that SMU rushed for 203 yards against No. 4 Baylor University last weekend.

With all the new changes in North Texas football this season, Minor says Bean and Wallace have really helped the younger linebackers and other teammates adjust to the new kinks.

“Anthony [Wallace] constantly is saying ‘you have to clock in for work, this is our job,’” he said. “A few guys in our group are really young, myself included, so they instill our confidence and they’re guys you can lean on. You don’t want to let them down at all.”

Featured Image: Senior linebacker Blake Bean runs during a North Texas football practice. Courtesy | North Texas Athletics

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2 Comments

  1. Lee
    Lee September 10, 11:17

    It’s spelled “cliques,” not “clicks.”

    Reply to this comment
  2. Lee
    Lee September 10, 11:17

    Good article, though.

    Reply to this comment

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