North Texas Daily

2014 Mean Green Football preview

2014 Mean Green Football preview

2014 Mean Green Football preview
August 08
15:11 2014

Tim Cato / Design Editor 

The QB Situation 

Four quarterbacks are on the Mean Green roster, and none of them are Derek Thompson. Although Thompson had clear limitations, he was a bastion of consistency for the Mean Green offense and missed only one start over the past three seasons. He was never beloved, but he will be missed, if only because there’s no clear starter behind him.

Junior Andrew McNulty is the favorite, mainly because he’s spent three seasons with the program, more than any other quarterback on the roster. Thompson showed the ability to improvise, but he was never a dedicated scrambler. McNulty rushed for more than 1,000 yards his senior year of high school and could give coaches a new wrinkle on offense. He doesn’t have a strong arm, but head coach Dan McCarney and offensive coordinator Mike Canales like players who know the system and — in theory — are experienced veterans.

Sophomore Josh Greer, a junior college transfer from Navarro College, is also in contention for the starting spot. At 6-foot-5, he’s a big, prototypical passer who will stay in the pocket and see the field well, but can’t break out and run as effectively.

UNT also has a couple of freshmen prospects that probably won’t be first day ready, but could see time if the season goes poorly. Dajon Williams was a redshirt last season and has the highest potential of the group — he’s athletic, great with his feet and is supposed to have a good arm. Although he was intended to be in contention for the starting job, a spring injury has hampered his development and he has a lot of ground to make up. True freshman Connor Means joins the Mean Green after playing high school football in the Houston area. Don’t be surprised if he’s a redshirt this season. ranked UNT’s quarterback situation 121st out of the 128 FBS Division-I squads, and it’s clearly the biggest question mark with the season opener just three weeks away.

If it’s any consolation to the player who wins the job, the Mean Green offensive line is one of the team’s strongest units next season. Two All-Conference players — guard Cyril Lemon and tackle Mason Y’Barbo — are returning next season, and the team has a surplus of quality players around them.

Senior Skip Day 

Departing senior classes are simply the nature of college athletics, but this year’s revolving door of graduating players is particularly rough. The team is losing a total of 22 senior athletes, including Thompson and three first team All-Conference players: receiver Brelan Chancellor, linebacker Zach Orr and defensive back Marcus Trice.

The defensive line was hit hardest, losing all four starters from last season. The front line of UNT’s defense has been incredibly stout in past seasons — we all remember “The Stand” against Rice, right? — So expectations are high for the two veteran members: senior Daryl Mason and junior Chad Polk. After backing up the seniors last year, they’ll be expected to step into a starting role while also providing leadership for the other players with have little to no Division-I experience.

The Mean Green also trends young at wide receiver after losing Chancellor and senior Darnell Smith, who led the team with 70 receptions. Junior Carlos Harris had a great season playing with Chancellor last season and should have no problem replacing him, but the team needs another target to emerge on the other side. Senior Darius Terrell is a possibility — he’s a big receiver at 6-foot-3 and played nine games at Texas in 2011 before transferring, but only caught seven passes last season. Incoming freshman Tee Goree is another name to remember — the three-star recruit dominated at Carthage High School and is probably the biggest name in this year’s recruiting class.

Apogee Embraces Beer

UNT will be the eighth university in Texas to sell alcohol at on-campus sporting events, starting at the home opener against SMU on Sept. 6. It’s an extension of tailgating culture (aka drinking and eating) and should bring in more students who previously wouldn’t bother walking into the stadium after spending three hours tailgating outside.

Surprisingly, that’s not the biggest change to Apogee Stadium for the 2014 football season. An already existing Conference USA rule prohibits students from sitting directly behind the opposing team’s bench, and considering Apogee’s design, this causes major problems for the students filing into that section.

After some protest and negotiating, UNT officials turned the original regulation affecting about 750 seats into a much less stringent one, only banning students from the first five rows between the 35-yard lines. Those seats, approximately 240, will be sold to “young alumni” that have graduated in the past five years. Season tickets for that section cost about $100 and come with a seat back.

Still Looking for an Upset

Last season, UNT was tied with the University of Georgia in the third quarter before falling to the superior Bulldogs football squad in a 45-21 loss. Two years ago, Kansas State University beat the Mean Green 35-21, but an already close game was even closer when you consider a questionably overturned touchdown benefitting the Wildcats.

UNT has extended games into the second half against top-name schools, but have yet to pull out a win..

Eyes all around the country will be trained on UNT’s season opener against the University of Texas on Aug. 30 for the first game of new head coach Charlie Strong’s era. Texas has been at the root of turmoil and controversy in an offseason that had five of their players arrested. On a national level, no one is watching for UNT — unless the Mean Green gives them something to watch.

The aforementioned home opener against SMU won’t carry national attention, but is incredibly important on a local level. UNT was the only Dallas-area team to make a bowl game, but still falls behind in local sports coverage. A win would bring much-deserved recognition to the growing fan base.

Breaking Down Conference USA

We asked Adam Rosenfield, a staff writer for SB Nation’s Conference USA blog,, for his thoughts on UNT next season.

UNT posted a banner year in Conference USA last year, going 9-4 and smacking Mountain West opponent UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl 36-14. The defense was the hallmark of the team, with guys like Zach Orr and Marcus Trice leading the way, and Brelan Chancellor setting the tone on special teams. Conference USA was fairly strong, but no team registered that huge win over a Power 5 conference.

With the losses of Tulane, East Carolina and Tulsa to the American Athletic Conference, and the addition of Old Dominion and Western Kentucky, it figures to be more of the same for the league. Marshall seems to be everyone’s pick to possibly go undefeated, with a weak nonconference schedule and Heisman hopeful Rakeem Cato leading the way. Marshall might be challenged, but it won’t be nearly the race like C-USA West Division, where North Texas, UTSA, and Rice are expected to battle it out until the end. UTSA returns most everyone except gunslinging quarterback Eric Soza who carried UTSA to a 7-5 record in its debut year in Conference USA.

In my opinion, there isn’t any “Must-See” games on the C-USA non conference docket (except UNT’s of course) and other than the Mean Green games against regional power Texas Stronghorns and wannabe DFW power SMU Mustangs, the really interesting games come after Halloween, with tilts against UTSA and Rice. Rice versus Marshall will be an interesting game as well come November 15.

I think UNT lost too much in terms of experience, and even though the preseason poll had UNT winning the West, I see no better than a 6-6 record.

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