North Texas Daily

UNT Football heads into season with high hopes

UNT Football heads into season with high hopes

UNT Football heads into season with high hopes
August 29
08:54 2013

Brett Medeiros / Senior Staff Writer

The 2013 football season is one of the biggest years in the University of North Texas football program’s history.

This year, UNT is celebrating 100 years of football, starting its first year in Conference USA, opening the season at home for the first time in 12 years and playing four of its 12 games on national television.

Not to mention, for the first time in head coach Dan McCarney’s three-year stint, the UNT program has 85 scholarship players.

“We have to take advantage of the opportunities that are out there because nobody is going to hand you anything,” McCarney said. “It’s real easy to be average in football and in life so if you want to be an elite program you have to give more and be an even better team than we’ve been in the past.”

Conference USA is connected to six different bowl games and with the addition of all the bowl game opportunities, the Mean Green will have to face its share of teams coming off bowl games at the end of last year’s campaign.

On the Mean Green schedule are five teams that went to a bowl game last season: the University of Ohio, Ball State University, the University of Georgia, Rice University and the University of Tulsa. UNT will play Ball State, Tulsa and Rice in the friendly confines of Apogee Stadium.

“We all know how to play with each other, we all know what coach expects from us and we all know what to expect from each other each time we hit the field,” senior linebacker Zach Orr said.

For the second time in his career at UNT, senior Derek Thompson came out on top of a quarterback position battle and will start for the season opener against the University of Idaho. However, coach McCarney has made it clear that he will not be the only quarterback to take snaps throughout the games.

True freshman Dajon Williams will see playing time in certain offensive packages and situations come game day.

“We want to be able to play more guys than what North Texas has played in many years on game day,” McCarney said. “It’s better for morale, it’s better for the team and it’s better for late season opportunities when you hit the November and October stretch and you’re playing more guys.”

For the rest of the offense, the team stays similar to last season. Senior wide receiver Brelan Chancellor will head the receiving core and the running back position will consist of the two-headed attack of senior Brandin Byrd and sophomore Antoinne Jimmerson.

An offensive line with a combined 77 career starts will welcome new center  freshman Kaydon Kirby.

“We are a confident bunch and ready to go build off what we were able to do last year,” junior left guard Mason Y’Barbo said. “Our system we have in place is a combination of two or three other pass blocking schemes and we have it worked out to where we pretty much have an answer to anything defenses throw at us.”

The offensive line gave up just six sacks through the 12 games last year and, by the end of the year, led the nation in that category.

On defense and special teams, the key players and recognizable names have stayed. Chancellor will resume his kick and punt return duties and the defense is bringing back seven players with 12 or more starts on their resume at separate positions.

Since 2011, UNT has posted a plus-10 turnover ratio  – meaning the defense has produced 10 more takeaways than the offense lost.

The last two years have shown improvement in almost all aspects of the UNT on-field performance, including overall record and records at Apogee Stadium.

“We are really coming together this season,” Chancellor said. “We have a lot of experience on both sides of the ball, we really know how to get everything out of practice and things are starting to fall into place.”

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