Before North Texas comes to town for Saturday’s game against Georgia, we get the lowdown on the Mean Green program from a beat reporter who covers the team.
Brett Vito of the Denton Record-Chronicle answers five questions about North Texas. You can follow him on Twitter @brettvito and find his blog at meangreenblog.dentonrc.com. He’s posted a similar Q&A on Georgia from me over there.
Here’s Brett’s take on the Mean Green and Saturday’s game:
1. How does North Texas football fit in a football crazy state?
Being a college football program in Texas has a ton of advantages from the
talent of the players in the state to the passion of fans. The one problem
from UNT’s perspective is that the school can get a little lost in the mix
with Texas A&M, Texas, Baylor, TCU and, well, you get the idea.
UNT has worked hard to raise its profile over the years and has invested
heavily in its program. The school built a palace of a $79 million football
stadium that opened a couple of years ago now and made the move to
Conference USA this season, which has helped a lot.
The investments UNT has made are starting to pay off. The program
definitely has a higher profile, but it’s definitely a step down the totem
pole in the state.
2. If the Mean Green was to keep Saturday’s game close, what do you think
would have to happen?
For UNT to keep this game close, it will have to continue to get the
running game going and get some breaks. UNT didn’t run the ball well in its
first couple of games of the year, but really broke out last week in its
win over Ball State, rushing for 231 yards. UNT has to keep Georgia’s
offense off the field and chew up some clock.
UNT will also have to force a few turnovers and maybe make a big special
teams play or two. The Mean Green is really good at forcing turnovers. UNT
has forced 11 in three games and must keep that trend going to hang with
3. In what areas do you think Georgia will have the biggest advantage?
Georgia will have a big overall advantage in size and speed. UNT has a
terrific offensive line with a lot of size, but like a lot of other teams
across the country, the Mean Green just doesn’t have SEC speed or size a
lot of other places.
Georgia should be able to break some big plays and wear down UNT overall
4. Do you think playing in Athens will be an environment that North Texas
can handle given some of its road trips in recent years?
One of UNT’s best assets as a team is overall experience. Quarterback Derek
Thompson, middle linebacker Zach Orr and wide receiver Brelan Chancellor
are just three guys among a host of players who have faced major conference
opponents on multiple occasions. UNT will have some young guys out there,
but I don’t see the environment being a huge factor for the Mean Green.
5. Who’s the best player or two on North Texas that Georgia fans should
keep an eye on?
Linebacker Zach Orr and Brelan Chancellor don’t have major conference size,
but those two guys are just really good college football players. Orr is
the son of longtime NFL tight end Terry Orr and can flat play. He’s a
little on the short side, but he makes a lot of plays. Chancellor is a
smallish slot receiver, but has good speed and great agility. He’s also
strong for his size and a lot of fun to watch, especially on kick returns.
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marcweiszer