By Craig Fields
The masses were really spirited as UNT had its first college football season opener at home in eight years. The North Texas faithful cheered, screamed, and shouted as their team raced through the tunnel accompanied with noisy cannons and fireworks. The adrenaline was obviously pumping as the first kickoff of the game was booted to the back of the end zone by the North Texas kicker.
The Idaho Vandals, however, did draw first blood as quarterback Chad Chalich hit his tight end for an easy 6-yard touchdown. Those six points would be all that the Vandals would get as Mean Green linebacker Marcus Trice earned his first career extra point block. Even with Idaho dipping into their bag of tricks and kicking an onside kick on their ensuing kickoff, they would not score another point throughout the duration of this game.
Though the Vandals scored early, their drive did not inspire a vote of confidence as they used up their three allotted timeouts for the half in the first 2:40 of the game. This was because of the aggressiveness of the defense. The captain of the defense, middle linebacker Zach Orr who had a total of 10 tackles, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery said, “We settled down after that first series, which showed the maturity of the team.”
Dan McCarney’s stamp on this team was and is quite noticeable as the no huddle approach on offense and the attacking, swarming nature on defense took its toll on the Vandals.
After giving up an opening drive score the Mean Green promptly went on a 40-0 run to win the game 40-6. Derek Thompson had one of, if the not the best games of his college career. He completed 23 of his 27 pass attempts for 349 yards and two touchdowns. He was accurate all night long hitting receiver after receiver.
His favorite target of the night was Brelan Chancellor as he had six receptions for 135 yards including a brilliant 85-yard play action reception. Not only did Chancellor account for 135 receiving yards but amassed 283 of the total 591 all purpose that UNT accrued as a team. To have a dynamic and explosive player like Chancellor available after being hurt for much of last year is a great weapon for a team trying to establish a winning identity.
One thing that has plagued this team in recent years is their inability to get anything started on special teams in the return game. Coach McCarney knows about the less than mediocre play of his special teams unit. “We challenged our special teams. I’m tired of hearing about how bad our return guys are.” Three punt returns for 111 yards is the most this team has seen in the past 10 years or more.
Thank you Brelan Chancellor.
Although this is just one win, it came at a good time for the Mean Green. To start the season off with a win is just what the doctor ordered for a group of young men attempting to change the futility of this team. Coach McCarney realizes this as well. “It’s one game and one win, but it was a real positive game. But we’ve got to correct some things. We’ve got to get a lot better, immediately.”