By Craig Fields
North Texas Mean Green vs UAB Blazers
Saturday – October 11 – 2:30 pm
Legion Field – Birmingham
UNT will attempt to put a bad loss behind them as they travel to Birmingham, Alabama to take on the UAB Blazers on Saturday. The Blazers, who are coming off a pretty good 3-point win against Western Kentucky last Saturday, will be silently confident in their ability to win this one. With the way that the Mean Green defense played last Saturday, I have to say that I do not see much of an opportunity for the Mean Green to pull out a victory. But hey, the game is won or lost on that big green thing in the middle of the stadium. They just might surprise me.
North Texas will have the unpleasant chore of stopping a very strong offense. They average almost 300-yards passing a game and over 220 rushing yards a game. Starting junior quarterback Cody Clements will be under center for the Blazers. He completes about 70% of his passes and has a pretty strong arm. He has six passing touchdowns on the season, but also five interceptions.
If the Mean Green really want to win this one, they will need to make this a one dimensional team, and actually enforce their will on that dimension. Cornerbacks James Jones and Kenny Buyers, will need to lock up UAB receivers Jamarcus Nelson and Josh Magee. However, I am of the school of mind that a defensive line makes a secondary. That means the more pressure that the defensive line is able to apply to the quarterback, the more likely the quarterback is to make mistakes.
It is not fair to expect a secondary to hold their assignments for 8-10 seconds every passing down. That is extremely difficult and can be remedied by forcing the quarterback to get rid of the ball before he is ready. Exotic blitz packages and daring defensive strategies may be needed to compensate for the lack of talent and size on the the Mean Green front seven.
The other half of this equation is stopping a very effective UAB running attack. They like to run a two back system, and they do it efficiently and successfully. Running backs Jordan Howard and D.J. Vinson are the primary ball carriers and average 5.5 and 4.1 yards per carry respectively.
The offensive line of the Blazers is where it all starts. They are some big guys who not only use their collective weight and strength to pass protect, but are effective in creating holes for these backs to get through. Unfortunately the Mean Green were just gashed by Tevin Coleman and company of the Indiana Hoosiers for a total of 363 yards and four touchdowns.
No matter how you slice this cake, it does not look good for the Mean Green. Now with that being said, the Blazers do not have the best defense in the world. There will definitely be some opportunities for the Mean Green to move the ball and put some points up on the board. For that to happen a couple of things will need to go their way.
You hear that it all starts and ends with the quarterback. Well folks I’m here to dispel that myth right now. It all starts with the big uglies on the line. The offensive line is the motor that makes a football team engine go. If offensive lineman Mason Y’Barbo and company can give redshirt freshman Dajon Williams some time in the pocket, then there is no doubt in my mind that he could make the suspect secondary of the UAB Blazers look pretty lost. If those same lineman can open up a few holes for running backs Reggie Pegram and Antoinne Jimmerson, then we could see these guys make a couple of trips into the endzone.
All in all I give the Mean Green a slim chance to win this one. There is no doubt that head coach Dan McCarney will attempt to have his guys ready to play, but at some point the coaching staff and fans have to realize that the talent just isn’t there. The continuity isn’t there. The chemistry isn’t there. The Mean Green may have a slim chance to win this one but it is very slim.
Prediction: UAB 42- UNT 27