By Craig Fields
North Texas Mean Green vs Texas Longhorns
Saturday – August 30 – 7pm
TV: Longhorn Network
Royal Texas Memorial Stadium – Austin
The UNT Mean Green travel down I-35 to take on the Texas Longhorns for their season opener. Both teams will be attempting to start their season off with a very important win on Saturday. Each of these teams have gone through major transitions as well this season.
With the departure of long time Head Coach Mack Brown, the Longhorns will be looking forward to a positive fresh start under former Louisville Cardinal Head Coach, Charlie Strong. Strong led a very strong offense and aggressive defense on one of the most feared and top ranked college teams in the nation last season.
Though he may not have the playmaker quarterback that he had in Teddy Bridgewater while at Louisville, he still has enough weapons to utilize on this Longhorns team. The Longhorns did not really have anything that they specialized in last season.
The Longhorns highest ranked team statistic was rushing yards in which they averaged about 197 a game. They were very “middle of the road” in scoring offense and defense as they were 66th in the nation in scoring offense at 29 points a game and 57th in the nation at scoring defense giving up about 26 points a game.
Strong will definitely need to get some good play from his returning starters and true freshmen if he hopes to have any success this season.
Speaking of success and changes, only one team in college football has less returning starters than the Mean Green. With that being said, the release of the depth chart a few days ago was big news. Josh Greer gets the nod to start for the Mean Green, over Andrew McNulty. Though McNulty had the advantage when it came to experience, the 6’5 and crafty Greer made more plays down the stretch and managed to earn the starting spot.
The UNT eighth ranked defense in the nation last season has definitely changed quite bit. There will be quite a learning curve for a group that had to replace eight of their 11 starters. Expect to see some timing issues both offensively and defensively as both sides of the ball will have plenty of new faces.
All in all I am expecting to see a pretty rusty game from both teams. One aspect of the offense that may not be affected as much might be the rushing game for both teams. Longhorns’ Jonathan Gray and Malcolm Brown will prove to be a solid running back tandem and a headache for any team to stop. The same can be said about Reggie Pegram and Antoinne Jimmerson for the Mean Green.
I fully expect a game centered around defense and a rushing game for both teams. The one place that the Mean Green could have a sizeable advantage, would be the special teams. Winning the battle of field position starts and ends with special teams. Kickoff and punt returns, as well as blocked field goals or punts will all play a role in how far the offense will have to go in order to score.
The game will take place on Saturday, at 7 p.m. You can catch the action on the Longhorn Network or WatchESPN.
Prediction: Texas 21- UNT 17