North Texas offense presents a different look

Few Tide fans know very much about Alabama's next opponent. The Mean Green of North Texas are coming to Tuscaloosa for Saturday's game, and Tide Defensive Coordinator Carl Torbush provides a detailed scouting report. <br><br>"Overall they're a run-oriented team that can throw the ball," he said. "But they're very, very patient in what they do.

"They don't take a great deal of chances. They'll run a couple of reverses and throw a couple of deep balls, but basically they're going to try and take as much time off the clock as they possibly can. They do a good job of complementing their defense, which is obviously pretty good."

After two games this season, North Texas is averaging 210 yards per game, 161 of which comes on the ground. "They're a very patient offensive football team," Torbush said. "They're going to try to control the clock, keep the ball out of their opponent's hands and try to get the game into the fourth quarter close. They don't vary much, whether they're ahead or behind."

Texas throws North Texas running back Kevin Galbreath (5) for a two-yard loss during the second quarter, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2002, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)

Facing a very good Texas defense in its season opener, the Mean Green managed only 90 yards rushing. But in their second game versus Nicholls State North Texas ran for 232 yards and three touchdowns. "They do a good job with their draw series and counter plays," Torbush related. "They work hard getting a guy in motion, trying to get out out-flanked. That's when they'll try to get the ball to the sideline."

So far in 2002 the Tide defense is giving up only 80 yards per game on the ground, but the Mean Green will present a new look. Torbush explained, "They'll be totally different from our last two opponents. They'll get into a lot of power-running football formations. They'll normally have at least one tight end, sometimes two, and sometimes two tight ends and two running backs. They're more similar to a Tennessee or Ole Miss as far as the power-running game."

Senior Kevin Galbreath will be the North Texas bell cow. Keying on him the whole game, the Longhorns held him mostly in check. But Galbreath broke out for 144 yards and two touchdowns versus Nicholls State. Torbush commented, "They've got a running back Galbreath, who was all-conference and a thousand-yard rusher last year. On the offensive line, their right guard and tackle were both all-conference.

"I think this will be a physical ball game. One in which we're definitely going to have to stop the run."

North Texas is obviously a run-the-ball-first team, but Torbush respects their passing game as well. "A lot of their passing is based on play action, the bootleg and keyed off their running game. They're going to roll the pocket, so they don't ask their linemen to beat the pressure all the time. They run bootlegs and roll-type passes, trying to keep from getting in a sack situation."

When North Texas does pass, there are weapons available. "Their wide receiver (George Marshall) looks to have outstanding speed," Torbush said. "He's a guy they like to go to. They've got two tight ends that run very well and catch the football. They run routes, block well and catch."

An inexperienced sophomore played most of the game for North Texas versus Nicholls State, but Torbush expects to see the starting quarterback this Saturday. "I think (Scott) Hall was banged up that first week. They say he's questionable this week, but I feel sure he'll play. He's a good field leader. He keeps them out of bad plays. He does a good job of throwing the ball on the run and on the roll-out pass. They do a good job of getting him outside the pocket. I don't think there is any doubt we'll see him.

North Texas quarterback Scott Hall, right, hands off to running back Kevin Galbreath, left. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)

"Their back-up (Andrew Smith) is an athletic guy, but there is no doubt in my mind that if Hall is healthy then he'll be in the ball game."

Interestingly, even in long-yardage situations North Texas refuses to stray from its basic offense. "They probably will run more on third-and-long than most teams do," Torbush related. "They've got a good scheme. They know what they're trying to set up. Even on third and long, they will run the football. You've got to be more cautious with them on third downs than you do with other people.

"A lot of people on third and medium or long, it's 100 percent pass. These guys are about 40 percent run."

With six out of seven starters returning in its front group, Alabama certainly appears to be set to stop a run-oriented attack. But Torbush isn't taking anything for granted. "I don't know how we'll match up," he stated. "We haven't seen a team like this. Even though we stopped the run so far, both those teams ran it from different angles. This is different.

"(North Texas) is going to try to get as many people in the box as they can. They'll be very satisfied with 3.5 yards per attempt. Get that; move the chains and keep the clock running."

Torbush summed up the challenge facing the Tide defense. "Our players must understand that (North Texas) is going to have some four- and five-yard gains. It's not going to be a game with a lot of sacks, because they don't put themselves in that situation.

"We're going to have to show a lot of patience defensively, and understand that the name of the game is getting off the field. To do that we're going to have to make key plays on third down, especially third-and-two situations."


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