The Mean Green lost to Texas in their opening game, but over the last six quarters their defense has not given up a point. "They did a good job on Texas," Franchione said. "Texas ran back a couple of punts that ended up giving them field position on the North Texas side of the 50-yardline. (North Texas) only gave up 37 yards in the second half, 28 yards rushing, (and they got) eight quarterback sacks."
Alabama hosts the North Texas Mean Green this Saturday at 6 p.m. CDT in Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The only telecast of the game will be on a Pay-Per-View basis on cable and satellite.
On offense North Texas likes to run the football, but they are not entirely predictable. Franchione explained, "They use multiple formations. They don't spread the field like MTSU did. They're more of a running and play-action team. They can run some option. The fact that our defense goes against our offense won't hurt."
North Texas Head Coach Darrell Dickey and Franchione are long-time friends, and the two often share ideas about coaching. "Down through the years he has had some similarities to us," Franchione said. "We have visited a lot. When he got the job as head coach he came to Fort Worth and we spent a day or two together. We exchanged thoughts about building a program and offense."
But don't think their friendship will have any bearing on the game. "Once the game starts, Darrell has got to coach his team, and I've got to coach my team," Franchione said. "That won't be a part of this game. His team will play hard and he'll coach hard, and when the game is over we're going to go on."
Under Darrell Dickey North Texas has slowly progressed, playing to its strengths and making sure they don't beat themselves. "This will be a hard fought game," Franchione said. "They're going to play a patient, deliberate game. We played them in '99, and it was a workmanlike job all day long. They have a sound plan and execute it very well. This team has 20 starters back from a team that went to a bowl last year. They play a tough schedule."
Franchione was pleased with today's practice, and indeed he's been happy with the way his squad has practiced all year. He explained, "One thing I like about the way things have gone the last couple of weeks is that Tuesdays are grinding days, and they've ground through it. Then Wednesday they get a little life back. That's natural, having played the game on Saturday. Both the last two weeks our practices have gotten progressively better, which they should. Last year at this time we were up and down during the week. This year we're much more consistent."
Franchione said he understood that fans were interested in any possible changes on the team's depth chart, but that no decision would be made until Friday morning. There has been much speculation that either Anthony Madison or Charley Peprah (or both) would take over at cornerback, but with that timetable fans aren't likely to find out until game day.
During the Oklahoma game, relatively few back-ups saw much if any game action. In fact all five starting O-Linemen played 82 snaps. But Franchione hopes this Saturday will be different. "We hope that the tempo and game situations will allow us to substitute," he said. "We'll hope to get people in there at other positions."
Franchione cited several substitute linemen as playing well. "The second D-Line, I think we're pleased with all them. Whether you put Nautyn (McKay-Loescher) or Antwan (Odom) as starters is immaterial. We consider both those guys starters. Anthony Bryant, Leslie (Williams), Ahmaad Childress, Todd Bates---I don't know if they're ready to be 55-60 plays a game guys, but we like the way they're working right now.
"Dennis Alexander and Lannis Baxley are the two that jump out on the offensive line. Matt Lomax and Danny Martz would probably be the next two."
As the third game on the schedule, Saturday will be the last time an athlete could play and still be eligible for a medical redshirt. Two senior offensive players, Antonio Carter and Atlas Herrion, have been notable by their absence in the first two games. If neither plays versus North Texas, both would obviously be prime candidates to redshirt.