Every Thursday at AllHoosiers.com we will have a scouting report on the team that Indiana will face that week in the form of a Q&A with a beat writer from that team.
For Saturday’s fifth game of the season against North Texas, Brett Vito, of the Denton (Texas) Record-Chronicle has graciously accepted my invitation to talk the Mean Green by answering the following five questions.
You can catch all of Brett’s work at Denton Record-Chronicle Sports .
Here is our fifth Scouting the Opponent Q&A with an opposing beat writer.
1. Indiana fans know very little about North Texas. One thing that I found interesting was the offense ranked last in FBS before the Nicholls game but then had a breakout game, scoring 77 points and putting up big yardage. How much of that was North Texas making a step forward and how much was it the level of competition with Nicholls?
VITO: “My gut feeling is that like with a lot of situations similar to this one, it was a combination of both. UNT played a lot better than it had earlier in the season, largely because of the switch the Mean Green made at quarterback. Redshirt freshman Dajon Williams gives UNT a whole new look with a dual-threat player under center. Williams has the running ability that Josh Greer doesn’t and can also throw the ball on the run. With that being said, there is also no question that Nicholls State is terrible. UNT would have looked better than it had earlier in the year no matter who it had back there in its last outing. UNT’s game against Indiana will be telling and will let the Mean Green know where they stand in terms of their progress offensively.’’
2. On the depth chart the quarterbacks are listed as if any of the three could be the starter. Has that been a platoon system of sorts or is Dajon Williams the starter and it goes from there? How has North Texas used its quarterbacks to this point?
VITO: “UNT coach Dan McCarney is not a big believer in rotating quarterbacks. Williams will start every game the rest of the season unless something goes wrong. And I mean really, really wrong – like Williams gets hurt or falls flat on his face – wrong. The decision to go with Williams was not one UNT made on a whim. The Mean Green waited until they were down 42-7 at home in a conference game they went on to lose to Louisiana Tech before making a switch. And even then, UNT’s coaches discussed it a bit before deciding to stick with Williams going forward. Greer was in there full time up until that point.’’
3. I saw where you may have written that North Texas had to replace six of its seven starters in the defensive front seven and yet that group has been really good, especially against the run. Who are some of the people that have been surprises up front which may be big reasons why the D has been so solid?
VITO: “One guy who has been really good who I wrote a feature story on a while back is Chad Polk. He is starting at defensive end, despite being just 6-feet tall and 231 pounds. Polk came to UNT as a linebacker before the coaching staff decided he would never make it at that position. He was a hybrid rush end in high school and has returned to his roots. He has 4.5 sacks already and ran right around SMU tackle Chris Weeks before causing a fumble while recording a sack earlier this season. The real reason for UNT’s success, though is a steady rotation of pretty decent players. UNT doesn’t have a big-time star it rolls out there and leaves out there. McCarney, defensive coordinator John Skladany and defensive line coach Kevin Patrick just keep sending out a bunch of guys with some talent who overcome being a little small or a little slow compared with the guys they are playing by playing all out every play. That is easier to do when a guy is only going to have to play 20 snaps a game.’’
4. How much do you think it helps the Mean Green that it was just only three years ago that Indiana came down there and UT came away with a 24-21 victory? At the very least it has to make UT feel as if it can play with this particular Big Ten program, wouldn't you think?
VITO: “I can see why that last game against Indiana would come up, but three years is forever in college football. The guys who were stars on that team are all long gone. If my records are right, UNT has just three guys who started in that game still in the lineup – offensive linemen Antonio Johnson, Mason Y’Barbo and Cyril Lemon. There are some other guys who were at least on the roster and will remember that game, but to be perfectly honest, I think the bigger factor for UNT is all the other games against major conference teams the Mean Green have played since then they can look to as an indication they can compete against Indiana. UNT was tied up with Georgia in the third quarter in Athens last year and was in a tight game with Kansas State two years ago, when the Mean Green also played at LSU. Those games are ones guys on this team played in and remember.’’
5. Finally, we always ask for opposing publishers and beat writers to weigh in with their game prediction. Myself I think it could be a pretty good game though I expect Indiana to win. How do you think this one will play out?
VITO: “I write a prediction blog that comes out later in the week, so I will save my exact call in terms of who will win and a score until then, but I agree that this should be a pretty good game. UNT fans expect the Mean Green’s offense to continue to roll unimpeded with Williams under center. I think that is overly optimistic, especially against a Big Ten opponent that will have time to prepare for him. UNT will put some points up, but so will Indiana. The Mean Green have also struggled on the road at times like most teams do. Texas stomped UNT in Austin earlier this year. I expect a close game.’’
Again, thanks to Brett Vito for sharing his expertise today with us at AllHoosiers.com.Video: OC Kevin Johns previews North Texas
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