Scouting The Opponent: North Texas

In our weekly Scouting the Opponent feature, get a primer on Indiana’s opponent before the game. North Texas comes with a stout defense, and could cause for a rough day for the Hoosier running game. See all the strengths and weaknesses of the Mean Green, and how they match up with IU.

North Texas Mean Green

Record: 2-2

Key Players:

QB – No. 6 Dajon Williams, 6-3, 202 lbs., f-Fr., Pflugerville, Texas, 16-of-21 passing, 274 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 9 rush attempts, 92 yards, 2 touchdowns

Williams came off the bench against Louisiana Tech to throw two late touchdowns in a 42-21 loss, which resulted in an opportunity to make his first career start the following week against Nicholls State. The redshirt freshman shined, throwing for 176 yards and three touchdowns on 11-of-14 passing in a 77-3 rout. The dual-threat quarterback also led the team in rushing against Nicholls State with 68 yards and two touchdowns on only four carries. He displayed his playmaking ability with a 55-yard run to set up 14-yard touchdown pass a couple of plays later. Williams showed the ability to escape the pocket and make plays on his feet. He is the most athletic quarterback Indiana has faced this season, so it will be a challenge for the defensive line to keep him in the pocket on Saturday.

RB – No. 2 Reggie Pegram, 5-9, 230 lbs., r-Sr., Terrell, Texas, 51 rush attempts, 214 yards, 3 touchdowns, 3 receptions, -1 yards

The North Texas offense isn’t very high powered, but its center piece is the running game. Pegram leads the team in attempts and yardage, and he is a big, tough runner. At 230 lbs., the former Purdue Boilermaker won’t go down easily, but he doesn’t have the speed to beat anybody on foot. With the open-field tackling issues that the Indiana defense has had in the past, Pegram could be in for a big game Saturday.

WR – No. 9 Carlos Harris, 5-8, 183 lbs., Jr., Frisco, Texas, 13 receptions, 142 yards, 1 touchdown, 4 rush attempts, 75 yards, 4.7 yards per punt return, 24.8 yards per kick return

Harris does it all. He leads the team in all-purpose yards, racking up more than double the amount of yards than anyone else on the team. He’s an exciting player to watch, and the biggest threat to score on the North Texas offense. He plays a very similar game in Indiana’s Shane Wynn, and they will have Harris all over the field, out wide, in the slot, even possibly a few snaps in the backfield. Harris has led the Mean Green in receptions every game this season, and there is no sign of that changing any time soon.

LB – No. 7 Derek Akunne, 6-0, 242, r-Sr., Dallas, Texas, 20 tackles, 10 solo, 2 tackles for a loss, 1 pass breakup, 1 QB Hurry, 1 forced fumble

Akunne ties for most tackles on the team this year, a season after being named to the all-conference honorable mention after recording 90 tackles. Akunne is the leader of the ferocious, attacking defense of the Mean Green, which surrenders less than 90 rushing yards per game. The defensive captain is the vocal leader, as well as the exemplary leader, and you will see him fly around the field and make stops. He is the biggest threat to Tevin Coleman and the IU run game.

DE – No. 42 Chad Polk, 6-0, 231 lbs., r-Jr., Dallas, Texas, 12 tackles, 7 solo, 4.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 deflected pass

Polk leads the Mean Green defense in sacks this season with 4.5, which is already more than his three from last season. The bulk of his game is in the pass rush, however he will still stretch out run plays to allow linebackers to get to running backs. Polk understands how to get to the quarterback though, and is good at stripping the ball loose. His forced fumble against SMU was returned for a touchdown, and he will be looking to jar another ball loose on Saturday.

Key Win

North Texas 43, SMU 6: In the second game of the season, North Texas rolled over fellow Texas school, Southern Methodist. While SMU isn’t exactly a good team this year, any time one non-power conference team can dominate another, it’s a good win. In fact, it was such a dominating win that SMU’s only score came against North Texas’ backup defense on the last play of the game. The most impressive part of the game was North Texas’ defense, who allowed only 10 rushing yards in addition to a combination of quarterbacks completing a mere 24-of-45 passing attempts, while also forcing five turnovers.

Head Coach: Dan McCarney

McCarney is in this fourth season as the North Texas head coach with an overall record of 20-21. Last season saw success for the Mean Green, as they finished the regular season 8-4, earning them a bid to the Heart of Dallas Bowl on New Year’s Day, where they defeated UNLV, 36-14. It was McCarney’s first bowl appearance as a head coach since 2005, when he was with the Iowa State Cyclones. McCarney served as the Iowa State head coach from 1995-2006, where he saw moderate success and left as the winningest coach in school history. The only season he finished with a ranking came in 2000, when the Cyclones went 9-3 and finished as the No. 25 team in the country. Since leaving Iowa State, McCarney served as the defensive line coach for the Florida Gators from 2008-2010, winning a national championship in his first season there. As the Gators’ defensive line coach, McCarney produced two NFL draft picks in Carlos Dunlap and Jermaine Cunningham.

Team Stats

IU – North Texas

Points/Game: 29.0 – 37.0

Points Allowed/Game: 29.8 -22.2

Total Offense Avg.: 493.2 – 313.0

Pass Yards Avg.: 209.0 – 125.0

Rushing Yards Avg.: 284.2 – 188.0

Total Defense Avg.: 430.8 – 307.8

Passing Defense Avg.: 305.5 – 220.5

Rushing Defense Avg.: 125.2 – 87.2

Last Meeting Between These Teams

Indiana, 21, North Texas 24, Sept. 24, 2011 in Denton, Texas

In what was an awful one-win season for the Hoosiers in Kevin Wilson’s first year as head coach, Indiana fell to a North Texas team that finished the season 5-7. North Texas took a 21-0 halftime lead behind running back Lance Dunbar. Dunbar would finish with 279 all-purpose yards in the win, as Indiana didn’t have a single answer for him. Down 24-0 in the fourth, Indiana safety Mark Murphy intercepted a pass for a touchdown to finally get things rolling for the Hoosiers. It was too little too late, however, as Indiana wasn’t able to have enough possessions to earn a win. Since that game, both teams have improved, and North Texas even earned a bid to the Heart of Dallas Bowl on New Year’s Day in last season.

Offensive Style

North Texas shows a fairly balanced attack with its pro-style offense. They have different types weapons on the field, some power, some speed and some a mixture of both. In the running game, they are going to pound the ball up the middle with the 230-pound RB Reggie Pegram, then get it out to speeder guys, like WR Carlos Harris and RB Erick Evans, to make the big plays. New quarterback Dajon Williams brings the ability to run with the ball, so Indiana could have their hands full trying to keep him from leaving the pocket.

Key Matchup: Indiana run game vs. North Texas run defense

Indiana’s offense has been completely reliant on Tevin Coleman and the running game. The line has been able to open up holes for both Coleman and senior D’Angelo Roberts all season, however the Mean Green defense has lived up to the word “mean” in their nickname. They ferociously attack ball carriers, only allowing 87.2 rushing yards per game. The key to Saturday’s game for the Hoosiers will be getting Coleman past the second level and into the open field, where he is at his best.

What They’re Saying

Head Coach Kevin Wilson:

“North Texas is coming in 2-2, bowl team a year ago, nine wins, bowl victory a year ago. Played this year at Texas, last year at Georgia, hey played some quality teams year after year. They won't be impressed walking in here with us or this arena. They're not used to being in it. A lot of those kids -- I think they have the most kids on any team in the country from the state of Texas, which is great football, their kids play fast, very athletic and active, they play very, very hard, very physical, well coached. New quarterback playing for them, Dajon Williams, who came in the last -- they got Louisiana Tech, a Thursday night game, two and a half weeks ago, played well and got up 42-0 or 7 on them, and Williams came in and played the fourth quarter and since then played one game; they've had an open date. Since he played, his rating at quarterback is 232, he' 16 of 21 for 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions, and he they have scored 98 points in five quarters. What's their number for the year, 148, so they scored 50 and the rest of those he got them rolling. They use run/pass threats, different but some of the same stuff we saw with Maryland's quarterbacks, so really playing some unique offense and coming into an open date they've got an open date this week, so they got two weeks to get prepared for us. Their defense is aggressive, attacking defense, very, very physical. They are giving up 80 yards a game, rush defense one of the best in the country, always a style of Coach Skladany their "D" coordinator and Coach McCarney, who is a defensive coach. Every player in their two-deep has a sack. We have 7 sacks for the year, they have 18 for the year, 17 or 18. Very good in turnovers. So against a Coach McCarney team. I know we had an opportunity to play them a couple of years ago, and when I looked at the scoreboard and it was 24-0 and we were getting our butts waxed. So it will be a tough team, expect a good challenges, expect our guys to have a food week, expect us to play hard, look forward to a great game Saturday at 2:30 with these guys.

On game planning for North Texas:

“Every -- by trying to -- what their mathematical numbers are and schemes are to get the box loaded, whether it be by pressure, or edge back or in safety alignments, corner support structures, to get the extra hats, that's where every defense tries to start every week. They have great eye discipline, where when you do that your players that are responsible for covering receivers, need to keep your eyes on the receiver because we're going to cheat and put halfway backers and safeties committed to run. That being said if you're responsible for receiver you make sure he doesn't beat you so they don't give up a lot of big plays to commit to the run, a sign of a good defense. 4-3 structure, they pick their spots how they want to pressure out of it, but it's just a very, very -- I think their best defensive end is 230 pounds, but he is active, plays hard. It's the time of program that Coach McCarney has had. "I think he was the winningest Coach in Iowa State history, or one of him. He's coached a number of years, very successful. His guys are going to play hard. Coach Skladany, he's been a lot of places, great defensive coach. It's structure, it's attitude, it's quick guys, but, again, when the box gets loaded you gotta make one-on-one plays. They got some guys that can play one-on-one defense. They got four guys off their defense a year ago from pro camps. So they've got some active guys. Got a guy playing for the Cowboys last night that's a North Texas guy, we played against a couple of years ago. So they got some really good guys, trust me.”

Offensive Coordinator Kevin Johns:

“When you look at the film, when you look at the numbers, they do just a phenomenal job on defense. Not only in defending the run, but the pass as well. They’re going to challenge every single play and every single throw. Our perimeter guys are going to have to show up and make some plays in space.

“I think you have to find ways to get the ball on the perimeter, get the ball in space, you’ve got to find different ways to run the ball. They’re going to make it really tough. I think they’re giving up 85 yards a game rushing, something ridiculous. And they’ve been doing it a long time, they’re very well coached. It’s going to be tough.”

Defensive Coordinator Brian Knorr:

“The challenge that North Texas presents is having an off week. They are very multiple offense, a very young talented quarterback that can present some threats from running the football and has been proficient when he came in against Louisiana Tech, and the last game he played a little bit against Nicholls State, was a very athletic quarterback. There are always challenges knowing what you are going to have to prepare for after an off week.

“We are going to see a lot of things we haven’t seen a lot this year, as far as quarterback runs. Some different scheme-wise, as far as personnel on the field, we’ll see against North Texas that maybe we haven’t seen this year. So it will be challenging mentally for our kids.”

C Collin Rahrig

“The intensity really need to ramp up for this Saturday. Practices have been good, but for some reason it just didn’t transfer over to (Maryland) like it did against Missouri. We need to be able to run the ball, I mean that’s the biggest thing. We have one hell of a back with Tevin, and we want to get it into his hands and give him open space and let him run with it.”

DT Darius Latham

“Studying North Texas, they’ve got a new quarterback that’s supposed to be a mobile quarterback. So we got to just get back, keep doing what we’re doing, and just get better every day. They’re isn’t going to be anything different, just need to make sure when we’re rushing on the D-Line, keep him caged in, keep the rushing lanes so he won’t be able to move around.”

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