Air Raid Saturday At Fouts Field

North Texas hosts their first home game of the 2007 season against the Florida Atlantic Owls. Game time is at 6PM on September 22nd, 2007 at Fouts Field. This game also marks the first Sunbelt Conference game for Coach Todd Dodge and the Mean Green.

To say this weekend's match-up between North Texas and Florida Atlantic will have some offensive firepower would be quite an understatement.

North Texas piled up 613 yards of offense in a 45-31 loss to the SMU Mustangs, while Florida Atlantic had 580 yards of offense in a 42-39 victory over Minnesota.

Both teams will definitely provide plenty of fireworks in Coach Todd Dodge's inaugural Sunbelt Conference game. The Owls already hold their place atop the standings as they defeated the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders in their season opener.

Coach Dodge feels that his team is getting better every week and also said that he is improving as a coach adding, "If I'm going to ask my team to improve, I should always be trying to improve myself".

North Texas spent much of their off-week working on their defense, making sure they spent time on tackling in the open field and trying to make sure all their schemes were working properly. North Texas is hoping to improve as they are currently last in scoring defense and total defense. The Owls will surely present a challenge as they are averaging 398 yards per game, with 277 per game coming through the air, where North Texas has struggled this year. Quarterback Rusty Smith, a sophomore, has gone 53-of-93 for 783 yards with 7 touchdowns and only one interception in three games this season, including 463 in their game last week. Smith has multiple targets including junior tight end Jason Harmon who had 5 catches for 104 yards in the Owls win against Minnesota.

While fans shouldn't expect a 600 yard output by quarterback Daniel Meager every week, we can expect to see a very flashy offense that will take whatever the defense gives them. Jamario Thomas, who didn't play against SMU due to a leg injury, is expected to be back in the starting role this Saturday, hoping to revitalize the rushing attack which is averaging only 27 yards a game. However, the Mean Green will need to keep an eye out for Frantz Joseph, a junior linebacker who is on the Butkus Award watch list and has recorded 30 tackles in three games this season. Joseph anchors the Owls defensive unit, which ranks second in the Sunbelt Conference in total defense and should present a problem as they also boast the Sunbelt Conference's Defensive Player of the Week, in cornerback Tavious Polo, who recorded seven tackles and three interceptions against Minnesota last week.

On Special Teams North Texas has shown some stellar work between Thomas Moreland who hasn't missed an extra point or field goal attempt this year, and Truman Spencer, who has punted 14 times for an average of 42 yards. Spencer has also been placed on the "Watch List" for the Ray Guy Award, which goes to the nation's top punter, and has even booted a career best 73 yard punt this year.

North Texas comes into the game this year 0-3 versus the Owls all-time after losing 17-16 last year in a game marred by turnovers on the Mean Green side of the ball. Florida Atlantic is a team on the rise under Coach Howard Schnellenberger. Last week, FAU recorded what many are calling the biggest victory in the school's short history when they beat their first BCS Conference team, Minnesota.

Coach Dodge comes into this weekend's game hoping to have a homefield advantage and hopes to encourage fans to, "Come and enjoy the great atmosphere, the tailgating at Fouts Field, and come watch an exciting football team play". Dodge hopes to inspire all of the alumni and current students to attend all home football games as he builds his program.

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