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The big 2015 North Texas football guide: Mean Green pick up the pieces

The 128-team countdown celebrates St. Patrick's Day by looking into the country's greenest program.

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.

1. Winning's hard

McCarney lifting a monstrosity of a Heart of Dallas trophy a couple of months after almost winning Conference USA in the team's first attempt wasn't the high point. But it was the highest point in a while, the completion of a comeback suffered endless false starts.

And now comes the hard part. Succeeding isn't easy, but a lot of programs do it. Succeeding again takes something different, and McCarney knows it.

McCarney has a new contract, some new assistant coaches, and a roster that is deep with options and thin on experience. It might be unreasonable to expect North Texas to win nine games again in 2013, but the depth of the fall will be telling.

So ... the depth of the fall was pretty significant.

A year after winning nine games and putting one of the best mid-major products onto the field, Dan McCarney was tasked with replacing his quarterback, his leading rusher, his two leading receivers (and starting tight end), six members of his defensive front seven, a stud free safety, and one of the best return men in the country. He boasted what was expected to be a good offensive line, a good punter, and ... mysteries.

He didn't solve many. He went through three quarterbacks before he found one who could complete 50 percent without turnovers. He never really found a running back. He found a receiver, but he didn't have a quarterback to get Carlos Harris the ball. His offensive line more or less fell apart. His defense fell apart because of both inconsistency and injury. His defensive coordinator retired.

Building a winner is hard, and no program understands that better than North Texas.

The Mean Green went 18-4 in 1977-78 under Hayden Fry, lost Fry to Iowa, fell to 2-9, and dropped out of the Division I-A ranks. They came back in 1995 and proceeded to go 19-47 over six seasons before breaking through under Darrell Dickey and winning four consecutive Sun Belt titles. And as quickly as it came together, it fell apart. After winning 24 games from 2002-04, North Texas won 13 from 2005-10. McCarney took over after the disastrous Todd Dodge era, won nine games in his first two years, then won nine in his third. And again, it fell apart.

If 2014 was about the depth of the fall, 2015 is about the ferocity of the rebound. With all the experience they didn't have, the Mean Green should bounce back from last year's No. 125 F/+ ranking, but by how much? Five spots? Twenty? McCarney has options on offense and injury-related depth, but we'll find out how much actual talent his roster has.

2014 Schedule & Results

Record: 4-8 | Adj. Record: 3-9 | Final F/+ Rk: 125
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Adj. Scoring
Margin
Win
Expectancy
30-Aug at Texas 53 7-38 L 0% -64.5 0%
6-Sep SMU 127 43-6 W 46% -2.3 100%
11-Sep Louisiana Tech 35 21-42 L 4% -42.2 0%
20-Sep Nicholls State N/A 77-3 W 90% 29.4 100%
4-Oct at Indiana 88 24-49 L 1% -54.8 0%
11-Oct at UAB 79 21-56 L 2% -49.8 0%
18-Oct Southern Miss 110 20-30 L 10% -29.8 38%
25-Oct at Rice 86 21-41 L 8% -33.1 3%
8-Nov Florida Atlantic 100 31-10 W 67% 10.0 100%
15-Nov at UTEP 90 17-35 L 0% -65.0 0%
22-Nov Florida International 96 17-14 W 79% 19.0 100%
29-Nov at UTSA 109 27-34 L 5% -39.3 5%

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 15.1 126 35.6 110
Points Per Game 27.2 79 29.8 86

2. Worst road team (or best home team) ever

Home-field advantage is a more complicated term than we realize. We tend to say teams like Alabama or Oklahoma or Oregon have great home-field advantages, but those are typically also great road teams. They don't get much of a home-town bump because they're usually excellent anywhere.

In an old ESPN Insider piece I wrote in 2009, I ignored the idea of an "advantage" and focused on teams that perform most different home and away. In the 2000s, that meant a team like Texas Tech that was 15 points better at home. Using adjusted scoring margin above, North Texas was around minus-2.7 points per game at home and minus-51.1 on the road. That's drastic.

  • Average Percentile Performance (6 home games): 49% (record: 4-2)
  • Average Percentile Performance (6 road games): 3% (record: 0-6)

At home, UNT was decent. The Mean Green handled SMU, FAU, and FIU as one should and destroyed an obviously bad Nicholls State. There were hiccups against Southern Miss and, to a degree, Louisiana Tech, but North Texas didn't look like the fourth-worst team in the country.

On the road, UNT was perhaps No. 128 out of 128. The Mean Green gained 94 yards at Texas, allowed 593 at Indiana, and allowed 452 (7.3 per play) at UTSA. They were outgained by 205 yards at Rice and by 237 yards at UTEP. By keeping the tempo down, they prevented themselves from losing games by 40 points, but they still lost by at least 18 in five of six games, and while they were able to hang with UTSA ... UTSA wasn't good.

North Texas was just about the worst road team imaginable. We'll see if experience can change that.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.78 103 IsoPPP+ 68.9 125
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 34.7% 125 Succ. Rt. + 86.0 118
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 29.2 58 Def. FP+ 100.0 65
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.5 60 Redzone S&P+ 92.3 89
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 21.8 ACTUAL 22 +0.2
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 117 123 118 125
RUSHING 79 122 123 119
PASSING 111 123 105 125
Standard Downs 121 108 121
Passing Downs 126 117 127
Q1 Rk 88 1st Down Rk 118
Q2 Rk 118 2nd Down Rk 107
Q3 Rk 110 3rd Down Rk 119
Q4 Rk 81

3. Wanted (desperately): big plays

The identity remained mostly the same. After rushing 65 percent of the time on standard downs in 2013, the Mean Green rushed 66 percent in 2014. On passing downs, they moved up slightly, from rushing 32 percent of the time to 35. They did a lot more rushing when down big, and they operated at a slower pace; both of these suggest they were trying to keep morale up and lose by as little as possible during the bad performances.

But without Derek Thompson at quarterback (7.1 yards per attempt, 64 percent completion rate in 2013), without Brandin Byrd in the backfield (1,075 yards, 6.2 highlight yards per opportunity in 2013), and without Brelan Chancellor and Darnell Smith at receiver (1,583 receiving yards, 8.8 per target in 2013), there was no chance of being what they were the year before. North Texas didn't have a ton of big play potential in 2013, but the Mean Green made up for it with extreme efficiency. Without the players above, they became even less likely to break a big play, and they lost any semblance of big-play ability they had.

When healthy, running back Antoinne Jimmerson might have a little bit of game-breaker ability. When quarterbacks Andrew McNulty and Dajon Williams break out of the backfield, they get pretty far upfield. And if he has a decent battery mate, receiver Carlos Harris (12.3 yards per catch, 63 percent catch rate) brings a solid mix of efficiency and big-play potential to the table. But these players' big-play opportunities were too heavily limited to figure out their ceilings.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2015 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Andrew McNulty 6'1, 209 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7000 110 202 1295 6 7 54.5% 11 5.2% 5.6
Dajon Williams 6'3, 202 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7500 46 77 607 7 4 59.7% 9 10.5% 6.3
Josh Greer 6'5, 220 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7793 24 50 171 0 2 48.0% 4 7.4% 2.4
Connor Means 6'4, 210 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7917
DaMarcus Smith 6'1, 205 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8033
Caleb Chumley 6'5, 245 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8457

4. Pick a quarterback, any quarterback

I called Mike Canales' offensive system "QB friendly" in last year's preview. Canales runs more frequently than the national average and gives his quarterbacks opportunities for easy horizontal throws. It is an efficiency-based system, and it can work. But we found "QB friendly" doesn't guarantee good quarterback play.

JUCO transfer Josh Greer won the starting job but completed a horrendous 15 of 38 against Texas and Louisiana Tech and surrendered his job to dual-threat Dajon Williams. Williams torched Nicholls State (11-for-14 for 176 yards, plus four carries for 68 yards) but threw four picks against Indiana and UAB, got benched, and spent quite a bit of the rest of the year in the doghouse.

After apparent hesitation, McCarney and Canales gave the job to 2013 backup Andrew McNulty, who showed upside amid inconsistency. He was 29-for-49 (59 percent) against UAB and Southern Miss but 15-for-33 (45 percent) against Rice, 12-for-16 against FAU and 9-for-20 against FIU.

McNulty enters as an unsafe incumbent. The senior is competent, but Williams appears to have more upside if he can keep from turning the ball over, and newcomers like redshirt freshman Connor Means, JUCO transfer DaMarcus Smith, and big, athletic freshman Caleb Chumley will certainly be given the opportunity to unseat him.

An efficiency offense is fine if you can keep your completion percentage in the 60s. UNT didn't even come close.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Reggie Pegram RB
145 529 5 3.6 3.7 30.3% 0 0
Antoinne Jimmerson RB 5'9, 222 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7000 121 589 5 4.9 5.2 35.5% 2 0
Jeffrey Wilson RB 6'0, 190 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7678 50 224 1 4.5 3.0 38.0% 3 0
Andrew McNulty QB 6'1, 209 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7000 31 160 2 5.2 8.9 25.8% 0 0
Dajon Williams QB 6'3, 202 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7500 30 194 2 6.5 7.5 46.7% 2 2
Erick Evans RB 5'9, 187 So. NR NR 24 204 3 8.5 6.9 62.5% 1 1
Jarrod Lynn FB 6'0, 250 Sr. NR NR 12 46 1 3.8 1.5 25.0% 0 0
Carlos Harris WR 5'8, 183 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000 9 92 1 10.2 16.1 44.4% 1 1
Andrew Tucker RB 6'0, 201 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8200 8 44 0 5.5 5.0 37.5% 0 0
Willy Ivery RB 5'9, 180 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8115 7 -5 0 -0.7 N/A 0.0% 1 1
Josh Greer QB 6'5, 220 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7793 6 1 1 0.2 1.9 16.7% 3 0

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Carlos Harris WR 5'8, 183 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000 112 70 863 62.5% 36.0% 47.3% 7.7 12 7.7 93.2
Darius Terrell WR
45 26 301 57.8% 14.5% 44.4% 6.7 -20 6.6 32.5
Darvin Kidsy WR 6'0, 182 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7730 30 15 148 50.0% 9.6% 53.3% 4.9 -43 5.0 16.0
Marcus Smith TE 6'4, 247 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) NR 28 16 248 57.1% 9.0% 60.7% 8.9 50 9.0 26.8
Turner Smiley WR 6'0, 185 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7400 26 14 195 53.8% 8.4% 61.5% 7.5 20 7.8 21.0
Carl Caldwell WR
26 13 129 50.0% 8.4% 46.2% 5.0 -37 4.9 13.9
Reggie Pegram RB
14 8 3 57.1% 4.5% 50.0% 0.2 -96 0.2 0.3
Antoinne Jimmerson RB 5'9, 222 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7000 9 5 66 55.6% 2.9% 44.4% 7.3 4 8.6 7.1
John Chelf WR
6 5 58 83.3% 1.9% 16.7% 9.7 0 9.8 6.3
Jeffrey Wilson RB 6'0, 190 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7678 6 5 41 83.3% 1.9% 50.0% 6.8 -17 7.4 4.4
Tanner Smith TE
3 2 9 66.7% 1.0% 100.0% 3.0 -15 N/A 1.0
Chris Loving TE 6'4, 247 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7700 3 1 8 33.3% 1.0% 66.7% 2.7 -6 2.3 0.9
Willy Ivery RB 5'9, 180 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8115 1 1 14 100.0% 0.3% 0.0% 14.0 3 N/A 1.5
Tee Goree WR 6'3, 170 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8248
Thaddeous Thompson WR 6'2, 197 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7800
Kevin Dillman TE 6'4, 245 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8520
D'Aundrey Bradley WR 6'2, 177 Fr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8253
Rodney Bendy WR 6'5, 187 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7979

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 79.3 2.49 2.37 34.9% 82.9% 21.5% 112.1 3.4% 7.6%
Rank 123 115 122 104 1 98 50 31 69
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Career Starts Honors/Notes
Cyril Lemon RT 49 2014 1st All-CUSA
Mason Y'Barbo LG
49
Antonio Johnson LT
44
Kaydon Kirby C 6'3, 329 Jr. NR NR 25
Shawn McKinney RG
14
Ryan Rentfro LT 6'4, 313 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7552 1
Michael Banogu LT 6'5, 282 Sr. NR
1
Travis Ellard LG
0
Micah Thompson RG 6'4, 310 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000 0
Dominick Walker OL 6'5, 299 So. 2 stars (5.4) NR 0
Harrison Sorge OL 6'5, 305 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7652 0
Aderius Epps
(Kansas State)
OL 6'1, 311 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8438 0
Sam Rice
(SMU)
OL 6'4, 302 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8012 0
Brian Ochs OL 6'3, 303 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7683 0
Creighton Barr OL 6'3, 296 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8081

5. Starting over up front

In theory, having competition should produce a solid starter. Jimmerson can be a solid runner, Carlos Harris is a proven entity, Jeffrey Wilson rushed for 105 yards in the season finale, and quite a few young receivers could provide a nice threat. With a few "ifs" and "coulds," you can create a good set of skill players.

But even if that is solved, UNT has something to prove up front. Last year's line featured three three-year starters and a second-year starting center, and it still produced awful stats, in part because of the players behind it. But now the Mean Green must replace four starters who combined for 156 career starts. Center Kaydon Kirby is back, Ryan Rentfro and Michael Banogu have been part of the rotation recently, and ... that's it.

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.88 81 IsoPPP+ 76.7 122
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 43.8% 94 Succ. Rt. + 82.9 123
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 30.6 59 Off. FP+ 96.0 110
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.8 107 Redzone S&P+ 76.7 128
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 19.1 ACTUAL 22.0 +2.9
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 43 123 123 122
RUSHING 58 123 124 119
PASSING 35 119 117 119
Standard Downs 128 126 125
Passing Downs 104 110 94
Q1 Rk 112 1st Down Rk 108
Q2 Rk 123 2nd Down Rk 124
Q3 Rk 127 3rd Down Rk 76
Q4 Rk 21

6. Aggressive and undermanned

More from last year:

North Texas had one of the most efficient mid-major defenses in the country. The Mean Green logged 79 tackles for loss, 39 sacks, and 17 forced fumbles. (They blocked seven kicks, as well. Seven!) They were physical up front and hard-hitting in the back. And now they must almost completely rebuild.

Twelve North Texas defenders recorded at least 2.5 tackles for loss in 2013. The Mean Green tried to keep as many players as possible close to the line of scrimmage, daring you to beat them deep. It was a gamble that paid off more often than not, but we'll see how aggressive defensive coordinator John Skladany feels he can be now that six of the aforementioned 12 defenders are gone.

Skladany found himself in a tough spot, stuck between what he wanted to do on defense and what he could do with his personnel. Already outmanned because of turnover, he had to deal with constant shuffling up front, and UNT's defense collapsed from top to bottom. The Mean Green fell from 33rd in Success Rate+ and 70th in IsoPPP+ to 123rd and 122nd, respectively, and Skladany retired.

There were disruptive moments -- the pass rush wasn't awful, and when UNT could attack the line in short yardage, it did so pretty well.

But on a play-for-play basis, this was a miserable unit, and it started up front. New defensive coordinator Chris Cosh -- a veteran former DC at Illinois (1996), Michigan State (1998), South Carolina (2003), Maryland (2006-08), Kansas State (2009-11), and South Florida (2012) -- will bring some new ideas to the table, but it won't matter if the line isn't more stable.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 84.9 3.09 2.94 39.3% 66.7% 17.8% 90.5 6.4% 6.0%
Rank 121 86 35 70 60 89 86 31 90
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Daryl Mason DE
9 19.0 3.0% 6.5 3.0 0 0 2 0
Jarrian Roberts DE 6'2, 240 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8006 12 18.5 2.9% 5.5 2.0 0 0 0 1
Chad Polk DE 6'0, 231 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000 10 18.5 2.9% 7.5 4.5 0 3 1 0
Austin Orr DT 6'4, 277 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000 11 17.5 2.8% 3.0 2.0 0 0 2 0
Sir Calvin Wallace DT 6'2, 296 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7900 12 16.0 2.5% 4.0 2.0 0 0 0 1
Malik Dilonga DE 6'4, 252 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7980 11 11.0 1.7% 3.0 2.0 0 1 0 0
Tillman Johnson DE 6'1, 243 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7694 8 8.5 1.3% 4.0 4.0 0 0 0 0
Sid Moore DT 6'1, 257 So. NR NR 9 8.5 1.3% 3.5 1.5 0 0 0 0
Andy Flusche DE 6'3, 261 So. NR NR 7 8.0 1.3% 2.5 1.5 0 0 0 0
Alexander Lincoln DT
10 8.0 1.3% 2.5 2.5 0 2 0 0
Dutton Watson DT
5 2.5 0.4% 1.5 1.5 1 0 0 0
Mustafa Haboul DT 6'0, 267 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000 4 1.5 0.2% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jareid Combs DE 6'3, 248 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7811
Joseph Ozougwu DE 6'3, 205 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8000







7. Injuries hurt in the present tense...

...but help in the future tense. When glancing at a team's individual defensive stats, I tend to take a quick approach to determining whether someone was a regular: if he averaged at least a tackle per game played, he was probably in the rotation.

In 2013, UNT had six regulars on the defensive line and five at linebacker. In 2014, the Mean Green had eight and six, respectively, and a ninth lineman averaged 0.9 per game.

That is a sign of constant shuffling. Only two of the nine played in all 12 games. Leading pass rusher Chad Polk missed two games, fellow starting end Daryl Mason missed three. Sir Calvin Wallace was the only tackle to play in all 12 games. Considering 2013's top two ends and top two tackles were gone, this led UNT right past "depth issues" and into "depth crisis."

Mason is gone, but the other eight linemen who got decent playing time are back, including Polk and Wallace. Toss in JUCO transfer Jareid Combs, and on paper you've got depth far beyond what you had. The pass rush should continue to be solid, but the run defense has a bit to prove.

At linebacker, UNT's best run supporter Derek Akunne is gone, but five others got experience last year. Of course, experience only matters for players with potential, and the five primary returnees combined for just 8.5 tackles for loss and four pass breakups; Akunne had 8.5 and two by himself.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Derek Akunne OLB
12 86.5 13.6% 8.5 3.0 0 2 3 0
Fred Scott MLB 5'11, 238 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7844 12 40.5 6.4% 2.5 0.0 0 1 0 0
Jamal Marshall OLB 6'3, 203 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000 12 31.5 5.0% 1.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Anthony Wallace MLB 6'0, 236 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9414 9 21.5 3.4% 0.0 0.0 0 2 0 0
Sed Ellis OLB 6'3, 210 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7826 12 18.0 2.8% 1.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
Calvin Minor OLB 6'3, 219 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7694 11 17.5 2.8% 3.5 1.5 0 0 0 0
A.J. Smith LB 6'2, 224 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7519 8 1.5 0.2% 1.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Garner LB 5'11, 220 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8054
Courtney Finney LB 6'0, 225 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7633
Dakota Smith LB 6'4, 230 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7400








Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Sheldon Wade FS
11 46.5 7.3% 0 0 1 1 0 0
James Jones CB
12 46.5 7.3% 1 0 3 9 0 1
Kenny Buyers CB 5'11, 186 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) N/A 12 46.0 7.2% 3 0 2 3 0 0
Lairamie Lee SS
11 43.5 6.9% 0.5 0 2 3 1 0
Kishawn McClain FS 5'11, 193 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7000 12 30.0 4.7% 0.5 0 1 0 0 0
Zac Whitfield CB
10 16.0 2.5% 1 0 1 0 0 0
John Schilleci SS 6'0, 200 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7906 7 7.0 1.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Chad Davis CB 5'10, 184 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8272 11 6.0 0.9% 0 0 1 2 0 0
Matthew Dash DB 6'0, 194 Sr. NR 0.7000 5 5.0 0.8% 0.5 0 0 0 0 0
Kerrick Rhone
(Kent State)
DB 5'10, 180 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7300
Jakii Moore
(UAB)
DB 6'1, 198 Jr. NR NR
James Gray DB 6'0, 193 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8033
Xavier Grindle DB 5'11, 192 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8156
Ashton Preston DB 5'10, 177 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8195
Nate Brooks DB 6'0, 163 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7948








8. Transplant in the back

Aside from the offensive line, the secondary was probably the second-most experienced unit. And like the offensive line, a) it didn't perform as well as expected, and b) it faces a rebuild. Both starting safeties and two of the top three cornerbacks are gone, leaving corner Kenny Buyers, sophomore safety Kishawn McClain and question marks.

Chad Davis seems to have potential (he defensed three passes while on the field long enough to make only six tackles), but players like JUCO transfers James Gray and Xavier Grindle, FBS transfers Kerrick Rhone and Jakil Moore, and incoming freshmen Ashton Preston and Nate Brooks will get the opportunity to work into the lineup.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Eric Keena 6'2, 170 Jr. 42 44.6 2 12 4 38.1%
Blake Macek 5'11, 190 Jr. 31 41.4 3 9 11 64.5%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Eric Keena 6'2, 170 Jr. 67 62.5 23 2 34.3%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Trevor Moore 5'11, 175 So. 35-35 11-12 91.7% 4-5 80.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Carlos Harris KR 5'8, 183 Sr. 19 23.6 0
Darvin Kidsy KR 6'0, 182 Jr. 12 24.9 1
Darvin Kidsy PR 6'0, 182 Jr. 23 10.1 1
Carlos Harris PR 5'8, 183 Sr. 10 4.7 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 39
Field Goal Efficiency 15
Punt Return Efficiency 124
Kick Return Efficiency 94
Punt Efficiency 37
Kickoff Efficiency 3
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 82

9. Again a strength

Through all of last year's struggles, North Texas could again count on its special teams unit to bail it out to a degree. Place-kicker Trevor Moore made sure that just about any trip inside the opponent's 40 ended up in at least three points (and as a freshman, no less), and Eric Keena and Blake Macek provided sturdy legs in the realm of punting and kickoffs.

The return game regressed dramatically following the departure of the explosive Brelan Chancellor, and because of that, UNT's special teams ranking fell from 16th in 2013 to 39th. But it was obviously the least of the Mean Green's problems, and with everybody back, that should be the case again.

2015 Schedule & Projection Factors

2015 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
12-Sep at SMU 127
19-Sep Rice 86
26-Sep at Iowa 63
3-Oct at Southern Miss 110
10-Oct Portland State NR
17-Oct Western Kentucky 50
24-Oct at Marshall 17
31-Oct UTSA 109
7-Nov at Louisiana Tech 35
14-Nov at Tennessee 24
21-Nov at Middle Tennessee 87
28-Nov UTEP 90
Five-Year F/+ Rk -22.5% (101)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 109 / 111
2014 TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* 0 / -2.7
2014 TO Luck/Game +1.1
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 11 (5, 6)
2014 Second-order wins (difference) 4.5 (-0.5)

10. Not the best schedule for a rebound

In its first year in Conference USA, FBS newcomer Charlotte plays seven teams that ranked 96th or worse in F/+ last year. North Texas plays four. Granted, four of five home opponents ranked 86th or worse, so if the Mean Green are decent at home again, the win total should get propped up.

But three of the season's most winnable games (SMU, Southern Miss, MTSU) are on the road, and any chance of a return to bowl eligibility will depend on the Mean Green figuring out how to improve away from Denton.

It's almost a guarantee that North Texas will be better. The defense could benefit from last year's injuries, the recruiting class could offer some immediate help at nearly every position, and if nothing else, there are more options at quarterback than there were last year.

If this team holds steady at home and plays better on the road, then 6-6 is a possibility. But the margin for error here is small, and after such a ferocious collapse, UNT bears the burden of proof.