Speaking of North Texas, I really guess I should acknowledge the other half of the title of this blog and make some predictions about the Mean Green’s upcoming season.
Last year was a rough year for the Darrell Dickey’s squad, whose streak of four consecutive conference championships (and New Orleans Bowl appearances) ended with a disappointing 2-9 record.
So how will they do this year? Some preseason prognisticators don’t have much faith in a North Texas rebound this season. Collegefootballnews.com’s preseason outlook places UNT 109th (out of 119 teams) and foresees a 4-8 campaign for the Green. Collegefootballpoll.com also expects a rough year for North Texas, with a 2-10 record. Not exactly good news for the Denton faithful, since the Congrove Computer System cfp.com uses has predicted UNT’s record either perfectly or within a single game for eight out of the last eleven seasons. Sports Illustrated, meanwhile, predicts a 3-9 campaign for the Mean Green. Not all the preseason prognostications are as bleak, however. The folks at msnbc.com foresee North Texas regaining its place atop the Sun Belt this fall (scroll down to the bottom).
To be sure, the Mean Green aren't devoid of talent. For example, Jamario Thomas, who led the nation in rushing in 2004, will figure prominently in the offense as long as he avoids the hamstring problems that hobbled him last year, and Johhny Quinn is as good a receiver as any in the Sun Belt. The big question is quarterback; the departure of Scott Hall left little experience at the quarterback position, and that was one of the reasons for UNT’s troubles last season. Neither of the two main contenders (sophomores Daniel Meager and Matt Phillips) have been particularly impressive. As for the North Texas defense, well… Let’s just say that the good news is that it can’t be any worse than it was last season. Better defense against the run is crucial if the Mean Green hope to compete for their fifth conference championship in six years.
Then there’s the schedule. North Texas will do well to escape their paycheck loss to Texas in Austin without any major injuries, but they also have back-to-back September roadies against two of last year’s conference champions: C-USA champ Tulsa and MAC champ Akron. The conference schedule isn’t exactly favorable, either; the Mean Green have to play the top three Sun Belt teams from last year – Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, and preseason favorite Louisiana-Lafayette – on the road.
Given those facts, I think 2006 is probably going to be another rebuilding year for North Texas. They could surprise – I’d love it if they did – but I honestly think the Mean Green will be able to claim success if they can merely squeak out a break-even, six-win season.
This will, unfortunately, be the third year in a row that I won’t be able to make any trips up to Denton to see the Mean Green play in person.