North Texas appears to have turned the corner after tonight’s 20-10 national broadcast victory over Ball State. What a big victory it was too. I’ve never seen things look so good on the field for North Texas.
I said going into the game that North Texas just had to play decent to have a good season. I was by no means predicting a Mean Green win. I had my concerns about Riley Dodge’s size as a quarterback. I had even more concerns about the wide receivers Dodge could throw to.
In fact, the only thing I knew North Texas was good at was its running game.
I think all my questions were answered tonight, and then some. Riley looked good finding the wide receivers, and the wide receivers did the work. The spread offense actually looked like a spread offense, with nine different receivers logging a catch in the box score.
The running backs looked really strong. North Texas did have the nation’s leading rusher for a couple years earlier this decade. Cam Montgomery logged a ridiculous 148 yards on 17 carries. That’s almost a nine-yard average.
Despite the strengths of the offense, the more important issue was the defense. North Texas managed to give up just over 300 total yards. Ordinarily, that's nothing great, but for North Texas that's tremendous. North Texas was the worst in the nation in many categories on the defensive front.
The defense couldn't tackle opponents last year, giving up big plays. Although the same happened tonight, it wasn't nearly as frequent. The lineman and linebackers got pressure on the Ball State quarterback, forcing bad throws. MiQuale Lewis, who many consider one of the best running backs in the nation, was barely able to get 100 yards rushing. The secondary played well, giving up less than 150 yards through the air.
Perhaps the most important thing is the quality of athletes UNT has now. The receivers looked like legitimate Division 1 athletes. They were evading tackles left and right and racking up yards after the catch. The defense forced interceptions and fumbles, and was able to stop Ball State in critical situations.
Although I can’t say how many games North Texas will win this year, I think my original 4 wins is a great estimate. I’m not ready to up that prediction yet, but another win early this season will force me too.
At least I can be glad to see North Texas out of ESPN’s Bottom 10.