What I know directly about North Texas wouldn’t fill the back side of a matchbook cover, so I did the next best thing and took a look at what Steele and Myerberg had to say about the Mean Green.
The first thing that jumped out is experience. Richt’s not blowing Dooleyesque smoke when he says,
“I’m very impressed with what I see on film. Coach McCarney has done a great job with his team. One of the things that sticks out to me is the number of junior and seniors that they have playing and starting for them. There are nine juniors and seniors on offense and 10 out of 11 defenders are either juniors or senior – mostly seniors. So they are a very veteran team.”
No, that doesn’t make up for the talent imbalance, but you’re probably looking at a team that avoids beating itself too often. That’s reflected in turnover margin, where North Texas is the top ranked team in the country (although to my surprise, the Mean Green are one of the more heavily penalized squads, ranking 110th).
The second thing I noticed is the fine job the North Texas offensive line does in pass protection. In 2012, they allowed the fewest sacks in D-1 and they’re now tied for fifth in that category. So even if Derek Thompson isn’t as mobile as Boyd or Shaw (although that’s not to say he won’t do some running), that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Georgia defense is suddenly looking at a sack fest.
Thompson’s ranked 39th in passer rating, so it sounds like the NT passing game is competent. Myerberg noted that the Mean Green need to find a little more explosiveness in the passing game, and perhaps they have, as they rank higher than Georgia in long passing plays. North Texas is middle of the pack in rushing, so the offense looks fairly balanced.
Steele thought North Texas had a shot at bowl eligibility going into the season. Myerberg was less optimistic, ranking the program at 113. But the win over Ball State, fueled by a +4 turnover margin, has revised Myerberg’s opinion considerably, as he now sets NT at number 80.
If you’ve taken a peek at this week’s Fabris Pool, you’ve noticed that Georgia is a heavy favorite. It’s a game that Georgia can cover, provided the Dawgs avoid making mistakes. Screw around, though, and North Texas is capable of playing a much closer game.