This is UNT Preview week at Collegefootballtopten.com. We will review the offense today and the defense and special teams tomorrow. Finally, we will conclude with a look at the UNT 2008 Schedule.
After just averaging 12.8 points a game in 2006, Todd Dodge brought “Dodge Ball” to North Texas and the Mean Green picked up the pace with an average of 24.8 points per game. The transition wasn’t easy as UNT scored more than 20 points just once in the first four games in 2007. By the time that the Green played the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Dodge had turned to true freshmen QB Giovanni Vizza to run the offense, and the points began to rise along with yardage.
Of course, no performance had garnered more passing yards than the performance by QB Daniel Meager against SMU. Meager passed for a staggering 601 yards against the Mustangs, but UNT failed to score enough points and lost the game 45-31. Meager threw eight interceptions in four games, and Vizza became the starter. Vizza had a huge performance in the late season shootout with Navy. Vizza passed for 478 yards as the Mean Green lost 74-62 in the highest scoring regulation game in NCAA history. Vizza went on to earn Sun Belt Freshman of the Year honors. What makes Vizza so potent in Dodge’s Spread Offense is his ability to run.
Vizza had options at the wide receiver spot, and most of those return. At the top of the list is Casey Fitzgerald whose performances in 2007 earned him an Honorable Mention All American from SI.com. Fitzgerald tunred in a dizzying performance against SMU when he caught 18 passes for 327 yards. Overall, Fitzgerald caught 111 passes for 1322 yards and 12 touchdowns. UNT also returns Micah Mosely at Running Back. Mosely had 461 yard rushing and 5 touchdowns and should be called upon to be the leading rusher with the departure of Jamario Thomas. Helping out Mosley will be Cam Montgomery. Montgomery took a Medical Redshirt last year after coming from Northeast Mississippi Community College. Rivals.com listed Montgomery’s 40 time at 4.4.
The Offensive Line is a more uncertain area of the UNT Offense, but it seems to be in better shape than it was last year. The Mean Green return 4 starters and at least 7 lettermen which should provide better depth. UNT will hope to improve on the 39 sacks it gave up last year. The UNT line will be anchored by Junior Center Kelvin Drake and Sophomore Right Guard Esteban Santiago. To help strengthen the Offensive Line, UNT signed a couple of JUCO players.
The X Factor for the UNT offense is Freshman QB Riley Dodge. Will Riley play as a true freshman or redshirt? Will Riley take over the starting job at QB? How will coach Dodge use his son? Dodge is a great athlete who could be used on the field in certain situations or in other posistions such as a WR or some kind of H Back. However, as good as an athlete as he is, college football takes time to get accustomed to. If Dodge can adapt to the speed of the college game and adjust to college life, he might be playing on Saturday. If QB Giovanni Vizza continues to improve, then there should be no pressure on Coach Dodge to throw his son into the fire early. Then, he would have the option to ease Riley into college football.
I expect to see UNT’s offense be even better in 2008. The Mean Green played a lot of young players last year and now everyone is in their second year of “Dodge Ball.” The Offensive Line may be slow to improve, especially with early games against Kansas State and LSU. However, by the time conference play rolls around, they should be better able to protect the QB.