Five things UNT fans need know about Indiana

Indiana running back Tevin Coleman carries the ball during a game against Maryland last week in Bloomington, Ind. Coleman leads the nation with an average of 172.8 rushing yards a game. (Associated Press/Darron Cummings)

North Texas will face Indiana at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. Here’s a quick scouting report of the Hoosiers:

Indiana: 2-2, 0-1 in Big Ten (Lost to Maryland 37-15 last week)

Key number: 172.8 (Rushing yards per game Indiana running back Tevin Coleman is averaging to lead the nation. UNT ranks 11th nationally with an average of 87.3 rushing yards allowed a game)

1. Indiana features top rushing attack

UNT head coach Dan McCarney spoke this week about how impressed he is with Indiana’s running game. Coleman is the headliner, but he is far from the only top player who makes the Hoosiers’ running game that is averaging 284.2 yards a game effective. Second-string running back D’Angelo Roberts is adding 64.2 yards a game. Indiana has a big and impressive offensive line that has cleared the way for both Coleman and Roberts this season that is anchored by tackle Jason Spriggs, an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection on teams selected by both the media and the league’s head coaches last season. Indiana has rushed for at least 200 yards in five straight games.

2. Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld has some experience

While Indiana’s running game headlines its offense, junior quarterback Nate Sudfeld isn’t there just to hand the ball off. The California native has thrown for 836 yards and two touchdowns while throwing only two interceptions all season. Sudfeld struggled last week in a  loss to Maryland, throwing for just 126 yards, while completing just 14 of his 37 pass attempts, but has been solid overall. He threw for 252 yards in an upset win over Missouri and 347 yards at Bowling Green.

3. The Hoosiers appear vulnerable to teams with good passing attacks

An inability to slow opponents in the passing game has come back to bite Indiana at times this season. Indiana had Bowling Green pinned at its 12-yard line with 1:59 remaining while leading by three points before giving up a 12-play, 88-yard touchdown drive in a 45-42 loss. All but two of those yards came on James Knape passes and two pass interference penalties. Roger Lewis caught a 2-yard pass from Knape for the game-winner. Maryland threw for 361 yards in a win over the Hoosiers, who rank 116th nationally with an average of 306.8 passing yards allowed a game.

4. Indiana is a Big Ten team with Big Ten size

The stereotype when it comes to Big Ten teams is that they are powered by big offensive lines and have just as much beef on the defensive side when it comes to linemen. With Indiana, that notion holds true. All five of the Hoosiers offensive linemen check in at least 285 pounds. Spriggs and right guard Dan Feeney check in at 300 and 305 pounds respectively. Indiana also has six 300-pound defensive tackles listed on its depth chart in its 4-3 alignment led by Adarius Rayner and Ralph Green III, who are bosh listed at 307 pounds.

5. Indiana flat needs to beat North Texas

Indiana is in its fourth season under head coach Kevin Wilson, who has gradually improved the Hoosiers’ program. Indiana just missed on becoming bowl-eligible last season at 5-7 and needs to break through this year. The Hoosiers are 2-2 and squandered a chance to pick up another win by losing a late lead and falling to Bowling Green. Indiana can’t afford another loss before heading back into Big Ten play, especially at home to UNT in a game the Hoosiers are heavily favored to win. The road to a bowl becomes a whole lot tougher for Indiana if it can’t handle UNT. No one knows that better than the Hoosiers who will be ready for the Mean Green.

Wednesday morning notes, links (UNT preparing for top RB)

McCarney

UNT head coach Dan McCarney knows a thing or two about the Big Ten Conference. He played in the league while he was at Iowa and coached at his alma mater before working at Wisconsin.

McCarney talked this week about all those years and the one thing that never seemed to change — the fact that Indiana always has a great running back.

The topic came up because the Hoosiers have the nation’s leading rusher on a per-game basis in Tevin Coleman, who is averaging 172.8 yards a game. UNT is allowing just 87.3 rushing yards a game.

What McCarney and his  players had to say about the matchup leads our all-sports notebook today. 

UNT hasn’t faced the best competition at times this season with games against SMU and Nicholls State, but what the Mean Green have accomplished is still pretty remarkable considering how many key players they lost defensively.

McCarney and his players gave a lot of the credit to defensive coordinator John Skladany and his gap-control defense. It’s an approach that emphasizes having a player in position to make the tackle at every turn.

The key is having those players make the tackle when they have the chance. Cutting Coleman down early will be important. I’ve talked to a couple  of people who cover Indiana and they say that Coleman gets to the hole quickly and has great acceleration.

Our trip around the bases also includes a look at Jackie Kerestine’s record-setting shutout in soccer. The junior goalie posted two shutouts over the weekend and has 24 for her career.

UNT is off to its typically torrid start and is 2-0 in Conference USA play.

And in other news, UNT is having a white-out game tonight in volleyball. The Mean Green face Rice at 5:30 p.m. Both teams are 1-1 in C-USA. UNT split on the opening weekend of conference play.

 

Q&A with David Woods of the Indianapolis Star

We are lucky today to have David Woods from the Indianapolis Star on the blog with to discuss this weekend’s North Texas-Indiana game.

One can find David’s work on Star’s website and follow him on Twitter at @DavidWoods007

1. Indiana has been all over the map, pulling off the upset of Missouri, while also losing a tight one to Bowl Green and struggling against Maryland. Just how good are the Hoosiers?

Their results make them difficult to evaluate. They played brilliantly at Missouri and deserved to win that one, 31-27. But they were horrific in the second half at Bowling Green (allowing five touchdowns, 375 yards and 27 first downs in one half) and regressed in a 37-15 loss to Maryland. Indiana is probably somewhere in between the team that showed up at Mizzou and the one that was so feeble against Maryland.

2. Tevin Coleman has been terrific and leads the nation in rushing. Talk a little about what makes him a great player.

His acceleration is phenomenal. If he gets past the line of scrimmage, he is a threat to make it all the way to the goal line. I know that’s a cliché, but it is applicable to him. Also, he runs better between the tackles than he did last year. He has six successive 100-yard games, and he has totaled 1,014 yards in those six – half a season.

3. Dan McCarney said that Indiana has improved defensively. Have the Hoosiers made big strides?

They have. Even against Maryland, the defense would have been considered adequate by last year’s standards. The new 3-4 scheme perhaps doesn’t matter as much as the fact that Indiana has more talent and depth on defense. It is still a fragile defense but could seemingly improve throughout the season.

4. How much heat is on Kevin Wilson to win this year? Is this a must-win game for Indiana if it hopes to get to a bowl game?

A sure way to perpetuate a losing football program is to change coaches every three or four years. I don’t detect any inclination that Indiana wants Wilson out. Athletic director Fred Glass is committed to seeing it through under Wilson, whose recruiting has elevated the talent level. But to reach a bowl game, Indiana must beat North Texas.

5. How do you see this one playing out?

I think Indiana will pull itself together and win, but it has been hard to take this team’s temperature. In my preseason predictions, I had Indiana beating Bowling Green and Maryland and losing to Missouri. So I’m a poor forecaster.

Tuesday morning notes (Could coaching changes open the door for UNT in recruiting?)

A couple of schools UNT has gone against in recruiting have pulled the trigger and parted ways with their head coaches over the last few days.

Charlie Weis is out at Kansas, while June Jones parted ways with SMU.

UNT recruited a few of the same players those schools were after. Could it open up the possibility that those players flip to UNT?

There is always a chance.

Here are the players in question:

SMU — WR James Proche, DeSoto; LB Michael Scott, Irving Nimitz; ATH Billy McCrary III, Leader Rouse

Kansas — DE Carl Thompson, Guyer

There are any number of reasons a player commits to a school. Some like the school or the program. For others, it’s location that is the draw. But there is little doubt that the coach is usually near the top of the list.

UNT is getting down to the bitter end in terms of scholarships, but a couple of those guys are ones I would suspect the Mean Green would grab if they have the chance.

Thompson is a major conference level player who will be highly sought after if he opens it back up.

And in other news …

I wrote a notebook for today’s paper that talks a little about Dajon Williams and how he handled the open week in terms of his preparation for the Indiana game. I also cover a couple of other topics, including the potential return of defensive linemen Daryl Mason and Dutton Watson to the Mean Green’s defensive line rotation this week.

Every guy is different, but my impression of Williams in the very few dealings I have had with him mirrors what we have been told by Dan McCarney and Mike Canales. I just don’t think anything fazes him.

McCarney press conference notes (with Dajon Williams, Kenny Buyers video)

UNT head coach Dan McCarney held his weekly press conference this afternoon. The Mean Green were off last week and will return to action in a key game at Indiana. UNT is 2-2 with its two wins coming against 0-4 SMU and 0-5 Nicholls State.

UNT sees this game as a chance to prove itself and post what would be an attention-grabbing win over a Big 10 opponent. Indiana upset Missouri earlier this year.

The Hoosiers feature Tevinn Coleman, who leads the nation with an average of 172.8 rushing yards a game.

The good news for UNT is that it could have two veteran defensive linemen back this week. Senior defensive end Daryl Mason has yet to play this year due to an undisclosed injury. Dutton Watson, a key defensive tackle who intercepted a tipped pass in a win over SMU, is also expected to return.

In other news and notes …

– McCarney acknowledged that the fate of UNT’s season will hinge on its performance away from Apogee Stadium. UNT is 14-6 at Apogee Stadium under McCarney, but is just 6-15 on the road. McCarney attributed that discrepancy largely to the number of major conference opponents and ranked teams UNT has played on the road during his tenure, including Alabama, LSU, Kansas State and Georgia.

– Both McCarney and new starting quarterback Dajon Williams said he grew and gained experience during an open week after his first start against Nicholls. Williams accounted for five touchdowns against the Colonels.

– Wide receiver Darvin Kidsy will be UNT’s special teams captain this week after a standout performance returning punts in the Mean Green’s win over Nicholls. Kidsy had a 75-yard touchdown return and 132 punt return yards overall.

Quotable

“We had an excellent open week and got a lot done. You want to have a combination of rest and rehab, but we also have so much room to improve as a football team. We want to keep that going and did a nice job of that. Academics is extremely important here. When we changed the culture of this program it started with a commitment to performing in the class room first. An off week gives our guys a chance to get caught up if they were behind or get ahead. We did a good job of that in the open week.”

– Dan McCarney, UNT head coach

“I feel a lot better than I did last week, but every week you have to prepare for a different team. I got a lot out of the open week, especially going against the ones. It helped motivate us. We pushed harder and moved the ball. If feel if I can move the ball against them, I can move it against anybody because we have one of the best defenses around.”

– Dajon Williams, UNT quarterback

UNT about to enter a huge week in its season

UNT was off this week, which gave the Mean Green some time before embarking on a huge week in their season.

UNT will head to Indiana for a nonconference game on Saturday that won’t amount to anything in terms of the Conference USA race. Where it will make an impact is in UNT’s chase for six wins, the development of Dajon Williams and just how long the excitement created by his elevation to the starting lineup lasts.

Nothing will change for UNT’s hardcore fan base no matter what happens on Saturday, but there will be a huge impact in terms of casual interest if the Mean Green (2-2) can pull off what would be a monumental upset.

And, yes, it would be a monumental upset. UNT opened as a 13.5-point underdog.

Williams looked terrific in his first start against Nicholls State in UNT’s last game. And that’s exactly why there are still questions about the redshirt freshman. He looked great against a terrible FCS team. How will he look against a Big 10 team in Indiana that absolutely has to beat UNT?

How will Williams look against Conference USA teams that have time to prepare for him?

We are about to find out.

More often than not, teams and players are not as good as they look when they are at their best or as bad as they look when they are at their worst.

The truth lies somewhere between.

The same is true in terms of UNT. The Mean Green has beaten Nicholls and SMU, two of the worst teams in the FCS and FBS, respectively, while losing to Texas and Louisiana Tech.

UNT didn’t have Williams in the starting lineup for either of its losses.

Would that have made a difference?

The early indications are it would have.

There is still a lot UNT has to learn about its team, and particularly Williams.

A game at Indiana could provide a host of answers on both fronts.

UNT splits on Sunday to cap C-USA opening weekend in soccer, volleyball

UNT went 1-for-2 on Sunday to wrap up the first weekend of the Conference USA season in the fall duo of soccer and volleyball.

John Hedlund’s soccer crew moved to a perfect 2-0 in C-USA play after blasting Southern Miss 4-0. Rachel Holden and Amber Haggerty — two of the usual suspects — scored. Kaylah Hunter and Kelci Hunter also scored Karla Pinda and Leah Cox each had two assists.

UNT put some highlights up on YouTube. I put the video on the top of this blog.

UNT’s volleyball team didn’t fare as well today, getting whacked 3-0 down at UTSA. The Mean Green did squeak out a 3-2 win at UTEP, so not all is lost. The Mean Green came out of the weekend 1-1.

Breaking news — UNT target Tony Lewis to Santa Clara

There are ups and downs, hits and misses in recruiting. It’s part of the deal.

But I did want to point out that Tony Lewis, a big forward we talked to a while back, has committed to Santa Clara.

UNT is chasing several post players and will turn its attention to them. Lewis is ranked No. 29 on TexasHoops.com’s list of the top players in the state for 2015.

UNT is on the board already with Ja’Michael Brown, a point guard out of San Antonio.

Former UNT assistant named Kansas interim head coach

Charlie Weis is out as Kansas head coach and has been replaced on an interim basis by former UNT assistant Clint Bowen.

Kansas put out a release this morning.

Bowen was on UNT’s staff for just one season in Dan McCarney’s first season as the Mean Green’s head coach in 2011.

Bowen was a lifelong Kansas player and assistant coach — he even married a former Miss Kansas — before spending a year at Western Kentucky.

UNT snagged Bowen for McCarney’s first staff. He stayed a year before the Kansas staff changed over and he returned home.

He will now have a chance to lead Kansas program, likely for the rest of the season.

 

Emmanuel Moore talks UNT decision

One of the more prolific receivers in the Dallas area so far this season has committed to UNT, and plans on sticking with that decision as his stock continues to rise.

Emmanuel Moore, a 6-foot-1 receiver from Justin Northwest, said Saturday morning that he has been committed to UNT since this summer.

Moore was a first-team All-District 4-5A selection as a junior in a loaded district that included Southlake Carroll and has continued to build on that performance during his senior year.

Moore has 32 catches for 475 yards and eight touchdowns so far this season and is coming off a monster night in a 52-42 loss to Keller Fossil Ridge on Thursday. He caught five touchdown passes and had 11 total catches for 220 yards.

He also had a 71-yard kickoff return.

UNT offensive coordinator Mike Canales recruited Moore as an outside receiver. UNT was the only team that offered Moore a scholarship, but Central Oklahoma showed interest.

“North Texas is the only team that showed that they really wanted me and offered me  a scholarship,” Moore said. “I talked to my coach about it. He told me that me that if I verbally committed I would have a spot.”

Moore attended a camp at UNT for junior prospects over the summer.

Check back for more on Moore on the blog and in the paper in the next couple of days.