I asked several UNT players to talk about why Tuesday’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette at home is big this week. The reasons are obvious: national TV, a chance to stay in the Sun Belt title chase, national TV, an opportunity to bounce back from a demoralizing loss to Houston.
Did I mention the game is on national TV?
There is another point that kept coming up.
This game will be huge for UNT’s recruiting prospects.
Anyone paying attention to the games this season or to what Dan McCarney has said since he got here know that UNT is in dire need of a talent infusion.
Zach Orr’s great. UNT’s line is pretty good. Brelan Chancellor is a terrific Sun Belt wide receiver.
But let’s face it. UNT’s roster has more holes than your average box of doughnuts.
UNT really needs (takes a deep breath) a couple of wide receivers, a playmaking tight end, a center in case Boone Feldt can’t come back from injury and isn’t ready to replace Aaron Fortenberry, some young defensive linemen to develop, a new punter, and just an overall talent upgrade.
The Sun Belt is getting a lot better, but heading to Conference USA next year isn’t going to make things any easier.
In a side note, has anyone noticed how good Ohio, which is on next year’ nonconference schedule, is doing?
That’s why this game is so important. One way or another, this game is going to make a huge impression on a whole lot of players UNT wants to and needs to sign this February.
UNT has done OK so far, according to the experts who know what they are talking about. Scout.com has UNT sitting fifth in the Sun Belt in their recruiting rankings. Rivals has UNT at fourth. And yes, those rankings matter in terms of being an overall gauge for how teams are doing in recruiting.
It’s going to be tough for UNT to make the jump talent-wise to C-USA, which is a step above the Sun Belt. Jeremy Crabtree of ESPN told me that before the season started.
How does UNT make the jump and start landing those bigger-time players it’s going to need to win at the C-USA level?
The best way to do it is to win big games, especially if they are on TV.
UNT won a big game at home against Indiana last year and made a statement with a 59-7 pounding of Middle Tennessee to close the season.
UNT hasn’t posted that kind of win yet this season. The opportunity comes Tuesday, not because ULL (or Louisiana as the Cajuns like to be known) is a household name, but because this game is on TV. The fact that ULL might be the best team in the Sun Belt also helps matters — a little.
The eyes of the DFW area in terms of high school players are going to be on UNT.
That’s a big reason why UNT officials have been pushing this game like a televangelist with a 1-800 number.
UNT has commercials running, print ads running and has postured pretty much the entire Dallas area with fliers.
Translation — “For the love of God!!! Come to the game!!!”
There are a ton of reasons why UNT wants a big crowd from publicity for the university in general to not wanting to have a ton of empty seats like Florida International did for its TV game.
Just don’t forget that recruiting is also a big part of the equation.
Those guys who will be standing on the sideline pregame and sitting in the stands in letter jackets are very important people.
UNT has some good players. No one is denying that.
UNT just needs a lot more of them.
Tuesday night is their big chance to put together one heck of a sales pitch.