UNT head coach Dan McCarney has suspended defensive tackle Richard Abbe indefinitely after he was charged with DWI last week.
Now, indefinitely could mean just about anything.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that indefinitely means that if Abbe walks the line and takes care of everything he is supposed to that means he will miss, oh, I don’t know, maybe exactly the first two games of next season.
If that were the case, Abbe would miss the Idaho game (one UNT needs to win) and the Ohio game (which looks like a long shot).
Here’s the issue with Abbe out of the lineup: He came out of the spring as a starter.
Here’s the two-deep coming out of the spring:
DT (1 technique):
Richard Abbe, 6-4 319
Sir Calvin Wallace, 6-2 308
Dutton Watson, 6-3, 261
DT (3 technique):
Alexander Lincoln, 6-2 249
Austin Orr, 6-4 268
Ryan Boutwell, 6-3 261
The issue is that UNT plays a 4-3 and is really short on 1 technique guys (the player who lineup on the inside shoulder of the guard). UNT essentially had two last year — Tevinn Cantly and Abbe. Cantly was lost to graduation. The 3 technique guys line up on the outside shoulder of the opposite guard and are generally smaller, quicker guys. UNT has a few, including Alexander Lincoln and Ryan Boutwell.
If you look back through last season’s lineups, UNT had Abbe or Cantly in the lineup for every game (at least to start) in every game except for the Texas Southern, Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee games. They both started four times, against LSU, Arkansas State, South Alabama and Western Kentucky.
FAU was dead last in the Sun Belt in rushing offense last season and UNT probably knew that MTSU was going to hand the ball to Logan Kilgore and have him chunk it all over the field. Kilgore went for 349 and three touchdowns against UNT.
The point is, UNT nearly always tried to put one of its two biggest guys in Cantly or Abbe in the middle of the line.
UNT has just two 300 pound tackles heading into next season in Abbe and Sir Calvin Wallace, who is now just starting to emerge from the doghouse after coming to school out of shape.
If Abbe is out, UNT can go with two smaller guys, including one in the 1-technique spot, but that could make it vulnerable to the run and the play action pass with Zach Orr and the rest of the Mean Green’s linebackers coming up in run support.
The Boutwell-Lincoln pairing held up OK against the run against FAU (159 yards) and Middle Tennessee (139 yards) last year, but one has to wonder if that is a lineup UNT wants to use again this year, especially considering the staff was talking about using Boutwell more at end this year since he struggles to maintain his weight.
Since the Abbe issue came up, there has been some talk about the importance of the development of guys like incoming freshman Sid Moore.
To me, the guy who becomes really important now is Wallace. UNT is going to need someone with size in the middle when it comes up against teams that are going to run the ball. If Abbe is out for of the lineup for the first two games of the season, more than that or just needs someone to spell him, about the only option in terms of guys with the size to play inside is Wallace.
UNT has more options when it comes to the other tackle spot where Boutwell played much of last season.
A lack of guys with size is just something to consider heading into next season.