UNT will face one of the nation’s most productive pocket passers — at least at this point of the season — on Saturday when the Mean Green takes on Ball State and Keith Wenning.
Wenning has thrown for 665 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions in two games.
Yeah, he’s pretty good. He’s 6-3, 220, and will sit in the pocket and try to pick UNT apart.
And that begs the question: Just how well has UNT fared against top pocket passers the last few years.
I went back through the record books and came up with a rundown. Now, I might be splitting hairs here on who counts as a pocket passer and who is more of a dual-threat guy, but the list still worth looking at:
UNT has faced Idaho’s Chad Chalich and Ohio’s Tyler Tettleton so far. Both are dual-threat kind of guys, so we have to dig a little deeper.
LSU — Zach Mettenberger went 19-for-26 for 192 yards and a touchdown and the Tigers beat UNT in its now annual Money, Body Bag or Opportunity game, depending on your point of view.
Troy — Corey Robinson went 29-for-42 for 274 yards and two touchdowns to help Troy sneak out of town with a win
Houston — David Piland went 31-for-41 for 321 yards and two touchdowns for the Cougars, who rolled
Middle Tennessee — Logan Kilgore went 20-for-30 for 349 yards and three touchdowns in an MTSU win
Western Kentucky — Kawaun Jakes went 19-for-29 for 231 yards and a touchdown and WKU pulled out a win
Houston — Case Keenum went 26-for-41 for 458 yards and five touchdowns in a Houston win
Alabama — A.J. McCarron went 15-for-21 for 190 yards and the Tide coasted
Indiana — Edward Wright-Baker went 23-for-40 for 209 yards and UNT pulled the stunner
Tulsa — G.J. Kinne went 20-for-31 for 314 yards and three touchdowns in a Tulsa win
Troy — Corey Robinson threw for 267 yards and four touchdowns, but UNT pulled out the win
Western Kentucky — Kawaun Jakes went 14-for-29 for 173 yards and a touchdown and the Hilltoppers won
Here’s my point, UNT has struggled against the better pocket passers it has seen over the last two years, and don’t forget the dual-threat guys who also gave the Mean Green fits like Arkansas State’s Ryan Aplin and Louisiana-Monroe’s Kolton Browning.
Those struggles were a big reason UNT brought in Ryan Walters to coach cornerbacks in the offseason. Head coach Dan McCarney talked a lot about how UNT’s secondary struggled last season. UNT has given up a few long completions so far this year, including two last week in a loss to Ohio when Tyler Tettleton hit Chase Cochran for a 75-yard touchdown and a key third-down completion on a late field goal drive that helped the Bobcats pull out a 27-21 win.
This will be UNT’s first real test against a team that relies on a guy who can sit back there in the pocket and pick a team apart. UNT gave up 252 passing yards a game last season and has gotten better. UNT is allowing 171 yards this year. UNT is also changing its lineup this week, going with Kenny Buyers over Zac Whitfield.
We will know a whole lot more about how much UNT has improved over last season after this weekend’s game.