Q&A with Sean Isabella of the Monroe News Star

Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon celebrates his touchdown run in the end zone with Tre Carter, rear, in the second half of a loss to Army in Dallas earlier this year. How North Texas fares against Dixon on Saturday with be critical to the Mean Green’s chances against Tech. (Associated Press)

Sean Isabella of the Monroe News Star is our special guest on the blog this week to talk about UNT’s game against Louisiana Tech. Isabella covers Tech for the News Star. You can find his work on the paper’s website that includes a Louisiana Tech section.

Here is what Isabella had to say about Saturday’s game.

1. What happened to Scotty Young? He’s a former Denton Ryan standout that a lot of people in Denton were looking forward to seeing play this year.

Simply lost his job. Young started the first two games of the season then injured his ribs against Tulane. Redshirt freshman Ryan Higgins finished the game with mixed results, but played well against Kansas, then followed that up with another solid outing against Army and has kept the job. Young hasn’t seen the field since, except for Tech’s last game against UTEP when Higgins injured his ankle and couldn’t finish the game. The ankle isn’t a concern and Young will be relegated back to backup duties.

2. Tech has gotten off to a bit of a slow start. What has been the issue?

No issues, per say. A slow start was expected, but probably not to this extent. Tech lost 32 seniors last year, including its quarterback and two wide receivers, both of whom are on NFL rosters. The offense was among the best in the country in 2012, so it was somewhat unrealistic to expect the same. Having said that, Tech could easily be 4-2. Turnovers cost the Bulldogs in losses to Tulane and Kansas — the only games they were outplayed in were North Carolina State and Army.

3. UNT head coach Dan McCarney talked about the overall talent of Tech’s defensive line. Tell us a little about those guys?

They make the defense go. Led by defensive end IK Enemkpali, the line has set the tone for the unit through six games. The play of the line has had a domino effect on the entire defense. Tech can now get away with rushing just four players and dropping seven into cover, which has especially helped with a young secondary and new linebackers. Teams have tried to neutralize their pass rush with a quick game, so it will be interesting to see how North Texas decides to play it.

4. UNT ran the ball really well last week. How do you think Tech will fare against UNT’s running game?

Army ran wild over Tech in late September at the Cotton Bowl, although the coaches insisted it was a schematic deficiency. We didn’t get a good sense of how they’d respond to a more traditional offense against UTEP since Tech built an early 24-7 lead and forced UTEP to throw it all night. The last time Tech played against a committee of backs, Tulane, which entered the game with a non-existent running game, broke off several big gains.

5. How do you think this game will play out?

It depends which Tech squad shows up. If it’s the same team that played well against Kansas and UTEP, Tech should win. Turnovers have plagued the Bulldogs all year, so if they can limit those, the offense has enough firepower to score in the 20s or 30s and have the defense clamp down. Tech showed glimpses of its true potential against UTEP, so it will be interesting to see if it can carry that over from the bye week.

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