Summer football questions series — Part V: Does the loss of a couple of key assistants hurt?

Now that we are back from a little R&R and in the blast furnace of the Texas summer, it’s time to kick our summer questions series on UNT football back into gear.

It’s something of an off-season tradition to look at the state of affairs for the UNT football program and pose a few questions about where the Mean Green stands and where it’s headed the following fall.

We are also in the heat of the preseason recruiting push, which brings us to question No. 5 in our series — Does the loss of a couple of key assistants hurt UNT this year?

UNT lost safeties coach Noah Joseph and cornerbacks coach Ryan Walters to Indiana and Memphis, respectively. Defensive line coach Mike Nelson retired. Dan McCarney hasn’t been shy about saying that both Joseph and Walters are going to make a whole lot more money in their next stops.

The good news is that UNT has its cornerstone in place in McCarney, who is about as well connected in college football as one can possibly be. McCarney often talks about a list that he keeps stashed away of guys he would go after if any position opens up on his staff.

It’s also good news that UNT has coaches that other colleges higher up the food chain are interested in.

What could be problematic is that Joseph and Walters were not only the two guys who were coaching UNT’s secondary, they were also two of the staff’s heavy lifters in terms of recruiting, which to me is a really, really big part of what makes college teams thrive or sink.

Walters was a name I heard a lot when talking to recruits and Joseph was UNT’s recruiting coordinator. Those two guys also did a good job with UNT’s secondary last year that featured all-conference safety Marcus Trice and Kenny Buyers, who moved into the starting lineup in the middle of the year and thrived.

UNT landed a guy with NFL experience in Perry Carter to coach safeties and LaMarcus Hicks, a guy who played in the NFL, to coach cornerbacks. Former South Florida assistant Kevin Patrick took over UNT’s defensive line. All three will be good coaches at UNT, but each will have an adjustment period like anyone else would.

It will also take them some time to build up the connections with Texas high school coaches and players that Joseph, and to a lesser extent Walters, possessed.

The departure of Joseph also caused a shift that put wide receivers Mike Grant in the recruiting coordinator spot.

Grant will be just as good in that role as Carter, Hicks and Patrick will be in their coaching roles. Again, what one has to wonder if there won’t be an adjustment period.

We broached this topic before right after all these changes were made and McCarney doesn’t think UNT would miss a beat. He knows better than anyone and has certainly earned a high level of trust. The UNT fan base is clearly on the “Dan Wagon” after the Mean Green’s breakout season and win in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

For what it’s worth, I’m starting to think Patrick could be a force on the recruiting trail.

Change is never easy, though. It’s for that reason, a series of key changes to UNT’s staff makes our list of questions the Mean Green faces heading into the 2014 season.

Here’s our list so far:

UNT off-season questions series
(Remember, it’s a questions series, not a cheerleading exercise):

1. Can UNT maintain momentum?

2. How does UNT’s QB situation shake out?

3. Can UNT rebuild its defensive line?

4. Is the leadership in place with players, has the culture changed?

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