Key questions for Texas game– Can UNT’s defensive line hold?

Defensive end Daryl Mason is one of the key players on a UNT defensive front that will be about 50 pounds smaller per man than its counterparts on Texas offensive line in the teams' season-opener. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

We are getting closer and closer to UNT’s opener at Texas in a couple of weeks. While we sit and wait for UNT to officially announce its starting quarterback, let’s look at one of the key matchups when it comes to the Mean Green’s opener.

There might not be a bigger challenge for UNT than having its defensive line hold up.

Let’s look at the lineups:

This is what Texas’ lineup could look like on its offensive line:

Center – Dominic Espinosa, 6-2, 308

Guard — Sedrick Flowers,  6-3, 320

Guard Taylor Doyle, 6-5, 300

Tackle — Kent Perkins, 6-5, 330

Tackle — Kennedy Estelle, 6-6, 285

Texas doesn’t have an elite level offensive lineman, but it has a ton of guys with size. Texas will average over 300 pounds a man any way it lines up and would check in at just short of 309 in this alignment.

And those players will be clearing the way Malcom Brown and Jonathan Gray, two players on the Doak Walker Award watch list who check in at 222 and 210 pounds, respectively.

UNT has yet to release its depth chart, but let’s look at a safe guess.

Defensive end — Malik Dilonga, 6-4, 252

Defensive tackle — Austin Orr, 6-4, 272

Defensive tackle — Alexander Lincoln, 6-2, 267

Defensive end — Daryl Mason, 6-3, 253

UNT’s starters could well check in at an average of 261 pounds.

That’s a deficit of 48 pounds a player.

To be fair, defensive linemen are generally smaller and quicker. The size difference is still pretty significant.

Texas will want to protect oft-injured David Ash and has two star running backs. I don’t think it’s any secret what Texas will do against the Mean Green. The Longhorns will line up and try to run it down the Mean Green’s throats.

UNT was terrific last season defensively, but two of the guys who were the best against the run graduated in big defensive tackle Richard Abbe and middle linebacker Zach Orr.

John Skladany will have a good plan for the Mean Green’s game in Austin. Last season showed why Dan McCarney consistently refers to Skladany as one of the best defensive coordinators in the business. The question is if UNT can figure out a way to hold up in a game it will be significantly smaller in a season it will play an undersized line.

McCarney is big on rotating players to keep them fresh. That will help. It just won’t make that size differential any different.

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