UNT OL outlook for 2017: Mean Green look to improve up front

North Texas tackle Jordan Murray (71) helped protect quarterback Mason Fine during a season of transition for the Mean Green's offensive line. (Denton Record-Chronicle/Jeff Woo)

North Texas tackle Jordan Murray (71) helped protect quarterback Mason Fine during a season of transition for the Mean Green’s offensive line. (Denton Record-Chronicle/Jeff Woo)

Key returnees: Jordan Murray (junior), T.J. Henson (senior), Chris Miles (junior), Elex Woodworth (sophomore), Jalen Thomas (senior), Wylie Reinhardt (senior), Creighton Barr (junior)

Key losses: Sam Rice (graduation), Trey Keenan (graduation),

Newcomers: Jevin Pahinui (junior), Chandler Anthony (redshirt freshman), Dakoda Newman (freshman), Jacob Brammer (freshman), Brian Parish (freshman), Manase Mose (freshman)

Biggest unanswered question: UNT struggled at times along its offensive front in its first season in a spread system and will go through a series of changes heading into 2017. The Mean Green lost offensive line coach Brad Davis to Florida and saw two of its veteran starters graduate in Rice and Keenan. UNT has yet to officially announce Davis’ replacement, but former Lamar offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Chuck Langston is the leading candidate for the job and is expected to be officially introduced in the next few days. The question is if UNT can continue to improve in a season it is undergoing so much change.

Why 2017 production could be better: One of the big questions heading into Seth Littrell’s first season was if UNT’s offensive line could make the adjustment from playing in a run-first system to a spread passing attack. The Mean Green struggled at times and used four different lineups along its offensive front, but improved as the season went along. UNT’s players should be much more comfortable in the system heading into Littrell’s season season.

Why 2017 production could be worse: UNT will have to replace two of its veteran players in Rice and Keenan. Rice played guard and center last season, while Keenan played the entire year at right tackle. The Mean Green will have to find quality replacements if they expect to improve.

Overall outlook: UNT lost two of its key offensive linemen in Rice and Keenan, but should be better overall due to the experience the rest of the Mean Green’s linemen gained in Littrell’s first year.

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