North Texas will open its season by hosting traditional rival SMU on Saturday at Apogee Stadium. The two programs have struggled in recent years and will look to get a jump on posting a winning season in a showdown on Metroplex teams.
Here are five things UNT fans should know about the Mustangs:
1. Matt Davis is back at quarterback for SMU
Davis has enjoyed a solid career at SMU and is coming off a season in which he threw for 2,263 yards and rushed for 761 yards. The senior was included on the preseason Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award Watch List. Davis said in the preseason that he is trying to stay in the pocket more and run less. He gave UNT fits last season when he threw an 8-yard touchdown pass and scored on runs that covered 50 and 14 yards in the fourth quarter of a 31-13 win over the Mean Green.
2. SMU has never won a game in Denton
The Mustangs have dominated their series with UNT, but have never won a game in Denton. The all-time tally is 29-5-1 in favor of SMU. The Mean Green are 2-0 at Fouts Field and 1-0 at Apogee Stadium. UNT’s 43-6 win over the Mustangs in 2014 at Apogee is the largest margin of victory for the Mean Green in the series.
3. SMU has a couple of former Denton standouts on its roster
Alex Honey, who played for Denton Guyer, is listed second on SMU’s depth chart at wide receiver and is expected to play against the Mean Green. J.T. Williams, a defensive tackle who played for Denton Ryan before a short stint at Trinity Valley Community College, is also on the Mustangs’ roster.
4. The Mustangs offensive line could be one of their weaker units
SMU lost starting left tackle Chad Pursley to a season-ending knee injury in fall camp. That was a big loss to the Mustangs line that is not one of its strongest units. Nick Natour moved into the starting lineup to replace Pursley. SMU gave up 41 sacks last season. UNT’s coaches believe their defensive line will be one of their stronger units.
5. SMU’s defense struggled last season
SMU’s defense was even worse than UNT’s was last season from a statistical point of view. UNT allowed 42.1 points a game, while SMU coughed up 45.7. The Mustangs return seven starters on defense and are hoping experience in Van Malone’s system will help them improve. The former UNT assistant is SMU’s defensive coordinator.