North Texas offensive lineman Cyril Lemon, far right, will start at right tackle when the Mean Green opens the season at Texas on Saturday. Lemon helped guide UNT last UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl last season. (The Dallas Morning News/Sarah Hoffman)
UNT released its depth chart this week in advance of its season-opener at Texas. The big news of the day was that Josh Greer won the starting quarterback job, which we posted some thoughts about yesterday.
There was a whole lot more of interest to get to as far as the depth chart goes, so let’s get to it with a few moves that stand out …
– Shawn McKinney ended up winning the fifth starting spot on the offensive line.
We hinted at this late in fall practice, but Shawn “Snacks” McKinney (love that nickname) edged out Ryan Rentfo for the fifth starting line spot. That means that Cyril Lemon will move to right tackle. Dan McCarney and Mike Simmonds are all about getting their five best guys on the field.
There are two ways to look at the move.
A. UNT is putting five huge guys out there and McKinney showed last year that he can play. McKinney is 358 pounds and that makes UNT even bigger up front than it would have been otherwise — 1,601 pounds to be exact. That’s 320 pounds a man. UNT might not be able to wear down a team like Texas, but it will do a lot of damage most of the year. Rentfro is also a big guy at 313 pounds. UNT didn’t exactly gain a huge amount of size with McKinney, but it did become add a little mustard on the sandwich.
B. Lemon can play anywhere on the line, but his best position is guard. UNT not only moves Lemon out of his best spot, it also breaks up the interior line combination of center Kaydon Kirby, Lemon and Mason Y’Barbo that was so effective last year. Granted McKinney was always in the rotation, but it is something to consider.
– Sid Moore and Chad Polk will start on the defensive line.
One of the more baffling issues UNT has faced in its time under Dan McCarney, who is entering his fourth season is that
the Mean Green remains undersized up front on defense. McCarney called UNT one of the smallest and slowest Division I teams he has ever seen when he arrived. Spending his entire career at places like Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa State and Iowa no doubt made coming to UNT and the world of mid-major recruiting a bit of a shock. All these years later, UNT is still on the small side and will now start Sid Moore (257 pounds) and Alexander Lincoln (275 pounds) at defensive tackle and Chad Polk (231 pounds) Daryl Mason (247 pounds) at defensive end. Dutton Watson (283 pounds) and Austin Orr (277 pounds) are a little bigger and will come off the bench.
McCarney has emphasized that his rotation and playing eight to 10 guys will help. I just don’t think there is any question that being that small on the defensive line is going to be an issue at some point. And let’s not forget. Mr. Fix It Zach Orr is not going to be back there to fill those gaps like he once was.
– Reggie Pegam will start over Antoinne Jimmerson.
McCarney hinted at this in the fall, saying that Pegram looks really good in practice. Both guys will play, but the fact that Pegram will start is a testament to the work he put in since tearing his ACL late last season.
– Fred Scott gets the nod over Anthony Wallace.
Scott, a sophomore, will move into Orr’s spot after beating out Wallace, a highly regarded Oregon transfer. Both guys will play, but it just goes to show that it’s never safe to assume that every transfer is going to come in, win a starting job and become an impact player like Marcus Trice did.
– Sheldon Wade, Kishawn McClain and John Schilleci make the depth chart at safety.
UNT knew Lairamie Lee would start at one safety spot, but the rest of the way that spot shapes up is at least a little bit of a surprise. We knew all along that Sheldon Wade would have a chance to start, but after injuries forced Zed Evans to give up football, UNT went all the way to California to sign JUCO transfer Matthew Dash. Not only did Wade, an Austin Peay transfer win the job, McClain, a freshman, slid into the backup spot. Schilleci is now the backup behind Lee. Dash will play somewhere. It’s just surprising to see him left off the depth chart. We talked to him about potentially starting not to long ago.