McCarney addresses holding call

Dan McCarney addressed what he thought was a blatantly bad call during UNT’s loss to Southern Miss today.

Yeah, we’re talking about the holding call on Antonio Johnson on what would have been a 52-yard touchdown pass to Antoinne Jimmerson.

After looking at it on film, McCarney emphatically said that it was a clean block all the way.

UNT has turned the tape in to the league office for interpretation.

“We teach it; we coach it,” McCarney said. “We are waiting for an interpretation right now because Antonio Johnson did exactly what we hoped he would do out there in the open field. That was one of the best executed offensive plays we have had all year.”

In some instances, holding calls are in the eye of the beholder. Johnson was making a block down the field against a defender in open space. We watched the replay in the press box and the call on TV. The announcers said they thought it was a hold.

I knew immediately when the flag came out that was going to be the call.

I definitely think McCarney has a point. Jimmerson is in the clear no matter what. All Johnson has to do is get in the way.

Did Johnson have his hands on the outside of the defender’s shoulder pads, drawing the flag? That’s the only thing that makes sense and is likely what the official saw.

The call just seems like another bad break in a long line of them in a tough season for UNT.

And in a side note, Phil Steele’s put out its midway All-Conference USA team. Derek Akunne, Chad Polk and Cyril Lemon all made the team.

UNT press conference notes

Andrew McNulty will make his second straight start at quarterback for UNT on Saturday when the Mean Green travel to Houston to take on a surging Rice team that has won three straight.

UNT coach Dan McCarney made the announcement at his Monday press conference following a 30-20 loss to Southern Miss on Saturday, the Mean Green’s third straight setback.

McNulty had his moments against  Southern Miss last week and made a big enough impression to hang on to the job for another week. The Iowa native threw for 287 yards while not turning the ball over.

That made a big impression of McCarney, who saw his team turned the ball over seven times in its previous two games. McNulty is the third player to start at quarterback for UNT this year, following Josh Greer and Dajon Williams, who each started three games.

The quarterback announcement was the highlight of the press conference, but there were several other items of note, including …

– UNT wide receiver Carlos Harris was named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Southern Miss. He caught 15 passes for 216 yards.

– Running back Jeffrey Wilson, who carried the ball twice in UNT’s lost to Southern Miss, should be back at 100 percent this week, which will strengthen the Mean Green’s running back rotation.

– UNT could also have starting safety Sheldon Wade, key backup cornerback Zac Whitfield and backup defensive end Tillman Johnson back this week. UNT will find out for sure in the next 24 hours.

– Defensive tackle Dutton Watson is having ankle surgery and might be back for the end of the year, but will be out for a while.

– McCarney said that he doesn’t see any effort issues with his team that has now lost three straight games and at 2-5 is up against the wall in terms of reaching the six-win mark to become bowl-eligible.

– UNT will turn the tape of a holding call on Antonio Johnson that brought back what would have been a 52-yard touchdown pass on a short ball to running back Antoinne Jimmerson in the second half into the league office. McCarney said Johnson did exactly what UNT’s coaches teach. From the replay on television in the press box, it looked like officials called Johnson for the hold after seeing his hands on the outside of the defender’s shoulder pads while pushing him downfield. It’s a moot point now, but we could hear sometime in the next few days what league office says.

– And from Barry Horn at the DMN, the UNT-Southern Miss game had a high TV rating than the Texas Tech-Kansas State game.


“I haven’t sensed any loyalty issues. I haven’t sensed any selfishness issues. I haven’t sensed any effort issues when you watch our team. Those things are really good when you watch a team as a head coach. We have to keep moving forward and get better at some things that will help us get over the hump and win some games.”

– UNT coach Dan McCarney, whose team

“I am really proud of Andy McNulty. He will start again if he practices well this week. He was 20 out of 35 and had 287 yards and zero turnovers after we had seven turnovers the previous two weeks. We had 70 more yards on the field with drops and the touchdown that was called back.”

– McCarney

“It was a great experience for me. I have had a lot of learning experiences since I’ve been here being behind [former UNT quarterback] Derek Thompson and going through the start of this season. I used those to help me improve my game.”

– McNulty on his third career start and second of the season last week against Southern Miss.

Sunday leftovers, UNT salvages weekend (recruiting tidbit)

It’s time for your weekly Sunday leftovers, where we hit on some of the news of the weekend and go over the highs and the lows of what went down in the land of the Mean Green.

First off, it looks like the guys at over at 247Sports will have an update tomorrow on Jerminic Smith, the younger brother of Darnell Smith, a former UNT wide receiver who walked on and was a pretty key contributor to last season’s Heart of Dallas Bowl team.

From the sounds of it, Smith has a lot of interest in Iowa.

UNT could pull this one out, but the odds seem long. Texas Tech is also in the picture.

The disheartening thing about it for UNT is that it has already seen both of the younger brothers of former Mean Green great Zach Orr decide to go elsewhere. Nick Orr has played in every game for TCU and has an interception and a tackle this year. Chris Orr is headed to Wisconsin.

It would be nice to land Smith and not end up 0-for-3 on younger brothers of bowl team members.

The problem is all three are Power 5-level prospects. Then again, those are the kind of guys who could really make a difference for UNT.

As far as the weekend goes, we have hashed and rehashed the UNT football team’s 30-20 loss to Southern Miss.

It really looked like things were going to go down the drain when both the UNT soccer and volleyball teams lost as well in their first games of the weekend.

The good news is the UNT volleyball team rebound from a loss to Charlotte that extended its losing streak to three matches to beat hapless Louisiana Tech 3-0 to even its C-USA record at 4-4. Louisiana Tech is now 0-8 in league play. That win left UNT in seventh place in the league standings. Eight teams make the conference tournament.

The UNT soccer team also lost a game this weekend, falling to Florida Atlantic, 2-0, before bouncing back to beat Florida International 2-1.

UNT is in first place in the conference standings at 5-1-1 with three games left. Win out and the soccer crew becomes the first UNT program to win a C-USA title. Our money was on John Hedlund’s team to win that first title all along. UNT came up just short last year, falling in the conference tournament final to Colorado College.

The UNT soccer team finished second to Colorado College in the regular season as well.

Rickey Brice talks about his visit to UNT

UNT coach Tony Benford has told his players repeatedly throughout the preseason that they would have to rebound by committee this year due to a lack of a conventionally sized college big man.

He reiterated that point again on Saturday, when Rickey Brice, a player who could change that, spent the day touring campus on an official visit.

The Arlington Pantego Christian Academy standout checks in at an even 7 feet and is one of the more highly recruited players in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

UNT has made Brice a recruiting priority and caught his attention. Brice has been to UNT three times already in the last few months.

Benford and his staff officially offered Brice a scholarship on Wednesday before hosting him for the weekend.

“I am big on family,” Brice said Saturday. “I like brotherhood and want to go somewhere I will have a good bond with my teammates.”

Brice feels like he might have found what he is looking for at UNT. Members of the Mean Green’s staff have checked in on Brice regularly over the last few weeks.

Brice’s parents accompanied him on his official visit and were at UNT’s practice on Saturday morning.

“I am leaning toward signing with North Texas,” Brice said.

Texas State is among the teams that jumped into the race to land Brice early on.

Brice said he has also received offers from USC, UCLA, Texas, Oklahoma State, Temple, St. Louis and Texas Tech.

While UNT is leading for Brice’s services at this point, he said he could wait until next year to finalize his decision.

Brice would be a key addition to UNT’s 2015 recruiting class. rates Brice at No. 23 on its list of the top players in the state in the Class of 2015.

Brice averaged 15.3 points and 7.4 rebounds a game as a junior last season for Pantego Christian.

UNT has already picked up a commitment from Ja’Michael Brown, a guard who will play the upcoming season at Pro-Vision Academy.

Brown is ranked as the 37th-best player in the state by

Five quick thoughts (updated)

Now that I have had a chance to file all my stories, stat boxes and various other material for two papers and make the trek home, here are five quick (and now expanded) thoughts after UNT’s 30-20 loss to Southern Miss at Apogee Stadium:

1. The move to McNulty seemed to pay off

UNT turned to Andrew McNulty at quarterback, its third starter this season. The move seemed like it came out of desperation to a certain degree after Josh Greer and Dajon Williams didn’t prove to be the right fit for UNT’s offense. McNulty drove the bus effectively. He didn’t make many mistakes, which is what coach Dan McCarney wants.

Yeah, UNT only managed 20 points against the Golden Eagles. That’s not great. But haven’t we gotten to the point where we know great isn’t magically going to appear out of left field?

UNT scored 21 points last week and had three turnovers (a fumble and two interceptions returned for touchdowns). That equates to a 0-0 wash. Dajon Williams threw two interceptions in UNT’s loss to Indiana.

Dan McCarney said there were some positives to in the way McNulty played and that he isn’t going to put a quarterback on the field if he turns the ball over.

McNulty did what he was asked to do. In that regard, the move paid dividends.

2. Carlos Harris continues to shine, but UNT leans on him too much

Carlos Harris had another monster night for UNT and finished with career highs in catches with 15 and yards with 216. He’s a great player, but UNT needs some other threats to emerge. Four other players combined for five catches. That just isn’t going to cut it.

3. UNT’s defense just isn’t what it was

UNT had a terrific defense last year when the Mean Green ranked among the nation’s leaders in several categories. The Mean Green just aren’t the same this year. There are no two ways about it. Southern Miss was able to run the ball effectively against UNT all night. The Golden Eagles have struggled offensively all season.

Granted, Southern Miss has shown signs of coming on and scored 31 points last week. And yes, the Golden Eagles totals are skewed by a 49-0 loss to Mississippi State and a 52-12 loss to Alabama, a couple of national powers, but the bottom line is Southern Miss was averaging 18.8 points a game and 91.0 rushing yards a game.

Southern Miss torched UNT for 30 points, 201 rushing yards and 506 total yards.

UNT just doesn’t seem to have the horses this year. We knew UNT would miss some of the key guys from last year, including Zach Orr and Marcus Trice, but no one saw this coming.

4. UNT is giving up too many key plays in big spots

Good teams make the key plays when they have to. UNT is struggling in that regard. Southern Miss converted a fake punt in a key spot and made a host of big plays when it had to in order to win. UNT just isn’t making the big plays it did a year ago.

That fake punt that helped extend a drive the resulted in a touchdown that put Southern Miss up 20-13 early in the third quarter was a killer. Southern Miss called it in a perfect spot and had punter Tyler Sarazin convert on an 11-yard run on fourth-and-9.

Southern Miss didn’t have a lot of plays that covered a ton of yards, but seemed to convert in key spots. The Golden Eagles converted on seven of their 13 third downs on the night.

5. UNT’s bowl hopes are nearly gone

It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that UNT somehow finds a way to rally back from a 2-5 start to win six games, the minimum it needs to get to a bowl game. The chances seem pretty slim at this point though. UNT might have to wait until next year to get back to the postseason.

Derek Akunne said UNT could still get there. McCarney said he wouldn’t look past UNT’s next game.

There is little doubt things look bleak now, though.

UNT-Southern Miss preview, running blog

UNT will kick off its game against Southern Miss here at Apogee Stadium shortly.

The Mean Green come into this one riding a two-game losing streak and are on the verge of reaching a series of dubious milestones if they can’t snap their slide today. UNT hasn’t lost three straight games under Dan McCarney since the first three games of his tenure with the Mean Green.

UNT has never lost three straight conference games under McCarney.

We said earlier in the week that career backup Andrew McNulty could make his first start since his his freshman season back in 2011. McNulty started in place of his good friend Derek Thompson in a 41-24 loss after Thompson was injured in the days leading up to the game.

Now it’s official …

McNulty has been the guy UNT has brought off the bench in case of emergency ever since. McNulty threw for 167 yards after replacing Dajon Williams late in the second half of last week’s loss to UAB.

That performance was enough to earn him a shot to lead UNT out of its funk today.

McNulty is a dual-threat quarterback like Williams. He just isn’t as big and doesn’t have the big arm Williams does. He will be the third quarterback to start for UNT this year, following Josh Greer, who started the first three games, and Williams who started the last three.

The feeling is that McNulty is a player who won’t kill UNT with mistakes and turnovers. Williams made a ton of mistakes against UAB and had two interceptions and a fumble returned for a touchdown.

UNT will likely try to pound the ball up the middle and not ask McNulty to win the game.

Stay tuned, we will update the blog all day.

5:34 — UNT is pretty beaten up. I am waiting for official list of guys who will not play, but I can see Zac Whitfield down on the field in shorts. Safety Sheldon Wade is also out. Lairamie Lee is out there with UNT’s starting defense and looks like he will be back this week.

5:37 — There are a ton of recruits here for today’s game. They are making their way into the stands now.

5:47 — UNT will also be without backup defensive end Tillman Johnson. UNT is going to be a little shorthanded across the board defensively.

5:56 — I’m not the best judge of crowd size, but it does seem pretty empty in Apogee today. There are about three half full sections of the student section across the way. The hill where most students hang out before coming into the game also seems pretty empty.

5:58 — Here is a link to my advance for today’s game in case you missed it.

Kickoff — Southern Miss won the toss and deferred. UNT will have the ball to start the game. Here comes Mac and Mac — Dan McCarney (coach) and Andrew McNulty (quarterback).

13:35 — UNT moved the ball and picked up a couple of first downs on its first drive, but elected to punt on fourth-and-1 and just missed getting to the ball to down it. USM has the ball at the 20.

11:43 — USM is on the board. Michael Thomas caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Nick Mullens. The killer play on the drive was a face mask penalty on Sir Calvin Wallace on third down when UNT had made the stop.

10:46 — We are in a review of a pass play from Andrew McNulty to Darvin Kidsy that gave UNT a first down on third-and-3. It looked like a good catch to me.

11:00 — There is bad break there for UNT. Officials had a better look at the play and ruled that Darvin Kidsy dropped what would have been a 10-yard pass that would have given UNT a first down. USM has the ball at its 37-yard line.

6:45 — UNT came up with a huge play defensively on USM’s last possession. Kishawn McClain intercepted a ball after USM had driven to the Mean Green’s 35. The Golden Eagles looked like they were about to tag on to their lead. That was a huge play. UNT had to punt it away after the turnovers

1:24 — USM has tacked on a 38-yard field goal to take a 10-0 lead. Derek Akunne made a great stop on a quarterback draw on third down to prevent the Golden Eagles from extending that drive.

End of the first quarter — UNT is down 10-0, but has the ball at the USM 20 after Carlos Harris caught a 45-yard pass from Andrew McNulty on a double move. McNulty had forever back there in the pocket.

14:29 — UNT is on the board. Antoinne Jimmerson pushed his way in from two yards out. McNulty hit Carlos Harris for a 45-yard gain to spark that drive. UNT has pulled to within 10-7.

10:23 — UNT has come up with another big turnover. Lairamie Lee intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone. That is the second turnover UNT has forced.

6:14 — UNT has tied the game at 10-10 on a 36-yard Trevor Moore field goal. The Mean Green were in a tough spot there after going down 10-0, but have righted the ship here a bit.

4:21 — UNT came up with a big stop there. Southern Miss went three-and-out. UNT will have the ball back at its 40-yard line with 4:02 left in the half.

1:50 — UNT has driven to the USM 7-yard line. It’s third-and-goal. USM just called a timeout.

Halftime — Catching up here. UNT and USM traded field goals late in the first half. UNT settled for a Trevor Moore 24-yard field goal on its last possession of the first half. USM answered with a 10-play drive that Corey Acosta capped with a 27-yard field goal on the final play of the half. It’s 13-13. The key to the first half was two turnovers UNT forced, both deep in its own end of the field. USM reached UNT’s 35 before Kishawn McClain intercepted a Nick Mullens pass. Lairamie Lee intercepted a second Mullens pass after USM reached the Mean Green’s 8-yard line on another possession.

14:55 — USM has the ball at its 23-yard line to start the second half.

12:17 — USM has regained the lead on a 5-yard George Payne run. The key play on that drive was a perfectly executed fake punt on fourth-and-9. The punter carried it right up the middle for 12 yards.

6:08 — UNT has tied it back up at 20-20 on a Reggie Pegram 27-yard run. UNT converted two key third downs on that drive on a passes that covered 27 and 12 yards to Carlos Harris. Southern Miss just doesn’t have an answer for Harris.

1:43 — USM has gone back up on a Nick Mullens pass. The Golden Eagles are up 27-20.

:45 — UNT had to punt it away. USM has the ball at the UNT 49-yard line. UNT needs a stop here.

Start of the fourth quarter — UNT is down 27-20 heading into the fourth quarter. USM has the ball at the UNT 41-yard line and is looking to open up a little breathing room.

12:01 — UNT is now down 30-20 after USM tacked on a field goal to go up two scores. USM had great field position at UNT’s 48-yard line to start that drive.

8:29 — UNT has driven down the field, but has stalled out at the USM 16-yard line. Carlos Harris is down. UNT will go for the field goal.

8:07 — That was a killer right there. A low snap seemed to throw Trevor Moore off. He pushed a 33-yard field goal wide left. UNT is down 30-20 and needs two scores. USM has the ball and is going to run it every chance it gets now.

I’m headed down. I will be back.

UNT men’s basketball open practice live blog

UNT is having a rare open practice for its men’s basketball team today.

I am here, along with five other people not on the UNT payroll to do a little live blogging before tonight’s football game between the Mean Green and Southern Miss.

We are a full service operation here on the MGB.

First off, a couple of quick hitters:

– T.J. Taylor is still out while working on rehab following knee surgery as expected.

– Freshman guard Greg White-Pittman is out with a minor injury and should be back next week.

11:48 — This is nothing new, but UNT continues to be high on JUCO transfer DeAndre Harris. I have been here for just a couple of minutes, but Harris made a pretty nice defensive play to get block a shot in one-on-one drills. The feeling is that Harris will start for this team one way or another. UNT’s lineup all hinges on whether or not J-Mychal Reese gets a waiver from the NCAA and is eligible just one season after leaving Texas A&M. Reese starts at the point if he gets that waiver.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that happens.

We could then see a lineup of Reese, Harris, Jordan Williams, Colin Voss and a forward to be named later.

Things get interesting, depending on whether or not T.J. Taylor is ready to go at the start of the season.

There are a number of guys who could fit into that fourth spot, including Armani Flannigan or JUCO transfer Muhammed Ahmed.

11:57 — Tony Benford emphasized to his team what he has said a few times in the preseason: UNT will have to rebound by committee. UNT doesn’t have a whole lot of size. Jeremy Combs, Armani Flannigan and Muhammed Ahmed all look like carbon copies of each other. Colin Voss has some added beef, but that’s about it. It’s going to be a fight for UNT to hold up down there.

12:04 — UNT is shooting free throws. The Mean Green shot 68 percent from the line last year, but that total was drug down quite a bit by Armani Flannigan, who shot 28.6 percent. The goal is to get that total closer to 75 percent.

12:15 — Rickey Brice, a 7-footer from Dallas, is on campus today for an official visit. Brice is rated No. 23 on’s list of the top players in Texas in the Class of 2015. UNT is at a point now where it lacks size inside. It isn’t a big problem most of the time in Conference USA. UTEP is about the only team out there with overwhelming size, but adding a big guy certainly wouldn’t hurt matters with Colin Voss finishing up this year.

12:28 — UNT is working on its defense. That has been a huge point of emphasis under Benford. UNT really struggled in conference play last year. The Mean Green ranked 15th out of the 16 teams in Conference USA with an average of 72.4 points allowed a game in league play.

12:32 — Another key point about Rickey Brice. This is his second visit to campus. He was here earlier in the year on an unofficial visit. It sounds like UNT has a good shot at him.

12:40 — And there we go. Brice just came back in to practice after touring campus. He’s standing next to Colin Voss and looks like he is a couple of inches taller. It’s hard to tell from this far away. It looks like his family is here with him, which makes sense considering this is an official visit.

12:56 — UNT is running through some five-on-zero offensive drills. Everyone does. What is interesting is who is playing together. In green — Reese, Voss, Flannigan, Williams and Aniefiok. That could end up being a starting lineup.

1:05 — It’s pretty obvious that Armani Flannigan has beefed up a little bit in the offseason.

1:15 — UNT is going to scrimmage here for a couple of minutes. It;s the same lineup in green. In white, we have Harris, Eaglin, Ahmed, Ward and Combs.

1:24 — We talked a little over the last few days about how much better UNT’s roster fits what the Mean Green wants to do in terms of getting up and down the floor. UNT’s big guys are clearly better in that regard. Muhammed Ahmed has shown the ability to handle it in the open floor here in this scrimmage.

And we are out.

A couple of key points here about UNT’s game against Southern Miss

Here are a couple of Friday night leftovers …

I checked in for official word, and officially, who will start at quarterback for UNT against Southern Miss tomorrow will be a game-time decision. I still believe that the decision has been made.

Dan McCarney is on record saying that UNT will pick between Dajon Williams, who has started the last three games, and Andrew McNulty. All signs point to McNulty getting the start.

It’s my gut feeling that is what will end up happening.

Another key point that never found its way into anything I have written this week is that Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens made the first start of his career against UNT last season. UNT beat him up a bit in a 55-14 win. The Mean Green posted four sacks and three interceptions. It will be interesting to see how far he has come since then.

MGB video: Tony Benford talks about his team, upcoming season

Here is the video I shot at Conference USA media day with Tony Benford. We talked a little about his team and the upcoming season.

MGB video: UNT women’s coach Mike Petersen talks team, season

Here is a video I shot with Mike Petersen at Conference USA media day in Birmingham. Petersen talks a little about his team and UNT’s upcoming season.