Issuing the Mean Green Morale Collapse Watch

It’s been a while since it has come to this, but judging by the tone of the UNT fan base this week, it’s time to issue the Mean Green Morale Collapse Watch.

We haven’t gone this far in a long time, but the circumstances seem dire at this point.

UNT is 0-3 in football and is facing a long road to jump into the race in Conference USA. To make matters worse, UNT spit the bit in a huge season-opening game at SMU, perhaps the Mean Green’s most bitter rival.

UNT also lost at home to Rice.

A 62-16 whacking at Iowa last week only made matters worse.

The road to a winning season was going to be a tough one for UNT to begin with because of a brutal schedule and now looks even more daunting. The Mean Green still have to travel to Tennessee, Marshall and Louisiana Tech. A home game against Western Kentucky also looms.

UNT could get it turned around, but the chances don’t look all that great.

Another losing season this year would leave UNT with just one winning campaign in its last 11. The Mean Green were supposed to be heading to better times because of the addition of Apogee Stadium, the move to Conference USA and an increased budget. To some extent that has been true, but the bottom line results are not improving as quickly as most UNT fans had hoped.

This has been pointed out by a few UNT fans over the last few weeks, but even when the Mean Green were struggling in football a few years ago, the men’s basketball program was playing well. UNT won at least 18 games a year and made the NCAA tournament twice from the 2006-07 season through the 2011-12 season.

Now UNT hasn’t enjoyed a winning season since and attendance has plummeted. The hope is UNT turns it around this year, but the Mean Green lost several of their key players, including Jordan Williams, after last season.

The UNT women’s basketball team is working on a string of nine straight losing seasons heading into the first season of Jalie Mitchell’s tenure. She will have a great chance to turn the program around, but will need some time.

UNT is playing well in a lot of its Olympic sports, including soccer and volleyball. But even those coaches will tell you that it’s the Big Three that set the tone.

The Mean Green desperately need something to go right, and quickly. A win on Saturday at Southern Miss would help a ton. The odds just seem long at this point — about 10 to 15 points long, if you look at the Las Vegas odds.

I hear from UNT fans quite a bit. I just haven’t sense this much of a sense of hopelessness in a long time.

UNT hoping meetings help turn the tide



UNT head coach Dan McCarney mentioned at his press conference this week that the Mean Green had what sounded like a series of meetings with the key leaders on the roster in the hope of sparking a turnaround after an 0-3 start.

UNT has its captains and a leadership council as well.

Those key players got together with McCarney to discuss the state of matters following a 62-16 loss to Iowa. McCarney said adversity is uniting UNT’s players rather than dividing them.

I go into what was said more in the paper tomorrow, but one quote from McCarney stood out that I wanted to point out on the blog.

“Our attitude in practice has been inconsistent, which we addressed with the leaders of our football team last night,” McCarney said. “Are you going through this or are you growing through this? There is a big difference. Are you going through it, showing up, practicing, counting periods or are you growing? If you’re growing, you’re improving. If you’re growing, you are taking responsibility for what you are not doing well and are trying to do better. If you get better, then we can get better as a unit, on a side of the ball and get better as a football team.”

It was an interesting take that raises the question of if UNT has that drive and leadership in place at the top. Remember, this is a team that lost Kenny Buyers for the season already. He was one of the Mean Green’s top guys from a leadership standpoint.

UNT still has some guys who fit the profile like Kaydon Kirby and Anthony Wallace.

The question now is if the Mean Green can pull together in a tough spot.

It’s two totally different situations, but UNT really got it going after a mediocre start in 2013 behind guys like Zach Orr, Marcus Trice and Derek Thompson and ended up winning nine games. Those seniors were a big reason for that run to a bowl game.

What I thought was interesting was the fact that McCarney went to his team leaders early this week in the hope that they will provide a spark.

The Mean Green will see if they are up to the task Saturday, when UNT travels to Southern Miss.

Tuesday afternoon notes — NCAA drops hammer on SMU, McCarney on Smith

The NCAA dropped the hammer on SMU today for a series of rules violations.

No, the news is not directly related to UNT. SMU isn’t even in the same conference, but the schools compete for recruits in some cases and attention in the Dallas area. Plus, UNT fans despise SMU in every way imaginable.

The key part of the penalty is SMU receiving a one-year postseason ban in men’s basketball.

SMU has been on the rise under legendary coach Larry Brown and had clearly moved past UNT in the Dallas area basketball pecking order after the Mean Green’s run of success that included six straight seasons with at least 18 wins and two NCAA tournament appearances under Johnny Jones fizzled out over the last three years.

I doubt the case has a huge impact on SMU in the long run, not with with the way the school has the program set up with Brown, former UNT coach Tim Jankovich waiting in the wings and talent stacked up on the roster.

On the football front, we asked some of the questions UNT fans have been wanting answers to as far as UNT’s quarterback situation goes. The cries for DaMarcus Smith to get a shot are continuing after UNT fell to 0-3 following a loss to Iowa last week. Here’s today’s story.

Smith came in as a highly regarded junior college recruit, but missed spring practice.

Andrew McNulty has worked his tail off and earned the job. After three straight losses, the question is if UNT shouldn’t at least take a look at Smith.

Here’s what UNT coach Dan McCarney had to say yesterday.

“We would like to use Smith more if he is more consistent in practice,” McCarney said. “That is what we are looking for. He has athleticism that he has had since high school and junior college, but you have to have that trust factor with the guy out there taking the snap. It’s getting better each day, but it is not where we want it yet.”

UNT’s coaches have told Smith he must reach that point to have a chance to win the quarterback job.

“We expect him to improve and get better,” McCarney said. “That is DaMarcus’ responsibility; not anyone else’s. He has to learn, execute and earn trust. He is not giving up, packing his bags and looking for another school. He has done enough of that in his career. This is where he belongs. He needs to get more consistent. If he does that, he will get more playing time because he does have talent. There is no doubt about it.”

Quick Dan McCarney press conference notes, Chad Davis video



The video at the top of this post is of UNT cornerback Chad Davis discussing Saturday’s game at Southern Miss.

UNT coach Dan McCarney spoke with the media today in advance of Saturday’s game at Southern Miss. The Mean Green are coming off a tough 62-16 loss to Iowa and are sitting at 0-3.

Here are a few news items of note:

– The big news of the day is that DaMarcus Smith has moved up to share the backup quarterback spot with Josh Greer. Smith was running with the third team. Andrew McNulty is still the Mean Green’s starter. McCarney said all three need to play better. Neither Smith or Greer had a chance to do much of anything at the end of UNT’s loss to Iowa, but Greer threw an interception the Hawkeyes returned for a touchdown.

– McCarney said the return of running back Jeffrey Wilson, who made his season debut against Iowa and finished with 74 rushing yards, will be a huge boost for the Mean Green. Iowa came in allowing 51 rushing yards a game.

– The return of wide receiver Turner Smiley, who missed UNT’s loss to Rice before returning in the Mean Green’s loss to Iowa, is also expected to provide a boost.

– McCarney noted that UNT rushed for more than 200 yards against the Hawkeyes before sacks knocked its total down to 183.

– Starting middle linebacker Blake Bean’s status is a day-to-day issue. He missed UNT’s game against Iowa with an undisclosed injury.

– Michael Banogu started at left tackle over freshman Jordan Murray due to performance in practice. The two will battle it out again this week.

– McCarney said he did not see a Tweet by backup offensive lineman Ryan Rentfro after UNT’s loss to Iowa …

Rentfro criticized UNT’s fans for not supporting the team — and individual players — at a time the team is struggling.

The Sunday leftovers — Thoughts on UNT’s loss to Iowa

Iowa running back Derrick Mitchell is chased down by North Texas safety Kishawn McClain, right, and linebacker Calvin Minor on Saturday at  Kinnick Stadium. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

Iowa running back Derrick Mitchell is chased down by North Texas safety Kishawn McClain, right, and linebacker Calvin Minor on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

The Sunday Leftovers are normally a recap of what took place over the weekend with some thoughts thrown in.

We are changing things up a little this week. I usually update my Five Quick Thoughts following UNT’s games with a more detailed look at what took place.

Since I didn’t get a chance last night/this morning, I wanted to hit on some items and thoughts tonight.

The immediate reaction following UNT being blasted 62-16 is to declare Mean Green football forever DOA.

I get that, but the Mean Green did play a team on the verge of cracking the Top 25 on the road. There have been easier sets of circumstances that teams have faced. It’s also not the first time UNT has been taken to the woodshed on the road.

Alabama blasted UNT 41-0 back in 2011.

UNT is in a world of hurt at 0-3, but falling at SMU and losing at home to Rice were probably worse losses from anything other than an ego perspective.

Some other facts to consider …

– UNT is ranked 116 nationally in total defense with an average of 498 yards allowed a game. UNT brought on a host of junior college recruits to help bolster a unit that had to replace some key players after last season. Some of them are playing well, including James Gray and Blake Bean, but the Mean Green are struggling overall after the retirement of coordinator John Skladany. Chris Cosh is a proven coordinator and knows what he’s doing. UNT just hasn’t seemed to adjust. Coach Dan McCarney said after the game that everyone has to do a better job from coaches to players. UNT had better figure out its issues quickly.

– There were some good signs with UNT in terms of it running game. Iowa was only giving up 51 yards a game, a total that ranked among the nation’s best. UNT rolled up 183 rushing yards. The duo of Jeffrey Wilson, who made his season debut against Iowa, and Antoinne Jimmerson will give teams problems the rest of the season.

– The big elephant in the room, though, is UNT’s quarterback situation. Andrew McNulty had his moments against Iowa and struggled in others. It’s pretty clear that he is a better option than Josh Greer. What one has to wonder is if UNT doesn’t need to at least give DaMarcus Smith a look. I’m not saying make a switch, but at least give Smith a meaningful series or look at working him in during certain situations. I get more into that idea in the paper tomorrow. McNulty went 14-for-36 for 137 yards and an interception in UNT’s loss to Iowa.

Five quick thoughts

Here are five quick thoughts following UNT’s 62-16 loss to Iowa that I will update later.

1. UNT is in a really tough spot now

Before the season began, the consensus was UNT had a really tough schedule. We can see why now. UNT lost to an improved SMU team to open the season, a solid Rice team in its Conference USA opener and is now 0-3 after falling to Iowa in a classic money game.

2. UNT’s defense is really struggling

Granted, UNT threw two pick-6 touchdowns. UNT’s defense still struggled all day in its third straight game giving up at least 30 points.

3. UNT just doesn’t have the talent to compete with Power Five teams

The Mean Green have always struggled against major conference opponents. Today was no different. That is why having two on the schedule this year, including Tennessee later in the year is such a huge problem for the Mean Green.

4. Jeffrey Wilson really is that good

Wilson rushed for 74 yards in his first game back from a hand injury against a team that was allowing 51 rushing yards a game.

5. UNT is really struggling at quarterback

Andrew McNulty had another tough day, throwing for 137 yards on 36 attempts. He had an interception returned for a TD. The fact that DaMarcus Smith was the third quarterback to see action will be a talking point. Josh Greer has struggled throughout his time at UNT and doesn’t look like the answer. Questions will surely arise as to why UNT didn’t take a look at Smith sooner.

UNT-Iowa running blog

UNT will take on Iowa this afternoon in a homecoming of sorts for head coach Dan McCarney and quarterback Andrew McNulty. Both are Iowa City natives. McCarney also played and coached for the Hawkeyes.

Anyone who has been paying attention over the last couple of days has probably heard a lot about by far the most interesting storyline heading into today’s game.

It is, however not the only one.

One of the other points of interest heading into today’a game is that the tough schedule the Mean Green face this year is proving to be as big a stumbling block as expected. UNT lost its season-opener to vastly improved SMU and then lost its Conference USA opener to Rice, which has all the looks of a bowl team.

UNT will get no break when it faces an Iowa team today that is 3-0 and could have one of its better teams in recent memory.

We look at the situation in today’s DRC, which also includes our weekly gameday page.

UNT is looking to avoid its first 0-3 start since 2011. The Mean Green are a baffling 1-37 in nonconference road games since 2001.

Turning the tide against Iowa will be a huge challenge. The Hawkeyes are 3-0 and have already beaten Iowa State and Pittsburgh. Iowa can move to 4-0 for the first time since the 2009 season.

Update 2:14 — One of the big keys to this game for UNT will be its running game. The Mean Green have leaned on it for years and will face one of the nation’s best rushing defenses today. Iowa is allowing just 51 yards a game on the ground.

Update 2:18 — Another key point to watch in today’s game is if UNT can keep its offense on the field. UNT is averaging just 21:10 in time of possession. That is the lowest total in major college football. UNT has gone to an uptempo offense. That problem with that kind of approach is that it can lead to short possessions.

Update 2:25 — Iowa’s players have just come out on the field. This is one of the worst crowds of the season for an Iowa game, according to the guys who cover the Hawkeyes here in the press box.

Kickoff — Iowa has won the toss and will receive to open the game.  UNT’s defense will have a chance to set the tone right away, if they can get off the field.

11:36 — That didn’t take long. Iowa went straight down the field on seven plays and scored on a Jordan Canzeri 16-yard run. Iowa is up 7-0, which puts a whole lot of pressure on UNT’s offense here.

10:22 — UNT went three-and-out and gave up 11 yards on third down when Andrew McNulty was sacked. A long punt return has Iowa sitting at UNT’s 40-yard line to begin its second drive. This is not starting well for UNT.

10:02 — This isn’t good. James Gray is down. That looked bad, but he is up and walking off under his own power. UNT is already down two of its top five DBs.

8:32 — UNT’s defense came up with a big stop on Iowa’s last drive. Iowa ran the ball on third-and-3 and couldn’t crack UNT’s front. UNT has the ball at its own 3-yard line.

6:32 — UNT went three-and-out. Iowa has the ball at the UNT 10 after a long punt return and a 16-yard pass.

5:56 — Iowa has extended its lead to 14-0 on a Jordan Canzeri run that covered 10 yards. Canzeri  has 59 yards and two touchdowns already.

4:29 — UNT moved the ball a bit on its last drive, but came up just short on a third-and-5 run by Antoinne Jimmerson. UNT elected to punt on fourth-and-1. UNT has Jeffrey Wilson open down the middle of the field earlier in the drive. Andrew McNulty put the ball on Wilson’s hands, but he couldn’t pull it in

:25 — UNT has come up with the kind of big play Dan McCarney has been looking for from the Mean Green’s defense all season. Cornerback Chad Davis pulled the ball away from Jordan Canzeri and Cortney Finney fell on it. UNT has the ball at the Iowa 37.

14:26 — UNT has the ball at the Iowa 27. It’s fourth-and-1 UNT is going to go for it.

13:17 — UNT converted on fourth down on an Antoinne Jimmerson run and then cashed in on that turnover with a Trevor Moore 38-yard field goal. It’s 14-3 Iowa.

12:20 — Iowa has answered UNT’s field goal with a 46-yard touchdown pass to tight end George Kittle. It’s 21-3 Iowa. UNT had a chance to pick up a first down on the ensuing drive, but Tee Goree dropped a pass after taking a huge hit.

9:16 — Iowa has tacked on another long touchdown pass, this time an 81-yard strike to Tevaun Smith, who bat Zac Whitfield deep. Iowa is up 28-6.

7:33 — UNT has gotten the break it needed here late in the first half. Iowa tried a reverse and lost the ball on a pitch. UNT fell on the ball and scored one play later on trick play with Carlos Harris throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chris Loving. Iowa is up 28-13.

1:56 — Iowa has come right back and answered UNT’s touchdown with one of its own. Jordan Canzeri dove into the end zone from 3 yards out. Iowa is up 35-13. This is the third straight game a team has scored 30 on UNT.

Halftime — UNT is down 35-13 at halftime here in Iowa City. The Mean Green came up with two turnovers in the first half and cashed in both. Carlos Harris hit tight end Chris Loving for a 6-yard touchdown on a trick play. UNT picked up a Trevor Moore field goal after recovering another fumble.

UNT has struggled to stop Iowa’s offense outside of those turnovers. C.J. Beathard has hit on all 15 of his pass attempts for 254 yards and two touchdowns. Iowa has 340 total yards. UNT has 149 yards.

UNT will get the ball to start the second half.

10:48 — UNT opened the second half with a nice drive, moving 61 yards in 15 plays. The only problem was the drive stalled out deep in Iowa’s end. Carlos Harris nearly hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass, but the Mean Green settled for a 31-yard field that has cut Iowa’s lead to 35-16.

9:23 — UNT has forced an Iowa punt. It was a great one. UNT will get the ball back at its 7-yard line.

4:56 — Iowa may have just put UNT away. The Hawkeyes blasted Andrew McNulty in the backfield and forced a fumble. Iowa has the ball deep in UNT’s end now.

:15 — Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell just picked off an Andrew McNulty pass and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown. Iowa is up 48-16 and is pulling away.

14:41 — Iowa has the ball back early in the fourth quarter up 48-16 after UNT had to punt the ball away.

7:02 — UNT is down 48-16. I will be back later.

Q&A with Rick Brown of the Des Moines Register

Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard hands the ball off in a game earlier this season. North Texas will take on Iowa on Saturday. (Associated Press)

Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard hands the ball off in a game earlier this season. North Texas will take on Iowa on Saturday. (Associated Press)

We are fortunate today to welcome Rick Brown of the Des Moines Register to the blog to discuss Saturday’s game between North Texas and Iowa. One can find Rick’s work on, the section of the paper’s website dedicated to Iowa athletics. One can also catch up with Brown’s latest news and notes on Iowa on his Twitter account @ByRickBrown.

1. Is this the best team Iowa has fielded in the last several years?

This squad has the potential to be the best Iowa team since 2009. That was the last Hawkeye team to start 3-0. That 2009 team went 11-2 and beat Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

There’s still a long way to go before that comparison can be made, however. This team is significantly better than 2014, but it has a ways to go to match 2013 (8-5 after a 21-14 loss to LSU in the Outback Bowl).

2. Talk Iowa quarterback about C.J. Beathard

He’s more than lived up to his end of the bargain. He was the people’s choice to play quarterback last season, but Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz stuck with Jake Rudock. But in practices leading up to the TaxSlayer Bowl, Beathard passed Rudock.

Rudock started against Tennessee, but Beathard got most of the snaps. Beathard was named the starter going forward the first week of January, and Rudock transferred to Michigan for his final season of eligibility. Beathard came in with a reputation for having a big arm, and that’s been true. Iowa’s vertical passing game has improved dramatically. Beathard has been really good at finding receivers open in the middle of the field, where the window of opportunity is small.

He’s also a good runner. He had carries for 44 and 57 yards against Iowa State. He’s also tough. He took a real beating against a blitzing Pittsburgh team last week, especially in the first half, but fought through it. The most surprising part of his game is his leadership. He absolutely commands the huddle, and the team has rallied behind him.

3. How big a figure is Dan McCarney in Iowa?

Mac is very popular in Iowa. Lasting 12 seasons at school like Iowa State, and beating Iowa five straight times, built up a lot of cache in Ames. And being part of one of the great turnarounds in college football history as a member of Hayden Fry’s coaching staff at Iowa polished his reputation as well.

People also remember Dan as an undersized guard who battled every play on Hawkeye teams that weren’t very good. Put it this way, Mac has a lot of friends in Iowa. And he’ll be shaking a lot of hands, and getting a lot of pats on the back, during his homecoming.

4. How big of a recruit was Andrew McNulty in Iowa?

He was one of those guys that Iowa and Iowa State both watched, and recruited, but didn’t pull the trigger on. Andrew played with Steve Ferentz, the youngest son of Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz.

Here’s what Kirk said about Andrew this week: “When Andrew was playing in high school, he was a really good player. Just an all-around, versatile, just the things we were talking about, a guy that had great judgment, was really poised, and very dangerous. He’s gotten his opportunity now at North Texas. He’s doing a great job. He really played very well last week. So we better be ready to go, because he’s a good football player and a real competitor. I saw that at a young age from him.”

5. How do you see this game unfolding?

Going by the average number of yards North Texas has allowed on the ground and through the air the first two games, I think Iowa will be able to move the ball with regularity. And I think it will be difficult for the Mean Green to move the ball against Iowa’s defense. I see Iowa winning this game, 38-10.

Mike Thomas won’t play for UNT this year



UNT men’s basketball coach Tony Benford confirmed early Thursday night that JUCO transfer Mike Thomas will not play for the Mean Green this season.

A UNT spokesman confirmed earlier in the day that Thomas will join the Mean Green at the semester break. That is still the case, but he will not play for the Mean Green next season after failing to meet NCAA qualifying standards.

Thomas landed at Kilgore College after failing to qualify academically out of high school. The 6-11 center needed to meet certain academic requirements to play for UNT this season and fell short.

UNT is hoping Thomas will join the team for the 2016-17 season.

One of UNT’s top offseason priorities was to restock its front court. The Mean Green signed 7-foot center Rickey Brice, Notre Dame transfer Eric Katenda and Khalil Fuller in addition to Thomas.

The Mean Green will now turn to that trio and returning forward Jeremy Combs to bolster its front court lineup.

“We are solid inside with our post guys,” Benford said. “We have Jeremy coming back as one of the best post players in Conference USA and Eric is a good player. Brice and Fuller are also playing well.

“We could be better there than we have been in the last two years.”

Thomas was a high-profile recruit coming out of Ville Platte in Louisiana and was recruited by several major conference programs, including LSU, Auburn and Kansas State.

Thomas landed at Kilgore after failing to qualify and averaged 6.7 points and 5.1 rebounds a game last season.

UNT had hoped that Thomas would capitalize on his considerable potential next season, but will now have to wait another year.

“Sometimes when you take junior college players that is a possibility,” Benford said of them not qualifying.

UNT is hoping that the players it did add to its interior rotation will help the Mean Green improve after a 14-17 finish last season.

Prediction: UNT won’t be able to keep pace with red hot Iowa

North Texas senior offensive lineman Michael Banogu carries the Mean Green Family Flag onto the field before UNT's loss to Rice. The Mean Green will face Iowa on Saturday. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

North Texas senior offensive lineman Michael Banogu carries the Mean Green Family flag onto the field before UNT’s loss to Rice. The Mean Green will face Iowa on Saturday. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

UNT at Iowa

When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday

Records: UNT 0-2, Iowa 3-0

Last meeting: First meeting

TV/radio: ESPNU, KNTU-FM 88.1, KHYI-FM 95.3

What’s on the line?

UNT has suffered through a tough first two weeks of the season, falling at bitter rival SMU to open the season before losing its home opener to Rice, another in-state rival. The Mean Green could really use a win and some momentum, but are facing long odds at Iowa. UNT is 1-37 on the road in nonconference games since 2001.

Iowa is in a much different position heading into the weekend. The Hawkeyes are 3-0, received votes in this week’s Associated Pres Top 25 poll and have a chance to set up a huge showdown with Wisconsin next week in its Big Ten opener. Wisconsin is ranked No. 22 this week.

When UNT has the ball?

UNT showed some signs of life last week in a 38-24 loss to Rice. Quarterback Andrew McNulty threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns against the Owls in his finest performance at UNT. The Mean Green added 175 rushing yards behind Antoinne Jimmerson, who finished with 94 yards.

Three turnovers short circuited UNT’s offense and dropped the Mean Green to minus- 4 on the season in turnover margin.

Improving it performance against Iowa won’t be easy for UNT. The Hawkeyes rank fifth nationally with an average of 51 rushing yards allowed a game and are allowing just 18.3 points a game.

When Iowa has the ball?

Iowa has hit its stride offensively behind quarterback C.J. Beathard, who is accounting for 275.3 total yards a game. The Hawkeyes spread the ball around and have three running backs and three receivers who are accounting for more than 40 yards rushing or receiving a game.

UNT has struggled defensively through its first two games, giving up more than 30 points in consecutive losses. Safety Kishawn finished with 16 tackles against Rice and could be a vital part of the Mean Green’s defense against Iowa. UNT has already lost cornerback Kenny Buyers and backup safety Cedric Fernandes for the season due to injury.


This game has all the makings of a miserable day for UNT. The Mean Green have lost seven straight away from Apogee Stadium. Facing an Iowa team that is lingering just outside of the Associated Press Top 25 doesn’t seem like the best of circumstances to end that streak.

Score: Iowa 45, UNT 17