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Coach Andy Mac

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  1. North Texas’ offense has shown a bit more change since last season than expected. North Carolina transfer Jace Ruder stepped in and won the starting quarterback job over incumbent Austin Aune, while injuries at the running back position caused DeAndre Torrey to step into the feature back role after lining up at slot receiver to start fall camp. Unfortunately for the Mean Green, Torrey is questionable for this Saturday. Jace Ruder may need to win this game with his arm given the injury streak at the running back position. Look for Roderic Burns and Deonte Simpson to be targeted often throughout the evening. read more: https://www.underdogdynasty.com/conference-usa/2021/9/17/22678700/uab-blazers-unt-mean-green-north-texas-preview-watch-live-stats-betting-line-spread-listen-online
  2. Another possibility: The Mountain West binds together and remains intact, banking that Alabama-Birmingham, Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State or whoever the AAC might add won’t give it enough juice to maintain its foothold as the best conference outside the Power 5. Except you’re still getting only $3 million a year from your conference in television payouts while some power conferences are north of $50 million, further widening the gap between the haves and have-nots. And so another back-of-the-napkin scheme emerges, perhaps not immediately but somewhere over the horizon: A national, breakaway conference with the best of the rest. SDSU, Boise State, Colorado State, Air Force and UNLV (because of its football facilities, not its history) from the Mountain West. SMU, Memphis, South Florida and Navy from the AAC. North Texas, which is pouring money into facilities, from Conference USA. Maybe Army, currently an independent in football, so you have all three service academies. The geography works in football because teams all charter to games, and there’s little difference in time or expense to fly for another hour or so to Dallas instead of Albuquerque. In basketball and Olympic sports, you could focus schedules within your region and add one or two trips east or west — not ideal but not unreasonable. It wouldn’t draw $40 million per school from the TV networks. But it might get you $10 million, which is better than $3 million. It also raises your national profile and better positions you if or when the tectonic plates of collegiate athletics shift again. read more: https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/aztecs/story/2021-09-10/san-diego-state-aztecs-conference-realignment-big-12-conference-usa
  3. On what is different about UNT this year… "Offensively they are high tempo and they run a lot of tempo plays. Their biggest improvement already is their defense. They've had some times that they were good on defense and probably weren't quite as good as maybe they wanted to be the last few years. I see them coming back. You know they made a change at their defensive coordinator spot, I know him. They're going to be better there and they're always tough." On preparing for UNT high tempo offense… "I think one of the things we do and we have been doing for years is we put two huddles going at us just as fast as we can go. I think that is the only way you can simulate them is just practice. You got those two huddles coming at you. Your guys are just waiting for it. It is tough, and I don't care how much you do it. They move fast, and they are going to spread you horizontally. If you look at their splits with their receivers, they are at the bottom of the numbers. So, that really opens up running lanes and you have a quarterback who can make those throws. They have a transfer from North Carolina with a big arm. He can run so it is going to be a big challenge. Last year statistically, they were one of the top teams in the country in the numbers categories." read more: https://uabsports.com/news/2021/9/13/uab-football-week-3-transcript-at-north-texas.aspx
  4. DENTON, Texas — After opening the season 1-1, North Texas Football returns home at 6:30 p.m. CT Saturday to take on UAB in the Conference USA opener for both teams. The game will be broadcast on Stadium. The defense is making strides With conference football less than a week away, head coach Seth Littrell said he's encouraged by the defense's progression under new defensive coordinator Phil Bennett. "It's game two in this defensive system, and there's still a lot of room for improvements across the board," Littrell said. "We look forward to continuing to build off the positives and keep getting better on our negatives." Safety Makyle Sanders said the fundamentals got past the defense on Saturday. "I think one big thing we need to work on defensively is tackling," Sanders said. "We missed a couple of tackles, so I think that's one of the biggest things, and knowing what we're supposed to do." With negatives though come positives. Through two games, the Mean Green have only one less forced turnover than the entirety of last season. Sanders said it comes down to "trusting the technique, trusting the scheme, and being in the right place at the right time." Linebacker KD Davis also emphasized trusting what the players are taught throughout the week leading up to gameday. "It's trusting the technique and doing what you're coached to do. That's all you can do. Just give great effort," Davis said. "Coach has put us in position all week, so when it's game time you've got to make the play when it comes your way." North Texas didn't allow the Mustangs to score until the 3:50 mark of the second quarter. Davis said following through into the entire game is critical to the team's success this week. "The way we played in the first half of the SMU game, we know that we can do it," Davis said. "Now we just have to do it for four quarters until the game is over. We know that we have to finish." Sanders put it more simply. "We have to come with our 'A' game," Sanders said. "We have to come with our big boy pads." Thriving through the air The offense was also not without its mistakes and triumphs. Sophomore wide receiver Roderic Burns boasts the most catches and third most receiving yards in the conference through two games, and Littrell said he's been encouraged by the progression of the passing game. "I thought our vertical passing game was better, which is something we definitely needed to get going," Littrell said. "It's something we stressed this past week, and it got better. We still have a lot of room for improvements, but Rod's been spectacular the first two games. He's made a lot of plays." It's not just Burns that makes this group effective. Sophomore Jyaire Shorter has impressed over the past six weeks. "[Shorter's] a big guy that plays physically, and he can run," Littrell said. "He's another guy that has a lot of game experience, and he's made a lot of plays, and so I think with that brings confidence … The more comfortable he gets throughout the season the better he'll get." Quarterback Jace Ruder also heaped some praise. "Jyaire brings everything. He loves the game of football … He's locked in 100% of the time. He brings speed, agility, he can jump, he's strong — he's one of the strongest guys on the team — so Jyaire's got it all, and he's going to come out every day and work his butt off." Ruder also said sophomore Tommy Bush is an important addition to the wide receiver room thanks to his experience in Power Five football. "Tommy's a fun dude. Coming in from Georgia, he knows what it takes," Ruder said. "The more people you're around, the more you learn different perspectives from different coaches, different players and different techniques, and it kind of allows you to create your toolbox." The transfer quarterback said he loves that he can trust any of them to grab a deep ball out of the air. "I like to say, when I throw the ball up, that's their ball. That's my wideout's ball," Ruder said. "They do a great job of going up and getting it and making a play on it. Even if it's by rule a 50/50 ball, I like to consider it more of an 80/20 or a 90/10 with the guys we've got." Home sweet home After a loss on the road, it's always good to come back home and feel the love from the fanbase. Littrell and Ruder each said the team is excited to be back under the lights of Apogee. "Your home crowd brings a lot of energy," Littrell said. "We love playing here in front of our fans, in front of our students and alumni. They do a great job, and we can feed off that energy." "With experience you're going to be more comfortable," Ruder said. "In my first start, I was really excited. Thankfully, it was at home, and I got to experience Apogee at its finest, and I'm excited to get back here against UAB and see all of our fans there." Heading into conference play also gives the team a fresh start. Sanders said a new 0-0 record allows the Mean Green to focus on what their plan is going forward. "We need to see what we are defensively and offensively, just as a whole team," Sanders said. "Having them as our first game is really big … I think we can be a big factor in the conference." UAB is coming off conference championships in two of the past three seasons, and Littrell said they are one of the best teams in an incredible conference. "I've always said there are a lot of great teams and coaches and a lot of great players in this league," Littrell said. "Coach Clark does an unbelievable job at UAB. They're one of the top teams in our league." Davis echoed Littrell's high regard for the Blazers, but he also said the anticipation for this game adds to the clean slate feeling. "I'm glad UAB is the first conference game because they've won it two of the past three years," Davis said. "Being able to see where we're going to be, being able to play them and get after them is going to be a great feeling."
  5. UAB (1-1) at North Texas (1-1) When: 6:30 p.m., Sat. Where: Apogee Stadium, Denton, Texas TV: Stadium Series: UAB leads 4-1. Spread: UAB by 14.5. SUPER STAT OF THE WEEK: It was mostly bad news and worse for the Blazers against Georgia, but UAB did rush for 127 yards against the Bulldogs. It’s the most a Group of 5 offense has gained on the ground against UAB since MTSU in 2018. Joe says: The Blazers open their new downtown stadium on Oct. 2, but making it there with a winning record will be a miracle. This is UAB’s third road game in three weeks, so matching UNT’s intensity will be a challenge. The loss to Georgia was ugly, but UAB is the team everyone wants to beat in CUSA. I’m trusting this senior-laden team has the ability to refocus quickly, but I also thought the defense would put up a fight against Georgia. Mystery Blazers don’t feel like a two touchdown road favorite, and turnovers hurt UNT last week against SMU. Joe’s pick: UAB 24, North Texas 21 Pro says: UAB is going to have to develop a more prolific passing game if they want to juice up the offense and have a more balanced attack. They looked stuck in the mud last week against Georgia. North Texas decided they can’t keep winning shootouts so they made the offseason hire of respected defensive coordinator Phil Bennett. Bennett is smart enough to realize Tyler Johnston III isn’t going to hurt his pass defense and will play at least seven or eight defenders in the box almost every first and second down. This spread is way too high with a punchless Blazers offense. Pro’s pick: UAB 31, North Texas 27 Hero says: The Blazers were licking their wounds after a beat down by Georgia last week, but Coach Clark will need to get his team refocused for a conference game at North Texas this week. The Blazers may struggle to regain their footing against North Texas, but they should be able to win the line of scrimmage and earn a tough conference road win. Hero’s pick: UAB 28, North Texas 20 LINK: https://www.al.com/alabamafootball/2021/09/florida-quarterbacks-pose-problem-for-alabama.html
  6. Nothing. Avoid this at all costs. Unfortunately, the Mountain West has become known for being reactive and waiting to see what everyone else does before making a move. They can not afford to do so this time around. The bottom line is, it is well past time for the Mountain West to become the aggressor. It is not a stretch to imagine Thompson and the conference are working behind the scenes. But until they get something done, they do not deserve the benefit of the doubt. Maintaining the status quo will not help the conference remain relevant. Losing teams will only make matters worse. The only option is to add. Preferably, they should strengthen their own conference by weakening their rival conference, the American Athletic. Also, seek to fortify itself as a basketball conference works by adding Gonzaga and St. Mary. Those teams can’t be happy BYU is pulling out of their conference, so make them an attractive offer to play against the likes of Utah State, SDSU, Colorado State, and others in what could easily become one of the six strongest MBB conferences in the nation. read more: https://www.mwcconnection.com/platform/amp/2021/9/15/22670913/peak-perspective-mountain-west-college-football-conference-realignment-battle-fight-expansion
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