An Early Look at North Texas – From the Bird’s Nest
Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns next stop is Denton, Texas this Tuesday night as they face the Mean Green of North Texas. Kickoff for the nationally televised game (ESPN2) is scheduled for 8pm CDT.
The Cajuns (4-1) have won five in a row and six of the last seven against the Green. The one North Texas win in the series during that time was a 16-7 defeat of Louisiana at Cajun Field. The Cajuns have not lost in Denton since the 2003 season.
This is the last scheduled meeting between the two schools. North Texas will depart the Sun Belt on June 30, 2013 and will join Conference USA.
Dan McCarney is the head coach. He was the head coach at Iowa State when Seneca Wallace was their QB. He is in his second season as the head coach with a 7-11 record, including 2-4 this year.
The Cajuns won last year’s battle 30-10. Louisiana led only 13-10 entering the fourth quarter, but scored 17 unanswered points for the win, delighting the homecoming crowd of 32,823, a record for a Sun Belt conference game.
Derek Thompson (6-2, 226, Jr) is in his third season as the starting quarterback for the Mean Green. He’s averaging 207 yards per game with six touchdowns and five interceptions. His two favorite targets are former walk-on Ivan Delgado (27-369-0) and Brelan Chancellor (23-433-5). They are the only two players who have caught more than ten passes this season.
Chancellor (5-9, 183, Jr.) is used in a very similar fashion to the way the Cajuns used Jason Chery. He returns kicks and punts, catches the football and has gained over 100 rushing. The Cajuns will need to know where he is at all times.
Lance Dunbar is gone and the Mean Green this year is running back by committee. Brandin Byrd, Antoine Jimmerson and Jeremy Brown have combined for 910 rushing in the first six games.
McCarney has made his impact on defense. The Mean Green were just terrible on that side of the football under Todd Dodge. But, McCarney has made them better in a hurry. They still have a ways to go on that side, but they’ve made great strides.
Middle linebacker Zach Orr is all-conference material. Aaron Bellazin and K. C. Obi have combined for 6.5 sacks.
Like the Cajuns, North Texas prides itself in turnover margin. Their #4 is second to the Cajuns in the Sun Belt. North Texas was -2 in that department last week vs. Houston, the first time they lost the turnover battle since the season opener against LSU (-1).
This will be the third home game of the season for the Mean Green and they’ve been pretty stingy at their house. They allowed only seven to Texas Southern in a 34-7 win and just 14 to Troy in a 14-7 loss. North Texas is playing its second season in the new Apogee Stadium (30,850).
The Cajuns are 7-0 against North Texas when scoring 30 or more points. Under Dan McCarney, the Mean Green are 6-2 when scoring more than 21 points, but they are 1-9 when held to 21 or less.
Just some numbers to think about while you’re getting ready for Tuesday night.
Information from ragincajuns.com and meangreensports.com contributed to this story.