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Tuesday, October 20, 1998
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 41






Sports Opinion

Sports Shorts
 



About the Cougar
 

UNT looks to Houston game for breakthrough win

NORTH TEXAS PREVIEW

By Anna Sivadasan
Daily cougar staff
 


Mean Greem defensive end Scott Blank (right) ranked in the top 10 in the nation in quarterback sacks last season.

Photo courtesy of University of North Texas
 

New coach. New attitude. New year. Same team. Well, at least that was the case in the first four games for the University of North Texas. In the last three years, UNT has produced a  record of 11-22, including a 4-7 mark last season. This season, the struggles appeared to continue with four consecutive losses to open the season. 

 On the surface, it looks like first-year coach Darrell Dickey's program may be in for another long season. However, looking past the surface, there may be hope for the Mean Green. Before the year started, Dickey, like many coaches, was optimistic about his team. 

 "Our goal every Saturday is to be in position in the fourth quarter to win as many games as possible and to be in contention for the Big West title," Dickey said.

 On that count, the Mean Green may be one for two when the season ends. UNT's first four losses were to three Big 12 schools and a Pac-10 team, a tough early season schedule for any team. But the Mean Green bounced back to win its first two Big West conference games against Boise State two weeks ago and Nevada Saturday. 

 With the contest tied at 14 apiece at halftime, UNT scored 13 points in the third quarter to pull out its second conference victory, matching its league win total from all of last year. The drenched field and gusting winds at Fouts Field played havoc for both teams' passing offenses. 

 UNT went exclusively to its running game and had great success. Senior running backs Ja'Quay Wilburn, Hut Allred and Tubby Coleman led a Mean Green ground game that gained a season-high 286 yards on 53 carries as UNT made the plays down the stretch to win the game 27-21.

 Dickey's hopes for contending for the conference title are definitely not out of the question. But UNT still has room for improvement in virtually every area. The fact that UNT returns eight offensive starters from last year was expected to be a positive aspect of the team. But its offensive problems throughout the first half of the year have been more on the negative side. Before the Nevada game, the numbers were less than impressive: UNT was averaging 10.8 points per game, 90 yards rushing and 139 yards passing in 24 quarters. In the first three quarters, when games are usually won or lost, UNT had been outscored 111-28. They did, however, show signs of life by outscoring Nevada 27-14 in the first three quarters Saturday. 

 UNT's leading rusher is senior Tubby Coleman, who is only averaging 50 yards per contest on the ground. The Mean Green's passing attack has also been below par. Sophomore quarterback Jason Attaway is completing less than 50 percent of his passes and has thrown for an average of less than 100 yards per game. When teams put up those kinds of offensive numbers, there usually isnit a bright spot. 

 The Mean Green's receiving duo of junior Broderick McGrew (17 catches, 208 yards) and senior Jay Young (23 catches and 289 yards) qualify as one of the very few bright spots. They have been the two playmakers on a team that is lacking in that area. 

 It looks like it can't get any worse defensively for UNT, but unfortunately, it does. The Mean Green has allowed almost 30 points and has allowed 450-plus total yards per game.The strength of the defensive unit lies up front on the defensive line. 

 UNT boasts one of the best pass rushers in college football. Senior defensive end Scott Blank finished eighth in the country last season in quarterback sacks with 13. He also totaled 60 tackles. 

 UNT's special teams is without question the best unit on the team. Punter John Baker and placekicker Garrett Courtney were both preseason All-Big West selections. 

 So despite its offensive and defensive struggles, the Mean Green sits atop the conference standings with a 2-0 record. If that is still the case at the end of the season, the first four games will be be a distant memory in Denton.
 

Reach Sivadsan at
coogsports@hotmail.com.
 
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