North Texas (2-2) takes on the Indiana Hoosiers (2-2) out of the Big 10 this Saturday in Bloomington. Indiana is a two touchdown favorite, but North Texas did beat Indiana back in 2011 in Denton. Here are the keys to the game for a North Texas victory.
The redshirt freshman phenom helped the team put up 77 points in his first career start vs Nicholls St. Any North Texas fan knows they have no shot of going up to Bloomington and pulling an upset without consistent QB play and that Is what Dajon provides. Not only is he more patient in the pocket and delivers a better ball then both Josh Greer and Andrew McNulty, but his speed and mobility opens up a dynamic run option system and makes it so the defense can’t stack the box. This is critical for an upset.
The run game will be a huge factor in the success of North Texas. McCarney’s philosophy is similar to many Big 10 teams. Have a physical run game, dominate the trenches and play solid D. Reggie Pegram (a former Purdue transfer) is a physical, North-South back who can really provide that solid wearing down presence that the Mean Green loves.
Antoine Jimmerson is a smaller, change of pace back, though he has fumbling issues and seems to excel more in open space (screens, run options) than as a between the tackle back. The wildcard is Eric Evans, a redshirt freshman running back who seems to be a home run hitter, twice breaking off runs of 50+ and punching in 3 TD’s. The home run play may be what is needed to grab some momentum.
North Texas went through a transformation on the D-line between 2013 and 2014. Out were 4 seniors and in was a group of smaller, younger guys but you wouldn’t seem to notice. This line, under Coach Kevin Patrick, piled up 10 sacks vs Nicholls St, and 19 through 4 games. The LB’s are still fast and physical and the secondary is a mature group that can tackle in open space very well. If the D-Line can get pressure on the QB, look for NT to stack the box and contain the run.
North Texas is averaging almost 9 penalties a game, which is uncharacteristic for a McCarney-coached team, but not totally shocking considering how young the team is. If North Texas wants to win this game, they can’t spend time going backwards and losing momentum. This should be a close game and penalties can be a big difference maker. It will be interesting to see how this plays out but if the flags are limited, North Texas should have a good shot.