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DAJON-IMO: The Zone Read Era Starts at North Texas

Dan McCarney finally took a risk and gave Dajon Williams, arguably the most talented quarterback on North Texas's roster, the starting spot. What could go wrong?

Josh Greer wasn't ready for prime time. Now it's Dajon Williams's turn.
Josh Greer wasn't ready for prime time. Now it's Dajon Williams's turn.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dan McCarney is your classic Big 10 guy.

He preaches smashmouth football, clock control, and teams that are led by defense. His first year at North Texas featured an offense led by 1000-yard rusher Lance Dunbar (now a Dallas Cowboy). His second year at North Texas featured a stable of young running backs, and a stout defense. Brandin Byrd anchored is third year with another 1,000 yard performance.

The defense is and was always anchored by a middle linebacker- in 2011, 2012, and 2013 it was Zach Orr (now a member of the Baltimore Ravens) who was the heart and soul of the defense. In 2014, it is Derek Akune.

At Iowa State he did much of the same- run, run, run, control the clock, and play good defense. He had one or two 1,000 yard rushers during his tenure, but his defenses had the unfortunate task of going up against Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Missouri, rather than UAB, Rice, UTSA, and Marshall (no knock on any of those programs).

Quarterbacks in McCarney's system were never game-changers. Sage Rosenfels, Brett Meyer (who put up the gaudiest stats of his QB's), and Derek Thompson were game managers, who could be trusted to throw for 200 yards and one to two touchdowns a game.

But they could never do this:

While Seneca Wallace certainly did not put up amazing passing stats in college (he passed for 5,000 yards with 26 touchdowns and 27 interceptions, and Iowa State never won more than 7 games during his 2 years there) he added a dimension to the ISU offense that no other quarterback did. Wallace's feet allowed an element of electricity that aided the Cyclones to a 6-1 start, including a one-point loss to Florida State, who began the year as a national title favorite.

Which brings us to North Texas and Dajon Williams. After three games, passing statistics for UNT quarterbacks look like this:


Zero passing touchdowns. Three yards per attempt. And 298 total yards, or the amount of yards that Bryce Petty puts up in one quarter. Opposing defenses know the North Texas playcalling like the back of their hands: toss right, zone left, run up the middle, putting 8, 9 and even 10 men in the box, as they are confident that a UNT quarterback has a better chance of throwing the ball in the stands than to an actual receiver.

Williams struggled with injuries last season and during spring football of this season, but electrified the Mean Green faithful with a 19-yard run off of a zone read in garbage time against SMU. He showed composure in the pocket (as evidenced by his completion percentage) and if he does what he's supposed to do, could open up the run game even more for Reggie Pegram, whose been the star of the Mean Green offense this year.

McCarney wasn't so high on Williams this summer, being that he struggled with conditioning. He also became a new father during the Texas game, something that may have caused Williams to receive zero playing time during the blowout.

But the fact of the matter is, the Dajon-imo Era has begun at North Texas. If Williams performs as the Mean Green faithful think he will, be prepared for 200 passing yards, 150 rushing yards, and a "Dajon for Heisman 2015" campaign to start after the game.

Or, just look for a whole new dimension to the Mean Green offense.