Underdog Dynasty UNT writer Adam Rosenfield and I exchanged emails about Saturday's game between Southern Miss and North Texas in Denton, TX.
You can view the questions he asked me about USM by clicking this link.
PM: How do the Mean Green faithful feel about Dan McCarney? Obviously, a very good 2013 campaign, but has underachieved so far in 2014.
AR: I think after 2013, many thought McCarney was a god. Then again, this was a fanbase who hadn't sniffed a winning season in 10 years. While expectations were high on paper, I think many knew it would be a rebuilding year, though I think most didn't expect it to be this bad, Most people have a positive view on him- he does a lot to promote the program and has turned the program around. I think the extension given to him was a little premature- need to see sustained success and clearly 2014 won't be the same as 2013. I think that winning season bought him some time, but we haven't played a close game all year... and that's a problem.
PM: Who are some players that stand out for UNT? Any possible NFL Draft prospects?
AR: Obviously the feature player is Dajon Williams, though Andrew McNulty may be the starter this week. Many touted Dajon as the next big thing and while he's had his moments, he's still a true freshman. Carlos Harris is a major playmaker for the Mean Green. Though he's not the game changer Brelan Chancellor was last year, he's put up some stout numbers over the past few games that Williams has started. Cyril Lemon on the O-line was touted as someone who could be drafted, though the O-line hasn't shown much promise this year. Mason Y'Barbo is another O-line leader as well.
On defense, Derek Akune leads the Mean Green, though he's not a prospect like Zach Orr was last year. Chad Polk is a guy I like on the D Line. Last year, the defense was the heart and soul of the Mean Green. This year, not so much.
PM: What does the long-term future look like for UNT football? With a nice new stadium and close proximity to the DFW metro area, I'd have to think it's pretty good.
AR: Everyone touted the stadium but the fact of the matter is UNT hasn't come close to selling it out yet. The DFW thing is nice too, but it only works when you successfully recruit the players- it's one of the most competitive, if not the most competitive, areas for football, and while that 9-4 campaign turned some heads, no one in Texas notices you until you start knocking off the big boys a la TCU. I'm a bit nervous after six games as to the long term future of UNT football- especially seeing how quickly guys like Bill Clark at UAB have turned around their programs in a short period of time. McCarney harped on the fact that when he came in he didn't have the players to compete, but many of the leaders of his team last year were Todd Dodge recruits. This year is a down year, but if we struggle again in 2015, Mean Green faithful will lose a lot of confidence in McCarney. So as for your question, the future is... uncertain.
PM: The past two results against Indiana and UAB weren't great for the Mean Green. What went wrong for UNT in those matchups
AR: Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers. Oh and did I mention our defense can't stop anyone? Going down 21-0 super early in both games doesn't help the confidence of a freshman quarterback either.
PM: UNT isn't far removed from the Todd Dodge era, where the Mean Green lost 37 of 43 games. I know little about the situation overall but it sounds similar to the Ellis Johnson disaster at Southern Miss. With Southern Miss going through a similar rebuilding process to what UNT had to go through, what similarities (if any) do you think are there between UNT's rebuilding process (2011, 2012) and what Todd Monken is currently doing at USM
AR: Not a whole lot. Southern Miss had 18 straight winning seasons before Johnson, several Top 25 rankings, and several C USA championships. UNT, while it had four bowl games in the early 2000s to its credit, wasn't much of a world beater (REMEMBER THAT TIME WE BEAT BAYLOR). Things were going down the tubes before Dodge was hired, and he didn't seem to have the college coaching competence to halt that slide. I'm not too familiar on Johnson, but I'm shocked that a well respected coach in the SEC couldn't coach one win out of an 12 win team the year before. Johnson seemed to land on his feet, with a nice cushy DC gig at Auburn
I think both McCarney and Monken have done well to erase the bad taste in a lot of their respective fan bases' mouths. I liked Monken's gesture to buy suits for his seniors last year. I'd like McCarney to tone down his coach speak. I think both coaches are looking to "prove something" with these stops- McCarney to erase the bad ending at Iowa State, and Monken, who, if he is successful at USM, might find a bigger program calling (Larry Fedora anyone?)
Prediction: I think UNT avoids a 3 game losing streak and wins 35-20 - much closer than last year's game.