UNLV vs. North Texas: Getting To Know The Mean Green
Mean Green is going to be a good challenge for the Rebels
Can UNLV win again?
UNLV is looking to get to 2-1 for the first time in a long time as they host North Texas which is a rematch of a near decade old bowl rematch. The Rebels are trying to break through and not have another one-score loss which has been an issue dating back to last year.
To get to know North Texas more we chatted with Brett Vito of the Denton Record-Chronicle
1. What has been the biggest change from preseason assumptions to now for North Texas?
It wasn’t a big surprise to me, but a lot of UNT supporters assumed that the Mean Green would pick up where they left off defensively last season.
UNT made a tremendous jump in its first year under Phil Bennett, a veteran coordinator who joined Seth Littrell’s staff ahead of the 2021 campaign. The Mean Green posted the biggest improvement of any FBS program last season by dropping the number of yards they allowed per game by 144.3 last fall. UNT also cut the number of points it allowed per game from 42.8 to 27.5.
The hope was that UNT would make a similar jump this year. The Mean Green played really well in a 31-13 win over UTEP to open the season but have struggled since. UNT was torched in a 48-10 loss to SMU and gave up 27 points last week to FCS Texas Southern.
UNT just doesn’t look as good as it did last year after losing several key players to graduation and transfer. The hope was that the Mean Green would be able to plug those holes. Some of the players who moved into the lineup have contributed, including linebacker Mazin Richards, who has 1.5 sacks.
Overall, they just aren’t as good as the players UNT lost.
2. Who are the key players for this North Texas team?
UNT’s best player is linebacker KD Davis, who has 25 tackles, three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble so far. He’s a fifth-year senior who was a first-team All-Conference USA selection last year.
Davis was in the transfer portal for a few days over the summer and visited Texas A&M and Ole Miss before deciding to return to UNT. He’s that good of a player.
When it comes to UNT’s most important player, that has to be quarterback Austin Aune. The former minor league baseball player is the key to UNT’s offense.
The Mean Green have a terrific running game. When Aune is on hitting on the deep ball, UNT is tough to beat. He has 640 yards and a 7-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio this season.
3. Are there any significant injuries heading this week?
UNT coach Seth Littrell doesn’t talk about injuries. It’s a bit of a mystery until game time who is going to play.
The one we do know about that will be big this week is John Davis Jr. The cornerback was injured in UNT’s season-opening win over UTEP and hasn’t played since. He’s not listed on the depth chart this week.
Ridge Texada, a transfer from McNeese State, has filled in for Davis and struggled at times.
4. What is an area where UNLV could have some success against North Texas?
UNLV has thrown the ball well this year and will certainly look to exploit UNT in the passing game.
The Mean Green are allowing 319.3 passing yards per game. UNT’s secondary isn’t the same without Davis and the Mean Green have just four sacks on the year.
UNT had two productive pass rushers in Grayson and Gabriel Murphy leave the program and land at UCLA in the offseason. The Mean Green haven’t been able to generate an effective pass rush without them at times this season.
5. How do you see this game playing out?
This looks like a game between evenly matched teams.
UNT should be able to move the ball on UNLV behind running backs Ayo Adeyi and Oscar Adaway III. The Mean Green are averaging 237.7 rushing yards per game and have good offensive line that is the team’s best overall unit.
UNLV quarterback Doug Brumfield and his receivers look like a tough matchup for UNT’s defense.
This game will likely be a close one late in the fourth quarter. I picked UNT to eke out a win in my weekly prediction column, but I could see the game going either way.