Cal Football

A (Slightly) Too Early Opponent Preview: North Texas Mean Green

July 17, 2019
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Akin to the tilt with UC Davis, Cal didn’t pick an easy path through its non-conference schedule in 2019. While the North Texas Mean Green aren’t world-beaters, they’re certainly no slouches and are favored to win the Conference USA this season. It’s been a fast turnaround for the team from Denton — about an hour north of Dallas. In 2015, the Mean Green had only one win and the early 2010’s were largely unsuccessful. 

Enter Seth Littrell. The former Oklahoma running back worked his way through the ranks of collegiate football coaching with stops at Texas Tech, Arizona, Indiana, and North Carolina before landing his first head coaching gig. And in his first three seasons leading the Mean Green, he’s taken the team to one Conference USA championship game, barely missed on another, and has his sights set squarely on this year’s game. Littrell’s led North Texas to a 23-17 record in his three seasons (9-5 and 9-4 the past two seasons, respectively) and after last season, his name was floated around for a few Power Five conference openings. 

It’s not fair to put an entire offense on one player, but in the Mean Green’s case, it’s just tough not to. Senior quarterback Mason Fine is a gunslinger and has been the Conference USA offensive player of the year back-to-back years in 2017 and 2018. Last season, Fine’s pass rating was 149.91 (Chase Garbers had a 119.89 rating), completing about 65% of his passes for 3,793 yards, 27 TDs, and only five picks.

North Texas is also loaded with pass catchers, returning three of its four of  top receivers from last season, including top receiver Rico Bussey, who went for more than 1,000 yards and 12 TDs in 12 games. The Mean Green also return the top two rushers from last season. Highlighting the run game is junior DeAndre Torrey, who ran for 1,013 yards in 175 attempts last year.

The only question mark the Mean Green will have on the offensive side of the ball is with play-calling as USC plucked offensive coordinator Graham Harrell during the off-season.

While the offense is definitely the focal point, the defense made strides last season. After giving up more than 6,000 yards and an average of 431 per game in 2017, the Mean Green gave up less than 5,000 yards — or about 375 yards per game — last season. However, they will be losing their top two tacklers in E.J. Ejiya and Brandon Garner. They also lose a couple of key defensive backs in Nate Brooks and Kemon Hall. Where Cal will be relying on its defense to keep the Bears in games, North Texas will rely heavily on its offense with hopes of the defense getting some key and timely stops.

Projection: Cal Bears 34, North Texas Mean Green 24

This game could have a lot of fans nervous. Akin to the games with UC Davis and UW, the Bears’ highly-touted pass defense will be tested early. The first three games feature two four-year slingers and one former statuesque blue-chipper. While this game stays closer that Cal fans will like, the Bears eventually pull away, going 2-1 heading into a tough out at The Vaught in Oxford against Mississippi.

Discussion from...

A (Slightly) Too Early Opponent Preview: North Texas Mean Green

2,830 Views | 10 Replies | Last: 3 mo ago by Jtm0097
72CalBear
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I agree, like UC Davis, this will not be easy, especially coming off (unfortunately) a big loss to nationally ranked UW. Fortunately it's at Memorial. This will be our 3rd game with a real QB passing threat, and they also have two excellent running backs. Like with UCD, if our offense has anything better than last year, we should win, but it could be closer than many would like. Whatever happened to the Blue Hose??
calumnus
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UC Davis and North Texas are high risk low reward opponents. Shoot add Ole Miss to the list. If we beat all three we will get very little credit for the accomplishment.
upsetof86
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calumnus said:

UC Davis and North Texas are high risk low reward opponents. Shoot add Ole Miss to the list. If we beat all three we will get very little credit for the accomplishment.


I agree I don't like any of the 3 except the experience to go to Oxford.

Davis kind of trap game for us before UW
North Texas same before Ole Miss

Not losses but expect some sloppiness. We aren't the 2017 team that let Weber St hang around 3 quarters but dang why these guys, in this order, this year.
oskirules
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calumnus said:

UC Davis and North Texas are high risk low reward opponents. Shoot add Ole Miss to the list. If we beat all three we will get very little credit for the accomplishment.
Ole Miss would still be a good win, beating an SEC team, especially at their house
If Davis is high risk, then pretty much everyone else is.
dajo9
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If we are moving in the right direction we should comfortably beat North Texas. Tell me - what was their most impressive win last year?
An old white dude
Eastern Oregon Bear
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dajo9 said:

If we are moving in the right direction we should comfortably beat North Texas. Tell me - what was their most impressive win last year?
That's hard to say. North Texas didn't play good teams for the most part. They beat Arkansas 44-17 at Arkansas. Arkansas was bad last year (2-10) but they are an SEC team. North Texas beat them by more than Texas A&M, LSU and Vandy did. I agree, we should beat them by a couple of touchdowns.
Jtm0097
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Hello All, I am a North Texas Alumni/Fan making the trip. I'm not an arrogant fan, I am sure you guys will beat us. However, I do expect a good game.

Quick question, what is the easiest way to get to the stadium from San Francisco. The BART or an Uber/Lyft?
Another Bear
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Jtm0097 said:

Hello All, I am a North Texas Alumni/Fan making the trip. I'm not an arrogant fan, I am sure you guys will beat us. However, I do expect a good game.

Quick question, what is the easiest way to get to the stadium from San Francisco. The BART or an Uber/Lyft?

I would suggest BART. Uber could run you $50 bucks, one way. BART is $4.60 OW. You'll see Cal fans on BART and you can follow them. The walk to the stadium from BART is about a mile, right through campus, mild grade a the very end. Nice walk but there's also a shuttle.
chazzed
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Welcome and I hope that you have a mostly good time at Memorial Stadium. The game will not be a blow out, in my estimation, so you guys could have more of a chance than you're letting on.
Jtm0097
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Thank you for the advice. I know you guys have an awesome secondary. I am looking forward to making the trip to California.

Also, I think our offense against the Cal defense will be a great matchup. Our qb is not the biggest guy, but he is a very accurate passer. We graduated both tackles, so it will be interesting to see how they hold up against the defense.

Good luck to you guys this season!
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