Coach: Dan McCarney (22-27, entering fifth season; 72-112 overall)
2014 record: 4-8 overall, 2-6 Conference USA; fifth in C-USA West
Look back: After opening the season 2-2, a four-game losing streak put North Texas into a hole it could not overcome on its hunt for a winning season.
The Mean Green offense struggled all season and ranked No. 114 nationally in total offense with 325.9 yards per game while the defense had hiccups during a key stretch of Conference USA games. Coach Dan McCarney, a former UF assistant coach during Urban Meyer’s tenure, praised his team for making progress but often offered blunt assessments about miscues on both sides of the ball.
Offensive starters returning: 6
Offensive starters lost: 5
Defensive starters returning: 6
Defensive starters lost: 5
Key losses: WR Carl Caldwell, RB Reggie Pegram, LG Mason Y’Barbo, LT Antonio Johnson, RT Cyril Lemon, DT Alexander Lincoln, DE Daryl Mason, LB Derek Akunne, CB James Jones, SS Lairamie Lee
Top returnees: QB Andrew McNulty, RB Antoinne Jimmerson, C Kaydon Kirby, WR Carlos Harris, WR Darvin Kidsy, TE Marcus Smith, DT Sir Calvin Wallace, DE Chad Polk, LB Fred Scott, LB Jamal Marshall, CB Kenny Buyers, K Trevor Moore, P Blake Macek
Strengths: Quarterback Andrew McNulty returns to lead the North Texas offense and tossed three touchdown strikes during the Mean Green spring game. He will get help from receiver Carlos Harris, whose 863 receiving yards last season leads Conference USA returning players.
Kicker Trevor Moore also has been steady, earning Freshman All-America honors after hitting 15-of-17 field-goal attempts and connecting on 37-of-37 extra-point attempts.
Eight players joined North Texas in the spring, with the hope they can help address some of the problem on both sides of the ball.
“There’s a lot of competition in this room,” McCarney told his players after the spring game, according to the school’s website. “We’ve got a chance to be a damned good football team.”
Weaknesses: While McNulty brings experience to the huddle, he had more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (six) last season.
The Mean Green lost three offensive linemen, a position group that had issues last season, and two defensive linemen, an area that was one of the strengths of the 2014 team.
North Texas also will have to offset the loss of its top three tacklers last season following the departure of Derek Akunne (108), James Jones (59 ) and Lairamie Lee (57).
Outlook: The Mean Green doesn’t have a strong winning tradition, with McCarney’s 22 wins already ranking him among the top 10 in school history. He has made strides and helped North Texas become a force at home, but it may take more time to get players to buy in and help deliver consistent winning seasons.
Sept. 12 at SMU
Sept. 19 Rice
Sept. 26 at Iowa
Oct. 3 at Southern Miss
Oct. 10 Portland State
Oct. 15 Western Kentucky
Oct. 24 at Marshall
Oct. 31 Texas-San Antonio
Nov. 7 at Louisiana Tech
Nov. 14 at Tennessee
Nov. 21 at Mid. Tennessee
Nov. 28 UTEP
College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com