There are a lot of good reasons to be excited about North Texas’ prospects heading into the 2022 football season.
The Mean Green have a host of solid players returning and some promising recruits set to arrive before they kick off the season at UTEP.
We went over several of the promising aspects of UNT’s team earlier this week in the first installment of our annual look at five reasons for optimism and pessimism when it comes to the upcoming season for the Mean Green.
We finish off the series today with five reasons to be skeptical of the Mean Green as they look to build on a 6-7 campaign.
1. UNT lost quite a bit of talent to graduation and transfer
Teams lose players every year. It’s the nature of college football.
An honest look at UNT’s roster shows the Mean Green were hit particularly hard when it comes to top-end talent.
Running back DeAndre Torrey graduated after leading UNT with 1,215 rushing yards. Dion Novil was an anchor in the middle of the Mean Green’s defense the last several years, while linebacker Tyreke Davis and safety Makyle Sanders were consistent contributors.
And those are just the players UNT lost to graduation. Defensive ends Gabriel Murphy and Grayson Murphy transferred to UCLA. Jacob Brammer also elected to transfer and landed at Vanderbilt.
None of those players will be easy to replace.
2. UNT didn’t exactly clean up in the transfer portal
Teams on the Group of Five level live and die largely by how they perform when it comes to landing players from the transfer portal these days.
UNT landed a few promising players from the transfer market. Missouri transfer wide receiver Jay Maclin looks like he will contribute right away. Defensive end Tom Trieb and safety Nicholas Nakwaasah look like they could start.
What one has to wonder is if the Mean Green added more talent than they lost. It just doesn’t look like UNT upgraded its talent dramatically.
3. The quarterback spot is still a question
UNT coach Seth Littrell opened up the quarterback spot to competition in the spring and brought in transfers JD Head and Stone Earle to compete with returning starter Austin Aune.
Aune showed signs of improvement in the spring after throwing for 1,991 yards and nine touchdowns last season. He was clearly better than Head and Earle.
Even if Aune is better and wins the job, it’s hard to imagine him making a dramatic jump late in his career. If Earle and Head end up sitting the bench, they will both represent largely wasted scholarships.
4. There is not a lot of proven top-end talent returning
UNT had just four first- or second-team All-Conference USA selections last season. Linebacker KD Davis was the Mean Green’s lone first-team pick, while Torrey, Novil and offensive lineman Manase Mose were second-team picks.
Davis and Mose are the only players among the four returning.
UNT also lost honorable mention all-league picks in tight end Jason Pirtle, Brammer and Grayson Murphy.
There just are not that many proven elite C-USA players on the roster.
5. The pressure is on UNT to produce
UNT has not posted a winning season since 2018 or won a bowl game since 2013. The Mean Green have gotten to the postseason in five of six seasons in Littrell’s tenure only to drop a bowl game.
UNT had a golden opportunity last year but fell to Miami (Ohio) in the Frisco Football Classic.
The Mean Green are going to be under a ton of pressure to break through this fall. That pressure could get to UNT, especially if things don’t go well early.