Jason Bean three better

North Texas quarterback Jason Bean (5) eludes Rice cornerback Andrew Bird on his way to the end zone on a 62-yard touchdown run during the Mean Green's win over Rice earlier this season at Apogee Stadium. Bean and fellow quarterback Austin Aune gained valuable experience this year.

North Texas landed in the postseason on Sunday night, when the Mean Green received a bid to play Appalachian State in the Myrtle Beach Bowl on Dec. 21. 

UNT is 4-5 on the season and could wind up .500 with a win over the Mountaineers.

We'll turn our attention to that game over the next few days, but before we do, it's time for the first installment of our annual series on reasons the Mean Green could be both better and worse next season.

We'll start off today with the positive end and three reasons UNT could be better.

1. UNT played a ton of young players this season

UNT coach Seth Littrell has mentioned more than once this season how much the Mean Green will benefit down the line from having played so many young players.

One look at UNT's depth chart and list of key contributors is all one needs to see his point.

Running back Oscar Adaway III has rushed for 475 yards and two touchdowns in six games as a redshirt freshman. Defensive ends Gabriel and Grayson Murphy didn't move into prominent roles until midway through their redshirt freshman seasons and still have combined for 7.5 sacks.

Loronzo Thompson has moved into the starting lineup at cornerback as a freshman.

Those players will all be better next season.

2. UNT will start from a better place at quarterback

UNT was in a tough spot heading this season at quarterback following the departure of Mason Fine, one of the best players in program history.

Backups Jason Bean and Austin Aune had minimal experience heading into their redshirt sophomore campaigns. The two have split time this season and gained a ton of experience.

UNT also has a highly regarded freshman set to arrive in Oklahoma native Bryce Drummond.

Bean and Aune will have another full offseason to work with UNT's staff that is expected to include a full-time quarterbacks coach. UNT had to depend on a couple of graduate assistants this season after Tate Wallis stepped down in the summer.

3. UNT will have time to continue working to fix its defense

UNT hoped it would take a significant step forward this season defensively under new coordinator Clint Bowen.

The Mean Green are still waiting to see that jump. They're allowing 41.3 points per game.

Bowen changed his lineup multiple times throughout the season and believes he is now putting his players in the right spots to be successful. The Murphy brothers became pass rush specialists. DeShawn Gaddie moved from cornerback to a safety spot.

And those are just two examples.

UNT was in a really tough spot heading into the season. The Mean Green would have benefitted tremendously from having an offseason to adjust to Bowen's system and have him get a feel for what his players could do.

UNT will have a full offseason this year and should see a significant payoff.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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