North Texas is a scary season-opening opponent for K-State.
That’s right — the same team that went 2-10 in the Sun Belt Conference, a league that is usually regarded as the worst in big-time Division I football.
Don’t laugh too hard at the Mean Green, though. There are several reasons why they could make the Wildcats very uncomfortable Saturday night.
North Texas averaged about 300 yards passing in 2007, the first season for coach Todd Dodge. The Mean Green had plenty of ups and downs, learning the spread offense and taking their lumps by playing young, inexperienced players. North Texas should be improved in 2008.
The Mean Green will return at least eight offensive starters for Saturday’s season opener. That includes sophomore quarterback Giovanni Vizza, who showed some flashes of talent in 2007. Just ask Josh Freeman how much a quarterback can progress between his freshman and sophomore seasons, and he could probably give you some good ideas.
On the flip side, it’s hard to gauge the experience of K-State’s defense.
If you look at the Wildcats through purple-colored glasses, you could say they’re returning eight starters. Also, all those junior college transfers give K-State extra players who have college football experience.
But it’s not that black and white.
First off, K-State’s starting defensive ends Ian Campbell and Eric Childs both spent most of 2007 playing outside linebacker. Sure they both played end in 2006, but they played the position in a 4-3 scheme, not a 3-4.
Cornerback Josh Moore, who started toward the end of the 2006 season, sat out last year and redshirted. Outside linebacker Antwon Moore started two games in 2007 before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament and missing the remainder of
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the season. It’s been a long time since either of them has played in a real game.
One reason why K-State can say it has a bevy of returning starters from 2007 is because the Wildcats had so many different starting lineups. The only player who still is playing his same position and consistently started during the end of 2007 is Chris Carney.
Now, there is some truth to defensive starting lineups being overrated. Most teams will rotate in several players not on the starting lineup.
However, most teams have several players who will start no matter what. For K-State, Campbell is definitely a superstar, but as we know, he will be moving back to defensive end.
There are questions surrounding 10 of K-State’s 11 starting spots. The only one who still is playing the same position and is the obvious starter is Carney.
Trying to get a defense with that many concerns to compete by the end of the season is a tall order. Expecting it to figure things out during game one could result in a very close game Saturday.
Jon Garten is a senior in print journalism. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.