UNT Offseason Questions: Can Evil Green Compete in American?

North Texas has a lot of problems to solve ahead of Eric Morris’ rookie season as Mean Green coach next fall.

Former Washington State Offensive Coordinator led a team that finished 7-7 after losing to Boise State in the Frisco Bowl.

We’ll be looking at the biggest of these issues over the next few weeks in our annual UNT off-season question series.

Today we start with the overarching issue of the Evil Green Face.

Can UNT be competitive in its first season at the American Athletic Conference?

This summer, the school moves from Conference USA to the American, which is considered a higher-level league.

Morris expressed confidence that UNT would be able to compete in the Americans right away.

“I don’t know why we can’t do this,” Morris said at his opening press conference. “I have been to America. I was there in Houston for two years. I really, really like the conference, and I kind of know what the talent pool looks like there. I know what we have on the list now. I think we can get to the top of this conference very quickly.”

Houston, Cincinnati and Central Florida are leaving the league for the Big 12, but several teams that UNT is familiar with will still be in the conference when Mean Green debuts this fall.

UNT lost both games to the current Americans last season when Mean Green lost to SMU and Memphis. Both will remain league members in 2023.

UNT is one of six schools moving from C-USA to American. Games against these teams went much better for Mean Green.

UNT went 2-3 after beating Florida Atlantic and Rice. The Mean Green lost twice to UTSA and lost to UAB.

Predicting how the UNT will fit with these teams and the rest of the teams in America is something of a prediction at the moment. The league has yet to release a full list of conference games, and Mean Green’s roster is constantly changing.

Not knowing who will play the UNT, or the quality of the Angry Green recruiting class, makes predicting how competitive they will be in America a guessing game at best.

The only adversary UNT knows exactly what it will face during the conference in its first year in America is SMU. The league called the Mustangs a natural rival for the Mean Green.

SMU has hosted the UNT for years and has won four games in a row in this series. Mean Green have won six of their last seven meetings with Rice, another team that looks set to make their list of conference games. While UNT had the Owls number, Mean Green barely won 21-17 this year.

It’s just that there won’t be many easy games in the American. Mean Green are looking to bring back several talented players, including tight end War’Caes Gumms and guard Ridge Texada, who can help them capitalize on their opportunities.

Both Gumms and Texas were selected to the All-C-USA First Team last season. Their return will greatly help the UNT.

The problem for UNT is that he has lost several players who helped pave the way for his sixth bowl appearance in seven years.

Midfielder K.D. Davis was named C-USA Defensive Player of the Year and made 137 tackles as a senior. Quarterback Austin He threw for 3,547 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2022 and entered the NFL Draft.

Forward Manase Moze was selected to all conferences as a senior first team player.

None of these players will be easily replaced, especially in a season that UNT faces in conference jumps.

Will the Evil Greens be able to make a successful transition to the American in a year when they change coaches too?

For the UNT, there is no bigger question.

BRETT VITO can be contacted at 940-566-6870 and on Twitter at @brettvito.

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