For the Texas Longhorns, adapting to new head coach Charlie Strong‘s way of doing things could mean some temporary discomfort in 2014. And unfortunately for the Longhorns, there will be no easing into the college football season with the North Texas Mean Green coming to Austin in Week 1.
Now, an upset is very unlikely. For all the challenges that might lay ahead for the Longhorns, they should easily best the Mean Green in the talent department. But that doesn’t mean that the Longhorns won’t be in for a game.
The Mean Green are a team on the rise under head coach Dan McCarney. After winning eight games in the four years before he arrived, the Mean Green topped that number by a win in his first two season. Then, last year, the Mean Green won nine games. The season culminated in a 36-14 thrashing of the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels in the Heart of Dallas Bowl that put North Texas on the national radar.
North Texas should be solid again this season, and if they returned more pieces from last year’s team, they might have been a serious threat to upset the Longhorns. The Mean Green shouldn’t drop off too much now that McCarney has had a few years to recruit his own players, but they will have to find a replacement for three-year starter Derek Thompson at quarterback.
What should give Longhorns fans pause is the way the Mean Green held the Georgia Bulldogs in check for three quarters in Athens’ last season. The Mean Green knotted the game at 21 in the third quarter and it didn’t get away from them until Aaron Murray threw for a touchdown with 43 seconds left in the third quarter to give Georgia a two-touchdown lead.
The Mean Green have some rebuilding to do up front, but added Oregon Ducks-transfer and former four-star recruit Anthony Wallace at middle linebacker. They also return a skilled, veteran secondary who could give David Ash trouble if he is at all rusty.
Topping the Longhorns may be too tall of an order for the Mean Green in 2014, but they could certainly give Texas a scare like the one they gave Georgia last year. Ultimately, it may be the best thing that could happen for the Longhorns.