Article Originally Published by Preston Rios on North Texas Daily
North Texas hosts Houston Baptist (2019: 5-7, 2-6 Southland Conference) Saturday evening in the first eligible week of the college football season to begin play against non-power-five conferences. Saturday’s game will be the first sporting event for North Texas since March.
“I feel extremely blessed for the opportunity to go out there with the guys to coach football and watch them compete and have fun,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “The energy has been great and we’ve been preparing for [Houston Baptist] for a couple of weeks.”
The Mean Green in 2019 faced adversity from numerous injuries throughout the season and finished the season fourth in the Conference-USA West standings at (4-8, 3-5 C-USA). The 2020 season for North Texas will be different after losing four-year starters in quarterback Mason Fine, defensive end Ladarius Hamilton and other seniors who played in Littrell’s first four seasons.
Multiple new faces joined the coaching staff during the offseason for North Texas. These additions include the hiring of co-offensive coordinator Mike Bloesch, defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, special teams coordinator Mike Ekeler, defensive line coach Eric Mathies and quarterback coach Tate Wallis. Also, Steven Haunga joins the staff as an offensive quality control coordinator and Mackenzie Morris as the lead football recruiting coordinator.
Senior captain and wide receiver Jaelon Darden said working with new coaches and personnel on the staff during the summer camp has improved the team’s identity and didn’t affect game strategies.
“Nothing has changed with our mindset and knowledge of the game,” Darden said. “It’s been taken to the next level the way we needed it to be achieved with. I feel like we’re going to be good offensively and defensively.”
Offensively North Texas returns Darden as last season’s leading receiver in yards (736) and touchdowns (12), including junior running back Tre Siggers leading the way with 898 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Senior running back Deandre Torrey returns in healthy fashion after playing 10 games last season and producing a total of 967 yards of offense.
Houston Baptist’s defense in 2019 ranked second to last in the Southland Conference averaging 36.8 points and 496 total yards allowed per game.
With Siggers and Torrey competing at the running back position, Littrell says the position has opened up the versatility of the offense.
“The depth of our running backs has been a huge plus with their experience and you feel good with these guys rotating and staying fresh,” Littrell said. “Our receivers are an explosive group who have had a great camp with getting in rhythm and timing with the quarterbacks. I think the tight-end play has been as good as it’s been physically by understanding our blocking schemes and by getting out there being athletically on and off the ball.”
“Both of these guys have had good camps and I feel like I can win with both of them,” Littrell said. “At the end of the day, I’ve spoken with them and said they’ll both play. When one gets hot he might be playing more. I feel better even now knowing we have two guys competing to help us win football games.”
Last season Aune appeared in two games with one touchdown and 136 yards on 4-for-5 attempts throwing. Bean played in seven games throwing three touchdowns and three interceptions on 22-for-35 attempts with 176 yards.
Defensively the Mean Green return the linebacker duo of KD Davis and Tyreke Davis, who played in all 12 games last season combining for 80 solo tackles.
The Huskies offensively finished second in the Southland Conference in scoring and total offense with 35.8 points and 462.6 yards per game. Senior quarterback Bailey Zappe threw for 3,811 yards, 35 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 12 games.
The leading receiver for Houston Baptist from 2019 is senior Ben Ratzlaff who amassed 1,187 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. The Huskies two leading rushers in Dreshawn Minnieweather and Ean Beek combined for 1,451 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 237 attempts in 2019.
“[Zappe] has a good arm and likes to throw it around the field who avoids contact,” Davis said. “The rest of the offense is decent but it’s mainly by the quarterback.”
Saturday’s game will be played at Apogee Stadium at 6:30 p.m., where safety protocols mandate a 25 percent capacity in the stadium seating and 50 percent capacity in the suites. Face coverings are required while on the school campus and inside Apogee Stadium.
Featured Image: Redshirt Freshman QB Jason Bean runs passed UTEP defender on Nov. 2, 2019. Image by Zachary Thomas
Source: North Texas Daily