It’s not just the start of the 2016 season for North Texas, it’s also the start of a new era.
The football program has struggled over the years, but those dark days may finally be over. UNT brought in one of the brightest offensive minds in college football, Seth Littrell, to take over as head coach. Littrell helped turn the offense at North Carolina into one of the nation’s best last season. He now has the task of putting the Mean Green back on the college football map.
So is this considered a rebuilding project?
“It’s always a transition into the new system, coming in with a new coaching staff. Everybody has to build relationships and get on the same page,” said Littrell. “It doesn’t come overnight, it takes time.”
You wouldn’t think that a team coming off a 1-11 season would have a little “swag” but that appears to be the case in Denton. It showed during Media Day Monday at Apogee Stadium.
“The atmosphere is way different,” said wide receiver Terian Goree. “Our team has some swag, we feel like we can win. We all believe in what the coaches are saying. We are about to win this year.”
“The atmosphere is just way better,” added defensive end Jareid Combs. “Having the coaches around, the more energy we have, I feel like everyone has bought in. Everybody just feels more confident coming into this season. I know I especially do.”
Another new addition for the Mean Green is at the quarterback position. Alec Morris spent four seasons at Alabama as the number three quarterback on the depth chart and was on the Crimson Tide’s national championship teams in 2012 and 2015. The former Allen Eagles standout saw action in three games last season, but chose to leave Alabama and transfer to North Texas for a shot at more playing time.
The adjustment has been relatively smooth for Morris.
“It’s definitely nice to be back in Texas,” said Morris. “The guys when I got here in January were all really welcoming. I made a great group of friends. The whole team is pretty close. So for me, the adjustment wasn’t really too hard.”
North Texas opens up the 2016 season on September 3rd against cross-town rival SMU. Kick-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Apogee Stadium in Denton. Needless to say, the players and coaches are excited.
“It’s a game where the guys know a lot of the same players and played against each other in high school,” said Littrell. “But it doesn’t matter if it’s SMU or Bethune-Cookman or Florida or whoever it is, you ought to be excited about playing every game.”
There will be challenges along the way for the Mean Green, including the trip to Gainesville to face the Gators in mid-September before diving into conference play. North Texas is picked to finish last in Conference USA’s West Division. However, that’s not affecting the team’s mentality going into the season.
“We’ve just been out here working everyday trying to get better so we could have a good season this year,” said Goree.
Written by C. James