By: Anthony Miller
A new era of North Texas Mean Green football as Eric Morris takes over at head coach for the 2023 season and the school joining the AAC.
Coach Morris is inheriting a 7-7 squad that includes losing to UTSA in the Conference USA title game and Boise State in the Frisco Bowl. North Texas finished with a 6-2 conference to give them their berth in the conference title game.
Morris spent last season with Washington State as their offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. Previous to his time at Washington State, Morris was the head coach at Incarnate Word from 2018 through 2021 racking up a 24-18 record.
Expectations will be similar despite a new coach in place. The team will be striving for a bowl while they get their footing under them in the AAC after previously being in Conference USA.
North Texas Mean Green Season Preview
Key Players To Roster
Stone Earle/Chandler Rogers, QB
One of the biggest questions entering the season was who North Texas would roll with at quarterback.
During the spring and summer, the battle was between Stone Earle and Chandler Rogers. The decision was made to have Earle start the season opener against the Cal Golden Bears. Rogers will get playing time during the game though.
Earle made just four appearances as backup last season for North Texas recording 110 yards rushing and 45 yards passing with two total touchdowns scored. He previously played two seasons at Abilene Christian.
Rogers is playing his first season at North Texas after transferring from Louisiana-Monroe. In 24 games played, he completed 66 percent of his passes throwing for 3.704 yards with 24 touchdowns and ten interceptions. He also ran for 710 yards and six scores on the ground during that span.
The quarterback situation will be fluid as the team looks to find their starter early in the season. Both quarterbacks are mobile with Rogers having more collegiate experience than Earle. It may take a bit for the team to figure out the go-to guy.
Ayo Adeyi/Ikaika Ragsdale, RB
North Texas’ running game will be led by running backs Ayo Adeyi and Ikaika Ragsdale.
In 2022, Adeyi was the leading rusher on the team with 807 yards and scored four touchdowns. He averaged 7.2 yards per carry for the team.
Last season, Ragsdale was second on the team in rushing yards (750) and led the team in rushing touchdowns (seven). He finished on Phil Steele’s Fourth-Team All-Conference USA team.
Ragsdale is the starter on the team while Adeyi is the home run hitter for the Mean Green. While the team figures out their quarterback position, the offense will lean on their top backs to pick up big yards.
Febechi Nwaiwu, RT
The Mean Green found a solid starting offensive lineman in Febechi Nwaiwu after completing freshman season last year. Nwaiwu started 12 games for the team as he helped lead one of the top 25 rushing attacks in the nation.
North Texas has at least three more seasons with the Mean Green and has proven to be a top run blocker. He’s going into the season as one of the top offensive lineman in the conference. The team will look for Nwaiwu to keep growing and improving.
Mazin Richards, DE
Mazin Richards is the team’s top pass rusher and was a force in Conference USA last season. Richards recorded 78 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks on the year. He earned All-Conference USA accolades from multiple publications for his strong season.
The defense will be leaning on their senior defensive end to produce his strongest season yet. Richards is quick off the edge and can get to the quarterback. With their leading tackler from last year Larry Nixon III now at Auburn, Richards becomes the veteran leader on the defense.
Ridge Texada, CB
The Mean Green have their top shutdown corner back for his junior season with the team after putting up a stellar sophomore campaign. Ridge Texada recorded 43 tackles, 15 pass breakups, and three interceptions in 12 starts. He was named on either the First-Team or Third-Team All-Conference USA teams last year.
Texada took big strides in 2022 with more playing time under his belt. He has a chance to be an impactful player for this defense in 2023. This is his chance of taking a bigger role in leadership on the defense and continue to get better in pass coverage.
North Texas’ opening game against the Cal Golden Bears will be a challenge for them despite being the home team. After Cal, there are some winnable games the next five contests that could have them at a winning record heading into the back stretch of their schedule.
At the start of the seventh game on the calendar, the Mean Green will be going through a gauntlet of the top teams in the AAC the next four games. They start with Tulane on the road, back home against Memphis, at home once again against UTSA, and finish with SMU in Dallas. If the team can pull off one win during the stretch, they should find themselves in bowl season.
They close their season on the road against Tulsa and at home against UAB. These should be the games that help them solidify their spot in a bowl game in December.
The transition to the AAC will be the biggest challenge for the program as the level of competition increases for them. 13 total starters are back for North Texas giving them good experience to have going into the season.
North Texas needs to figure out the quarterback position quickly if they want to hang with the top teams in the conference. There will be some challenges along the way, but Morris has a good team around him and should make a good first impression on the folks in Denton, Texas.
Final Record: 7-5 (4-4 AAC Record)
Featured Image via X (@MeanGreenFB)