RB Patrick Cobbs

2003 Statistics

Coach: Darrell Dickey
30-41, 6 years
2003 Record: 9-4
at Oklahoma LOST 3-37
at Air Force LOST 21-34
at Arkansas LOST 7-31
at Idaho WON 24-14
at Middle Tennessee WON 33-28
at Louis-Monroe WON 28-26
at New Mexico State WON 13-10
Memphis LOST 17-27

2003 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2004 Outlook

In six seasons on the job, Dickey has transformed North Texas from Big West also-ran to tops in the Sun Belt. The Mean Green have made three 'New Orleans Bowl' trips, won a Division I-A leading 18 straight conference games, and kept the school's sports information personnel busy looking for any comparisons to the current success in the program's 82-year past.

Dickey has mined the talent-rich high schools and junior colleges in Texas and Oklahoma, rarely going outside the two states. He's gradually landing better recruits, and this year's reloading project on defense will show where he's (now) at. But, barring any disasters, North Texas should cruise to another title with Troy State off the schedule, and Middle Tennessee State and New Mexico State at home.

This brings us to the future... Despite being named as a candidate to join the WAC, North Texas recently reiterated its intentions of staying in the Sun Belt. But how long will they be content to be the conference's biggest guppy? To show their relative worth - the Mean Green, who go on the road to face Texas, Colorado and Baylor this season, are 2-14 outside the Sun Belt the past three years. Numbers like that won't get players like Cobbs taken very seriously on a national level. And, eventually, other teams will catch up in the conference if they don't start proving they can be a force outside of it.

So now that North Texas is the class of the Sun Belt, it has to set its goals higher. There's no chance for an opening-weekend upset at Texas, but a distracted Colorado team looks ripe for one (or at least a scare) in Week 3. A 9-2 mark may even have this team getting a few votes in the polls entering the bowls, and a 10-1 record with a win against the Buffs could earn it a ranking.

Projected 2004 record: 9-2
FS Jonas Buckles
QB - 3.5 DL - 3.5
RB - 4 LB - 2.5
WR - 3 DB - 3
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Scott Hall, 165-98-5, 1580 yds., 13 TD

Rushing: Patrick Cobbs, 284 att., 1570 yds., 17 TD

Receiving: Johnny Quinn, 30 rec., 653 yds., 3 TD

Scoring: Patrick Cobbs, 19 TD, 114 pts.

Punting: Brad Kadlubar, 65 punts, 40.8 avg.

Kicking: Nick Bazaldua, 9-14 FG, 42-43 PAT, 69 pts.

Tackles: Jonas Buckles, 50 tot., 35 solo

Sacks: Evan Cardwell, 6 sacks

Interceptions: Markeith Knowlton, 4 for 38 yds.

Kickoff returns: Ja'Mel Branch, 10 ret., 20.3 avg., 0 TD

Punt returns: Ja'Mel Branch, 12 ret., 7.7 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Nick Zuniga-OG, Ian Hobbs-OG, Randy Gardner-TE, Justin Claborn-FB
DEFENSE: Brandon Kennedy-DT, Taylor Casey-LB, Cody Spencer-LB, Chris Hurd-LB, Craig Jones-SS, Jeremy Pearl-CB

Senior Scott Hall, a starter since his freshman year, is back for one more tour of duty. The 6-1 pocket passer has some wheels that occasionally get put to use. Coming back from a pectoral tear in 2002, Hall regained the starting gig five games into last season and led the team on an eight-game winning streak and a third straight Sun Belt title. He's been a winner since his scholastic days (won 62 of 67 prep starts), but all's not lost without him. Backup Andrew Smith filled in nicely for Hall in '02 and was the starter during the non-conference slate last fall. Smith does not have the feet or decision-making skills of Hall, so a healthy Hall is essential for Eagle success.

Running Back
All that returns here is the nation's leading rusher in Cobbs, who was the scourge of the Sun Belt. In his first year as the starter, he ran for 1,680 yards (at 152.7 per game, his rushing average was 15.4 yards better than the runner up) and scored a national-best 11.5 points per game. No reason to think he won't do it again, not with a strong line coming back and a solid passing game to open up the box. Cobbs runs by people with a low center of gravity to go with his powerful speed. Roy Bishop compliments him well - he is a taller "power" back and an experienced backup for Cobbs. Smallish sophs Cordale Baldwin and James Mitchell will get a handful of carries splitting time at fullback, but don't expect great lead blocking from either. The unit will come down a notch or two if Cobbs is hurt.

Most importantly, there's a nice mix of speed and reliability here to open up the field for Cobbs. The top two wideouts are back in deep threat Johnny Quinn and multi-faceted Ja'Mel Branch. To give it to you in a nutshell, as a redshirt freshman last fall, Quinn led the Green with 34 receptions and averaged 20.9 yards per grab with decent speed. A senior short-yardage target, the 5-7 Branch is probably the best athlete in the conference. He has reliable mitts, is a threat out of the backfield (63 career carries), and returns punts and kicks (rumor has it he also sells programs before home games and changes the coaches' oil for them, too). The third option is soph Joel Nwigwe, another fast player who can stretch secondaries like rubber bands. The group got a boost by the return of senior Kevin Howard, the team's third-leading receiver in '02 who left the program last fall.

Tight End
Senior Andy Blount is a potent threat in the passing game, and Hall isn't afraid to go to him. Blount averaged 18.9 yards per catch, was the Mean Green's second-leading receiver, and his five TD grabs were a team-high. He's a 6-4, 240-pound bruiser who will be oft-used in coach Darrell Dickey's two-TE sets (along with Syracuse transfer Beau Davidson, who had an outstanding first spring with the team).

Offensive Line
With four starters back, the question is how good this unit can be. Senior center Andy Brewster, an all-conference pick, bulked up (from 247 to 275) and will again be the anchor. With a few shifts, this is the same line Cobbs utilized in '03. These guys don't just run-block, for opponents only got to the QB 18 times in 13 games. To judge the level of play of this offensive unit, just keep an eye on this dimension. If these guys struggle for injurious reasons, it will be noticed in the 'W' and 'L' columns.

After rolling through the Sun Belt again (and again), don't expect Dickey to change anything. This offense runs more than twice as much as it throws, and Cobbs will once again be the work-horse engine. A secret no longer, teams will inevitably flood the box to slow him down. But Dickey is surely ready for that eventuality. He has the athletes to air it out when required, which he showed in the spring game when each side passed (an uncharacteristically high) 20 times. It is just too hard for defenses to figure out what the Eagles will do next, regardless of their run-to-pass ratio of five-to-two. But if teams can get them to third-down, they often stop North Texas. This is still a premiere arsenal in the Sun Belt, though, what it can do against the likes of Texas and Colorado remains to be seen.


QB Scott Hall


Returning Starters in bold
QB Scott Hall-Sr (6-2, 212) Andrew Smith-Jr (6-0, 191)
FB Cordale Baldwin-So (5-10, 195) James Mitchell-So (5-9, 192)
RB Patrick Cobbs-Sr (5-9, 205) Kevin Moore-So (5-9, 193)
WR Ja'Mel Branch-Sr (5-7, 171) Joel Nwinge-Jr (5-11, 170)
WR Johnny Quinn-So (6-0, 199) T.J. Culberson-Sr (5-10, 164)
TE Andy Blount-Sr (6-4, 240) Beau Davidson-Jr (6-4, 230)
OT Jason May-Jr (6-4, 295) Jeremy Brown-Fr (6-5, 299)
OG Lonnie Chambers-Sr (6-3, 290) Jonathan Jusiewicz-Sr (6-4, 288)
C Andy Brewster-Sr (6-2, 275) Ephraim Patterson-Jr (6-3, 280)
OG Aaron Harvey-Sr (6-1, 312) Dylan Lineberry-So (6-3, 310)
OT Weston Thaggard-Jr (6-4, 295) Damion Nobles-Sr (6-4, 289)
K Nick Bazaldua-Jr (5-10, 165) Denis Hopovac-Jr (5-10, 181)



Defensive Line
This group is big, athletic and experienced. Evan Cardwell isn't now-departed Kennedy, but the 283-pound senior led the team in sacks (six) and is the new focal point of this front four. Michael Pruitt, a lauded JUCO transfer who finished third behind Kennedy and Cardwell with 10 TFLs, will assume a starting spot in the middle. Tommy Harrison provides speed at one end, and 275-pound Adrian Awasome has size to go with much athleticism and prove him worthy of his name. Awasome didn't go out for basketball last season and therefore participated in spring drills for the first time. The two senior DEs were solid starters last year, but need to improve on their combined six sacks and 10.5 TFLs.

Like the O-line last fall, this area has the Mean Green worried. Three all-conference LBs, who happened to be the team's top three tacklers, must be replaced. There's not a whole wealth of experience to plug into these holes, and a tough non-conference schedule could be scarred for the entire campaign if the non-cons run rough-shod over them. Among the likely replacements, Dickey was most impressed with junior strong-side LB Sean Early in the spring. The speedy Early has the most experience, too. Redshirt freshman David Mendoza, a former walk-on, was a surprise this spring at weak-side LB. He has nice size at 248 pounds, but will have to compete with incoming JUCO transfer Travis Thompson. Thompson is smaller at 225, but has 4.6 speed. Junior Arthur McNac has limited experience as a reserve, but his 260-pound frame makes him an ideal road block inside. The Sun Belt's stingiest run defense (ranked 15th in all I-A) will have to hope the pass defense remains solid, at least in the early going.

Defensive Back
Like the line, this group is still solid despite losing its best player. The Mean Green were fourth in the Sun Belt in pass coverage while giving up merely 19 aerial TDs. Those numbers should drop with the return of Jones' partner, FS Jonas Buckles, and both starting cornerbacks. Quick and aggressive, Buckles has amassed three all-conference selections, 154 tackles and 11 picks entering his final season. Top cover CB Walter Priestley, a little guy who loves to hit, has 37 career starts. Counterpart Markeith Knowlton is another physical guy who had a team-best four picks, despite adjusting after being moved from safety. There's depth everywhere, including incoming JUCO transfer T.J. Covington, a highly touted prospect with decent speed. This is a tough, nasty group that had 18 INTs last fall and should continue to wreak opportunistic havoc.

Dickey's success the past few years has been built on the backs on his defensive side, which just had its finest season under him. The offense got the better of them in the spring game - this is a possible sign that things are starting to even out. Replacing the entire LB crew is a crucial test for the viability of this up-and-coming program, but the studs who are back up front and in the rear should assure that this unit remains strong, if not spectacular.


DE Adrian Awasom


Returning Starters in bold
DE Tommy Harrison-Sr (6-3, 235) Raifu Durodoye-Fr (6-1, 237)
DT Michael Pruitt-Sr (6-1, 288) Chris Miller-Jr (6-1, 270)
DT Evan Cardwell-Sr (6-3, 283) Montey Stevenson-Fr (6-2, 287)
DE Adrian Awasom-Sr (6-5, 275) Joel Foster-So (6-4, 268)
OLB Derek Mendoza-Fr (6-1, 248) Maurice Holman-Fr (6-1, 225)
ILB Arther McNac-Jr (6-0, 260) Issac Colbert-Fr (6-1, 234)
OLB Shawn Early-Jr (6-0, 215) Phillip Graves-So (6-2, 211)
CB Markeith Knowlton-Sr (6-0, 205) LeMario Hollis-So (6-0, 177)
CB Walter Priestley-Sr (5-10, 185) Dominque Mackey-Jr (6-1, 196)
SS Allan Harrison-So (6-2, 199) Christopher Walthall-Fr (6-0, 200)
FS Jonas Buckles-Sr (5-11, 213) Cass Starks-So (6-1, 205)
P Brad Kadlubar-Sr (5-11, 198) Nick Bazaldua-Jr (5-10, 171)




Nick Bazaluda is back after putting up solid stats as a sophomore, converting nearly 98 percent of his PATs and hitting 10-of-15 field goals. He was just 2-of-6 beyond 40, though, with a long of 49. Bazaluda's toe and the team's overall team quickness sparked the best kickoff coverage in the conference at just 14.1 yards per return, another plus for the 'D'.

This should be a strength with senior Brad Kadlubar back. Named to the Ray Guy Award watch list last fall, he led the Sun Belt with forcing 19 fair catches and 23 kicks inside the 20 as he averaged 40.4. Only one kick went into the end zone! Kadlubar has been like a 12th man for that tenacious defense the past two years.

Return Game
The versatile Branch was more potent on kicks (19.7 yards per return) than on punts (7.7 per). He'll again contribute to both units, but he'll have plenty of help. Backup running back Kevin Moore used his speed to average 25.2 yards on 10 kick returns. Quinn took the lead punts late in the season and averaged 10.0 per attempt. There's speed everywhere, so this area shouldn't be a concern.