LB Brandon Monroe

2004 Statistics

Coach: Darrell Dickey
37-46, 7 years
2004 Record: 7-5
at Texas LOST 0-65
at Colorado LOST 21-52
at Baylor LOST 14-37
at Utah State WON 31-23
at Louis.-Lafayette WON 27-17
at Arkansas State WON 31-7
vs. Southern Miss LOST 10-31


2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

At 25 straight Sun Belt wins, North Texas has the second-longest conference winning streak of any Division I-A school. As long as the Eagles remain in the Sun Belt (and neglects the forward pass), one of these years, someone will knock them off. Conference fans might not have to wait long - the Mean Green face some nasty issues on both lines and in the secondary.

To make matters more challenging, unlike last year, Troy is on the schedule (in Denton, though), while the Eagles have to travel to Murfreesboro to take on Middle Tennessee State in a Week Two game that will likely find this team still unsettled. A November date against at Florida Atlantic is dangerous, given that the Owls upset them last season in a non-conference game at Denton. North Texas will earn anything they get.

So, even with two national rushing champs in the backfield, a fifth straight conference title would still be a statement for this program. The variable will be their well-rounded QB Byerly, who can keep defenders off balance due to the commitment they must make to cover areas in case he runs. Roll-outs and play-action, when used optimally, should deliver plays that will make defenders “stay home” instead of stacking the box. As the D bounces back, we will see more competitive games, and North Texas in better position to win late in such tilts. The range of how/where this team could land is wide.

No matter the conference, such consistency at the Division I-A level is a mark of program that's here to stay. It might be time for the school to think about following Idaho, New Mexico State and Utah State into the WAC, a move that could lift the quality of Darrell Dickey's Texas and Oklahoma-laden recruiting classes to new levels.

At some point, though, North Texas has to win some non-conference games before it can truly say it's arrived. The Mean Green are 2-19 outside the Sun Belt the past four seasons, including an 0-5 run last year where they were only competitive against Florida Atlantic. This year, Tulsa is the best bet, as LSU, Kansas State and La. Tech are each mountains to climb.

For now, though, the focus has to be on just completing the five-peat in the Sun Belt, then riding that momentum into a big ‘06 effort. Thirteen freshmen, including Jamario Thomas, saw time last year, an indication of promise for 2005, and even better days ahead.

Projected 2005 record: 8-3
K Nick Bazaldua
QB - 2 DL - 2
RB - 5 LB - 3.5
WR - 3 DB - 2
OL - 2.5 ..

Passing: Joey Byerly, 12-5-0, 73 yds., 0 TD

Rushing: Jamario Thomas, 285 att., 1801 yds., 17 TD

Receiving: Johnny Quinn, 49 rec., 773 yds., 9 TD

Scoring: Jamario Thomas, 17 TD, 102 pts.

Punting: None

Kicking: Nick Bazaldua, 14-18 FG, 37-38 PAT, 79 pts.

Tackles: Brandon Monroe, 63 tot., 42 solo

Sacks: Jeremiah Chapman, 2 sacks

Interceptions: Phillip Graves, 2 for 0 yds., Derek Mendoza, 2 for 24 yds.

Kickoff returns: Zach Muzzy, 23 ret., 15.2 avg., 0 TD

Punt returns: Johnny Quinn, 14 ret., 8.5 avg., 1 TD


OFFENSE: Lonnie Chambers-OG, Andy Brewster-C, Weston Thaggard-OT, Andy Blount-TE, Kevin Howard-WR, Scott Hall-QB
DEFENSE: Adrian Awasom-DE, Evan Cardwell-DT, Tommy Harrison-DE, Michael Pruitt-DT, Walter Priestley-CB, Markeith Knowlton-S, Jonas Buckles-S, Brad Kadlubar-P

Sure, the graduation of starting QB Scott Hall has some folks worried in Denton. Head coach Darnell Dickey was so concerned about replacing Hall (who seemed like he'd been starting for the Mean Green since the days of “Mean” Joe Greene) that he considered bringing in a JUCO-prospect. But redshirt soph Joey Byerly, a rather mobile 250-pounder, looked good enough during the spring to ease concerns. He was the spring game’s top rusher and passer. Byerly certainly didn't have to look great, though. As long as he can hand off the ball and run occasionally, there won't be any dropoff. With a rebuilt offensive line, his mobility will be a necessity. Jonathan Ieans, a 6-5 pocket passer, is a reserve option.

Running Back
While it's not USC, this is still one of the most exciting backfield tandems in the country. Even with holes to fill everywhere and a slightly improved conference, the return of Jamario Thomas and Patrick Cobbs is enough to give this entire team the edge in the Sun Belt. After leading the nation in rushing two years ago, Cobbs was injured early last fall. That paved the way for then-true freshman Thomas to step in and lead the nation with 180.1 yards per game, nearly 12 yards better than the runner-up. Thomas, who was the No. 2-rated RB out of Texas when he was recruited, will likely get a slight edge in carries, while the explosive Cobbs will be used in a variety of roles. How they work together and how they do behind that young line will be the defining keys to this team's success. The fact that the spring game ended 7-6 doesn't seem promising, as Cobbs had 28 yards on eight carries and Thomas finished with nine rushes for 16 yards. At fullback, junior James Mitchell, who was second last fall with 205 yards, is more of an additional ball-carrier and reliable receiving target than a blocker.

With the offense built around the running game, anything about of these guys is basically lagniappe. They could be a big plus if Byerly is able to locate top returning receiver Johnny Quinn, who had nine TDs. Quinn put on weight and went out for track this spring. He is poised to develop into an addition playmaker for this team. Problem is, there aren't many left to help in taking the heat off Quinn. Redshirt soph Zach Muzzy, who was tied for third with 16 catches, could be a top possession guy, but he needs to mature. Brandon Jackson, a converted-DB, showed signs of being an occasional threat this spring. Realistically, don't expect much offensive balance out of the passing game unless results are earned via creative play-calling (sequences). Byrely’s feet should afford these guys some marginal time for development, but foes will figure this out quickly, so this corps has to be ready to pick up any slack by late September, at worst.

Tight End
Considering the lack of quality receivers, the graduation of Andy Blount hurt. Blount was the team's No. 2 snarler the past two seasons. Beau Davidson, a Syracuse transfer, is a solid blocker who had four grabs, while JUCO-transfer Jimmy Chaney is more of an extra lineman than a receiving threat. So, expect to see two-TE sets quite often, but not many routes off the line.

Offensive Line
Quite possibly, the only (other) returning starter will be junior Joel Foster, who moved over from the defensive line to take the LT spot last fall. Soph RG Dylan Lineberry, the Sun Belt's Newcomer of the Year, is in junior college trying to get eligible, while RT Weston Thaggard quit the team. Two starters and three second-teamers graduated, leaving a (not-yet-mean) green bunch to take over. Jeremy Brown, who was starter at RT as a true freshman, will have to step up. Senior center Ephraim Patterson and the five O-linemen in this year's recruiting class will, too, need to contribute right away. Depth and size will also be primary problems, especially in tilts outside the Sun Belt, and the early season slate doesn't exactly allow for developmental time. As good as the RBs are, this area could cost the Green their Mean and their conference hopes, especially with an inexperienced QB taking the snaps.

Once again, this offense ran nearly twice as much as it threw. With two national rushing leaders in the backfield and a lack of playmakers in the passing game, that stat (and results) could get even more lopsided. The weak link this year, though, is that offensive line. When teams inevitably flood the box, Cobbs and Thomas could have nowhere to run. Some big plays out of Quinn and more catches out of the backfield could open things up, but Byerly has to have time to throw. The mobility (and unproven arm) of Byerly is the one variable that can keep foes from gaining ground. If the offense loses its sting, don't expect the defense to bail this team out. Even with Hall, this team ranked 107th in the nation in pass offense, though 34th in aerial efficiency shows they can make a go of it if the limited passing is on target.


RB Jamario Thomas

RB Patrick Cobbs


Returning Starters in bold
QB Joey Byerly-So (6-4, 254) Daniel Meager-Fr (6-1, 180)
FB James Mitchell-Jr (5-9, 192) Chris Nevins-Jr (6-3, 224)
RB Patrick Cobbs-Sr (5-9, 205) Jamario Thomas-So (5-11, 195)
WR Johnny Quinn-Jr (6-0, 199) Joel Nwigwe-Jr (5-11, 180)
WR Zach Muzzy-Jr (5-10, 175) Brandon Jackson-So (6-1, 190)
TE Robert Harmon-Jr (6-4, 265) Beau Davidson-Jr (6-4, 230)
OT Joel Foster-Jr (6-4, 268) Josh Alexander-So (6-3, 282)
OG Jason May-Sr (6-4, 295) Micah West-Fr (6-3, 280)
C Chad Rose-Fr (6-3, 285) Brian Amacker-So (5-11, 267)
OG Dylan Lineberry-Jr (6-3, 310) Ephraim Patterson-Sr (6-3, 280)
OT Jeremy Brown-So (6-5, 299) Michael Mazzola-So (6-3, 280)
K Nick Bazaldua-Sr (5-10, 171) Denis Hopovac-Sr (5-10, 181)



Defensive Line
And you thought the O-line was starting over... Moreover, five members of last year's New Orleans Bowl two-deep here are gone, including all four starters. Plenty of work will have to be done to maintain a run defense that was third in the Sun Belt as an inexperienced bunch takes over. The returnees, DTs Chris Miller and Montey Stevenson and DE Blake Burruss, didn't really distinguish themselves in backup roles last year. Look for Willie Ransom, a JUCO-signee out of Coffeyville, to step in right away. Still, this group was strong enough to dominate their offensive counterparts in the spring game, so this program seems capable of reloading here.

This area is packed after just going through a major re-tooling last year. The going could be that much tougher, however, if the line doesn't develop. Sophomores Brandon Monroe (OLB) and Derek Mendoza (ILB) took their lumps as freshmen, but showed signs of improvement this spring. Senior OLB Sean Early sat out with a knee injury, giving athletic JUCO-transfer Brandon Thompson a chance to shine. Capable backups Arthur McNac, Maurice Holman and Philip Graves each return, making this a deep, well-rounded group. Again, not a wealth of size here, but these guys fly to the ball. Problem is, they may have to tangle with more linemen than they're used to, so quick acceleration and good instincts (first steps) will be key. Having had last year to develop those, the LBs should (at least) keep the run defense solid.

Defensive Back
Three starters on the 95th-ranked pass defense are gone, but, if the spring is any indication, it should be improvement through subtraction. The secondary has reportedly fared well under new assistant coach Van Malone. CB T.J. Covington, a prized JUCO-transfer two years ago out of Coffeyville with 4.4 speed, is the lone returnee and the obvious choice for top-cover guy. Big-bodied senior Dominique Mackey should take over at the other corner, while juniors Cass Starks (SS) and Allan Harrison (FS) move into the starting safety roles. The additions of former do-everything WR Ja'Mel Branch and Coffeyville-transfer Aaron Weathers give the group some needed athleticism. This won't be a great secondary, but it will be a little tougher to complete big-plays against.

Until last year, defense is really what carried this program. If the spring game is any indication, ‘04 was an anomaly. This fall will be a good test of whether they are capable of reloading after huge losses on the line and in the secondary. Both looked promising this spring. Then again, that was against an offense (line) with plenty of question marks as well. The key is the run-stopping via this line, which also will struggle at times to create pressure for the secondary while freeing up the LBs. The back seven will find themselves overworked in a hurry if the D-line doesn't come through. Though, in a conference as weak as the Sun Belt, it just matters that the D (at least) hold its own.


WR Johnny Quinn


Returning Starters in bold
DE Jeremiah Chapman-So (6-4, 245) Blake Burruss-So (6-7, 252)
NT Chris Miller-Sr (6-1, 270) T.J. Raymond-So (6-2, 310)
DT Sky Pruitt-Jr (6-2, 295) Montey Stevenson-So (6-2, 267)
DE Eli Hutchinson-Sr (6-4, 240) ..
OLB Brandon Monroe-So (6-2, 220) Maurice Holman-So (6-1, 225)
ILB Derek Mendoza-So (6-1, 248) Travis Thompson-Sr (6-2, 225)
OLB Shawn Early-Sr (6-0, 215) Phillip Graves-Jr (6-2, 211)
CB T.J. Covington-Sr (6-2, 190) Deavin Cox-So (5-9, 195)
CB Ja'Mel Branch-Sr (5-7, 171) Tyrone Carter-Jr (5-8, 176)
SS Cliff Higgs-So (6-1, 222) Christopher Walthall-So (6-0, 200)
FS Roderick Cotton-So (5-10, 202) Cass Starks-Jr (6-1, 205)
P Nick Bazaldua-Sr (5-10, 171) Truman Spencer-Fr (6-3, 200)




Bazaluda earned first-team all-conference honors after hitting 14-of-18 FGs, which included going 9-of-9 within 39 yards. He has good range for a Sun Belt kicker, though, having hit a 51-yarder. Coverage was a respectable third in the Sun Belt despite slipping from 14.1 yards per return to 19.5. They will hold somewhere between these statistical stanchions, a field-position plus for any new QB.

One of the biggest holes to fill is that of Brad Kadlubar, possibly the Sun Belt's most consistent punter the past three seasons. Look for senior kicker Nick Bazaluda to take over. Bazaluda, launched a 54-yard punt two years ago in his only collegiate attempt. Coverage ranked 46th nationally despite allowing two TDs, but both of those stats improve as the defense finds its cohesion.

Return Game
Quinn (punts) and backup RB Kevin Moore (kicks) are two of the craftiest specialists in the conference, while Muzzy is a dependable option on kicks. Still, the Eagles finished in the middle of the pack among conference teams in both categories. The potential to break off some longer runs is there. Look for Dickey to work harder to exploit that, given the uncertainty on both sides of the ball.