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Mean Green Interview with Clay Byington

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We've done everything in our power to fully inform you about Oklahoma's first opponent, North Texas, but I know we've left something out. We think that it's unacceptable for you, the Sooner fan, to not know all there is to know about the Mean Green as they trot out onto Owen Field Saturday night to take on the #8 Sooners so we decided to turn it over to the expert.

I'd like to welcome Clay Byington from the North Texas Daily. Clay is not only a staff writer for the Daily but he's also an expert on the University of North Texas Mean Green football. On top of all that he's cool enough to take the time to hang out and answer a few of our questions.

CC Machine: This will be Todd Dodge's debut as the head coach of the Mean Green and we understand that he is transforming the offense from a ground and pound rushing attack to a wide open spread attack. Tell us what we should expect to see from the North Texas offense Saturday night?

Clay: The buzz around Denton is amazing. This place has been electric since the arrival of coach Dodge. I expect to see the use of a lot more talent with the new offense. Brandon Jackson will finally get to step out and be a number one receiver after the departure of NFL-bound Johnny Quinn. This is also an opportunity for QB Daniel Meager to start fresh and show his skill in a completely different scheme. Giovanni Vizza, a freshman from San Antonio, challenged Meager for the starting job in the past few weeks, but it's much more comforting knowing we have more experience under center in this "think on your feet" offense.

CC Machine: Can or will Jamario Thomas return to the performance level we saw from him as a freshman in 2004?

Clay: Super JaMario did turn some heads in 2004, but injuries have plagued him since. Last year was Patrick Cobbs's senior year. Cobbs did much in 03 like Thomas did in 04. In fact, Thomas was breaking many of Cobbs's records from the year before. As far as 2007 is concerned, Jamario is looking to have another great year. He is back to full strength and enters as the feature back in the North Texas backfield. The new offense should favor him, despite the fact that he won't get near as many carries. It should cause defenses to key on more offensive weapons, and allow him to slip in big plays every once in a while. Look for a productive year out of Jamario Thomas, but nowhere near the stellar numbers of 2004.

CC Machine: The North Texas defense is deep with returning talent but is going with a scheme shift as well. How do you think they'll attack the Sooner offense?

Clay: The majority of defensive players I have talked to are very happy with the scheme shift because they are returning to the 4-3. The defensive linemen should be able to make more plays, rather than just filling holes in the 3-4, and get more pressure on the quarterback. With two talented and experienced defensive ends in Blake Burruss and Jeremiah Chapman, I'm looking for them to apply a lot of pressure on the young quarterback for Oklahoma, Sam Bradford. But we all know you can't take your eye off of RB Allen Patrick, or he will hurt you. Just because Adrian Peterson is gone, it doesn't mean you Sooners can't run the ball.

CC Machine: Tell us a couple of UNT players on offense and defense that we should keep an eye on Saturday night.

Clay: Players to watch:

Offense:
Daniel Meager, QB #7, 6-1 198
Jamario Thomas, RB #20, 5-11 210
Brandon Jackson, WR #49, 6-1 208
Casey Fitzgerald, WR #87, 5-11 186

Defense:
Aaron Weathers, DB #38, 6-0 203
Jeremiah Chapman, DE #90, 6-4 243
Blake Burruss, DE #89, 6-7 275
Brandon Monroe, LB #4, 6-2 234

Punter Truman Spencer #23 is also one of the elite punters in the nation, which may come in handy during this game, so keep an eye on how he attempts to keep the Sooners away from good field position.

CC Machine: What is the measure of success for the Mean Green in this game?

Clay: Obviously I don't expect us to walk away from this game 1-0, but it will be a chance for Coach Dodge and the Mean Green to show that they will no longer be a pushover. Success will be gauged by whether or not we show the ability to move the football and put points on the board. The offense was horrendous last year and I would just like to see a little production. I believe the defense will hold its own and make a little noise, but in the end, I would just like to walk away from this game and say, "Well, at least we made it interesting."

CC Machine: Care to give us a score prediction?

Clay: Fun season opener, but in the end: OU 38, NT 17

CC Machine: Thanks again for you time, Clay!

Clay: I really appreciate the opportunity to share my humble opinions with Soonerland, and if you ever need anything else, dont be shy, just holler. Good luck to you and the Crimson and Cream Machine. I hope to speak to you in the future.

Go Mean Green!