22 September 2012

An Obama sighting in ... Texas?

Dan McCarney addresses the Mean Green Friday.
I haven't had time to blog about my game this weekend, North Texas vs. Troy, but it's not because I haven't been preparing for it. I arrived in Denton on Friday afternoon and quickly headed to highly-regarded Apogee Stadium, which opened last year, for the Mean Green's walk-through. I ended up seeing a more than credible impersonation of President Barack Obama, about the last thing I expected to find in Texas, as part of the North Texas post-game speeches.

The impersonation came from actor Aaron Norvell, who played under Dan McCarney at Wisconsin in the early 90s and was one of two of McCarney's former players invited to speak to North Texas following its light workout. As McCarney put it, "I don't let anybody speak to this team unless they're special, I love them, or both," and it was a nice way to close the afternoon.

In terms of the game, it's a great "battle of philosophies," as Troy head coach (and Friday birthday boy) Larry Blakeney put it, between Troy's wide-open, up-tempo aerial attack (537.7 yards per game) and the battering, physical, ball-possession approach favored by North Texas. To put it in perspective, Troy threw more passes in one game this year (75 against Louisiana-Lafayette) than North Texas has all season (73). Both teams, former conference powerhouses, badly need a win to get into the Sun Belt Conference title race.

The real key to the game, though, will be turnovers. Troy is an abysmal -5 on the season, including turnovers on four straight possessions against Mississippi State last week - the Trojans wound up losing by one score. North Texas is +3, and I think the Mean Green will have to win the turnover battle again to open the year with a win.

Apogee Stadium, opened 2011.
For more on the game, check out the excellent blogs by the teams' respective beat-writers, outgoing Drew Champlin (Dothan Eagle) and  Brett Vito (Denton Record-Chronicle).

Tonight's game kicks off at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN3 and WatchESPN. Follow @jtyardley for more coverage before and after the game.

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