DT Brandon Kennedy

2002 Statistics

Coach: Darrell Dickey
21-37, 5 years
2002 Record: 8-5
at Texas LOST 0-27
at Alabama LOST 7-33
at TCU LOST 10-16
at Arizona LOST 9-14
at Arkansas State WON 13-10
at Louis-Lafayette WON 27-0
at Middle Tennessee WON 30-20
Cincinnati WON 24-19

2002 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2003 Outlook

This looks to be a good North Texas team. Most importantly, the offense should be better. The return of Scott Hall at QB will bring a passing threat back, and the promise of the running game looks to be better than imagined. The key will be keeping Hall healthy. The offensive line will have their work cut out for them, going against some stout defensive fronts in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and even Arkansas State. As long as they do their part and open holes for Ruff and keep defenders off Hall, the offense should be okay. Expect Hall to put up numbers and Ruff to stake claim as conference offensive freshman MVP.

Defensively they will be fine. The main ingredient, again, is health. Keep these 11 guys healthy and they've got themselves a damn good football team. If the new starters on the defensive line rise as well- look out!

The schedule starts tough with a premier of the nation's top two defenses in Norman on August 30th. If UNT wins this, then they could cause rumblings for a BCS spot the rest of the season...dreams do come true, sometimes. After that, non-conference games include Baylor and Arkansas (at home), and Air Force (road), before hitting the Sun Belt season. Then there's the season finale on November 25th on ESPN2 at New Mexico State, in a game that will most likely decide the conference champ.

The bottom line is that defenses rarely win championships if the offense doesn't score. This should be an up-year in the Sun Belt and competition is getting better. The offense will be improved, but NMSU will have an entire season to prepare for one game. North Texas will relinquish the conference crown for this season, but still win enough to create quite an argument to be an at-large team in a lower-tiered bowl.

Projected 2003 record: 9-3
SS Craig Jones
QB Scott Hall
DT Brandon Kennedy
RB Michael Ruff
QB - 2 DL - 3.5
RB - 2.5 LB - 4
WR - 3 DB - 4
OL - 3 ..

Passing: Andrew Smith, 174-82-8, 1080 yds., 7 TD

Rushing: Patrick Cobbs, 155 att., 732 yds., 7 TD

Receiving: Ja'Mel Branch, 24 rec., 357 yds., 2 TD

Scoring: Nick Bazaldua, 9-14 FG, 22-28 PAT, 49 pts.

Punting: Brad Kadlubar, 78 punts, 42.3 avg.

Kicking: Nick Bazaldua, 9-14 FG, 22-28 PAT, 49 pts.

Tackles: Taylor Casey, 111 tot., 58 solo

Sacks: Brandon Kennedy, 9 sacks

Interceptions: Cody Spencer, 2 for 49 yds.

Kickoff returns: Ja'Mel Branch, 15 ret., 18.7 avg.

Punt returns: Ja'Mel Branch, 28 ret., 7.8 avg.


OFFENSE: J.R. Randle-OT, Matt Turney-OT, Jonah Bense-OG, Jeff Muenchow-TE, Michael Hickmon-FB, Kevin Galbreath-RB, George Marshall-WR
DEFENSE: Darrell Daniels-DE, Chris McIver-DT, Don McGee-CB

written by Tim Chapman

The upside to the Mean Green offense seems to be the receivers. Though they like to run the ball more than they throw, the Mean Green will have three good receivers. Junior Ja'Mel Branch is the catalyst of this offense. He is most dangerous in the open-field, where his speed and agility exploit any gaps and give the Mean Green chunks of yardage. Along side him will be seniors Michael Thrash and Kevin Howard, with both rotating playing time. Thrash is a well-sized target who is both dependable and a great downfield blocker. Howard is the pony on the outside that brings a deep threat. Expect the receiver position to be much improved and more involved.

Even with insuring potential at receiver, if you can't effectively deliver the ball, potential means nothing. Andrew Smith started the remainder of 2002 after Scott Hall went down in the fourth game. His inconsistency (46% comp, 7/9 TD/INT ratio) and poor decision-making must improve if the Eagles are to pose any real offensive threat. It is likely that senior Scott Hall will regain the reigns of starter by August. Hall is the better passer of the two and has a few years of experience in the system. He makes better decisions and is not afraid to shoulder a hit or two to assure a perfect throw. His health will be a key factor.

The running game loses their leading rusher and most all of last year's offensive firepower, as well as their #1 fullback. There is, however, extreme optimism in the TB replacement. Redshirt freshman Michael Ruff has wowed the coaching staff with his progress this spring and looks to be the number one guy heading into fall. Junior Patrick Cobbs is a back up worth fearing.

The offensive line was strong last season, giving up only 17 sacks all year. But they return only two starters. Senior OG Nick Zuniga is the bell-cow of this group and will need to be extra sure that his line-mates protect their injury-prone QB. The Green has recruited two noteworthy junior-college linemen in Lonnie Chambers and Damien Nobles to help bring some beef to this inexperienced assembly. If the offense clicks this season, it will start with the men up front.


OG Nick Zuniga


Returning Starters in bold
QB Scott Hall-Jr Andrew Smith-So
FB Chad Boyd-Jr Jimie Williams-So
RB Patrick Cobbs-So Michael Ruff-Fr
WR Ja'Mel Branch-Jr Kevin Howard-Sr
WR Michael Thrash-Sr Joel Nwigwe-So
TE Randy Gardner-Sr Andy Blount-Jr
OT Weston Thaggard-Fr Joel Foster-Fr
OG Dylan Lineberry-Fr Jonathan Jusiewicz-Jr
C Andy Brewster-Jr Lonnie Chambers-Jr
OG Nick Zuniga-Sr Cory Hall-Jr
OT Jason May-So Ian Hobbs-Sr
K Nick Bazaldua-So ..



written by Tim Chapman

This defense is being mentioned as one of the best in the country and may be the best all-time at UNT. No kidding. Eight starters come back from a unit that was ninth in the country in total defense and third in scoring defense. They are quick, strong, and most of all - aggressive. Most teams found out the hard way just how good these guys are. 105 teams will have the luxury of not playing these guys, but you can be sure that they will bring hell to the 12 that do.

They are lead by All-American caliber senior DT Brandon Kennedy. Kennedy (72 tackles, 24 TFL, 9 sacks) is an all-out wall up front, stopping (or diverting) anything up the middle. Drawing double- and (sometimes) triple-teams, he still manages to make tackles and bull his way into opposing backfields. He has such a low center of gravity and brings so much explosion and power in those legs, that many O-lines are little affect against him.

As if Kennedy wasn't enough, junior DE Adrian Awasom gives the 'Green a menacing pass-rusher on the exterior. He compliments Kennedy's prowess on the inside by buzzing his way into backfields and stepping into passing lanes to force a back into the eye of the defensive storm. Offenses gain no advantage against this line by choosing run or pass.

UNT's three starting linebackers are the best group in the nation. This trio of seniors, Taylor Casey (OLB), Chris Hurd (OLB), and Cody Spencer (MLB), finished 1, 2, and 5, respectively, on the team in tackles a year ago. Casey is the most potent of the three. He runs like a fox and hits like a tank. He is able to read a play before it develops and makes the appropriate adjustments to blow it up as (or before) it unfolds. If he's not there, Hurd and Spencer are. Hurd is fast and nimble, while Spencer is another set of keen eyes on defense. He sees what happens and makes sure it doesn't get past him. He may be the most valuable player in the back seven and one of the more underappreciated defenders in the country.

The secondary returns in tact, losing only one starter to graduation. Seniors Craig Jones (SS) and Jeremy Pearl (CB) will be the ones anchoring the rear support. Two sophomores complete this crew. Jones gives the UNT a Mike Doss-type safety who can roam the secondary and bring the pain just as easily. Jeremy Pearl had an impressive bowl game and is expected to carry that performance over to '03.

The only real concern this defense has is staying healthy. This group is relentless and stingy - one of the best units in the entire country. But if even one or two players go down, this group may be in trouble. Depth is thin at all spots, especially the D-line, which must break in two new guys opposite Kennedy and Awasom.


LB Taylor Casey


Returning Starters in bold
DE Luke Conder-Sr Tommy Harrison-Jr
DT Brandon Kennedy-Sr Chris Miller-So
DT Evan Cardwell-Jr Trey Davis-Sr
DE Adrian Awasom-Jr Grady Davis-So
LB Taylor Casey-Sr Montrell Parks-Jr
LB Cody Spencer-Sr Justin Claborn-Sr
LB Chris Hurd-Sr Koryee Wyatt-Sr
CB Jeremy Pearl-Sr LeMario Hollis-Fr
CB Walter Priestley-Jr Dominque Mackey-So
SS Craig Jones-Sr Shawn Early-So
FS Jonas Buckles-Jr Markeith Knowlton-Jr
P Brad Kadlubar-So ..




Sophomore kicker Nick Bazaldua hit on 10-of-15 FGs in '02, but missed six extra points. That simply cannot happen if they anticipate some big-time upsets this year. He gives them a good leg, but must be a little more consistent. Junior punter Brad Kadlubar averaged 42 yards per kick, which will play nice in pinning opponents deep in their own territory. The return game will be exciting with Ja'Mel Branch back deep. Defensive wanna-be(s) will adorn the coverage teams, so look for hungry, frenzied play to give opponents poor field position consistently.