North Texas vs. Cal

After a disappointing output at SMU, North Texas heads west to take on PAC 12 opponent Cal. The Golden Bears are fresh off turning the Northern Division on its ear by beating #14 Washington 20-19 on the road. Cal is 2-0, North Texas sits in the middle of massive bookend schedule for the Bears between UDub and a roadie to Ole Miss. Here are a few thoughts ahead of Saturday’s game.

Start Fast

In the seminal coming of age film Fandango, Kevin Costner’s character Gardner Barnes advises a heartbroken friend that “the only way to get over a woman is you’ve got to get yourself another one.” He’s right of course about women and football games. Last week North Texas entered SMU with high expectations only to fall behind 21-0 and lose to the Ponies in what the Mean Green hoped would be a validation game.

The best way to get over SMU is to get to Cal and start fast. To start fast, North Texas can’t carry a hangover from Saturday night’s disappointment. That means getting Mason Fine back on track early with quick throws, good protection, and first downs.

If North Texas can get rolling and put points up early, they’ll plant the seeds of doubt in the minds of the Golden Bears. For recreational purposes, Vegas thinks this a two-score game, but the betting money is trending to a Mean Green cover.

Meet Tre Siggers

Holy Cow Tre Siggers is a running back. A legit running back.

The redshirt sophomore from Duncanville ran for 164 yards on eighteen carries with a touchdown and a 9.1-yard average. Not bad for a guy who played safety last season. Versatility is a calling card of Siggers’ since his days at Duncanville High School. It’s little wonder that he jumped back in on offense this season after spending last year as a defensive back.

Rumblings indicated Siggers turned heads in camp, even in a stacked backfield. The Mean Green return DeAndre Torrey, Loren Easley, and Nic Smith. They’ve all played in headlining roles at one point or another. Siggers looks ready for prime time after last week.

He and Torrey helped North Texas to over 200 yards a game and over five yards a carry. Now that Siggers put his abilities on tape at running back, defensive coordinators have one more headache to deal with.

Prepare Yourself

Justin Wilcox replaced Sonny Dykes with a clear directive, get more physical. In year three, he’s made substantial progress. His team traveled to Washington and physically beat the Huskies, sustaining their effort through an extensive lightning delay. They’ll make you work on offense and defense.

Cal’s defense is anchored by perhaps the most underrated defender in the FBS, linebacker Evan Weaver. Weaver is a machine, registering eighteen tackles at Washington. He doesn’t look the part, but he’s relentless. He’s symptomatic of the Golden Bear defense in general, with nothing coming easy.

On offense, the Bears aren’t explosive, but they plug away. If they can avoid turnovers, they handle their business well, but if they give away possessions, they lack explosiveness. The passing game can be a liability with Chase Garber at quarterback, though he did rally for the final drive Saturday night. This team is more comfortable running the ball. Marcel Darcy and Christopher Brown give the Bears a great duo in the backfield.

They are tough. Last week, after spending three hours in the locker room during a weather delay, the Bears had the starch to finish the game where Washington seemed to wilt. Winning on the road in that fashion is proof of concept for Wilcox’ rebuild at Berkley.

The Roundup…