|Father, son look to reverse North Texas' fortunes|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 01 September 2009 22:08|
The redshirt freshman quarterback was already quite familiar with both.
Three years after leading his father's high school team to a championship in Texas' largest classification, Dodge is looking to lend his dad a hand again - this time in hopes of turning around a stagnant Mean Green program.
Todd Dodge was 3-21 his first two seasons at North Texas after making the rare jump from the prep ranks to college before his son's senior season. The coach is coming off a 1-11 season that produced many trying moments on and off the field.
``There is no doubt we were all frustrated,'' said Riley Dodge, who makes his first college start at quarterback in the season opener Thursday night at Ball State. ``We didn't have the ideal season. The frustration showed in his (father's) face.''
ass 5A powerhouse Southlake Carroll, about a half-hour drive from the North Texas campus. Riley Dodge threw for 4,284 yards and 57 touchdowns with 1,119 yards and 13 TDs rushing as a junior in 2006 to help his dad win a fourth state title in a five-year span. The lone loss in that span was by one point in the 2003 championship game.
The same kind of success has been elusive so far on the college level.
The Mean Green have been last nationally in scoring defense the last two seasons. And things weren't much better on offense, which according to the elder Dodge took a step back in his second season instead of improving.
North Texas also made unpleasant headlines off the field. Dodge ordered drug tests for all 86 players last fall, and 15 tested positive.
``A nightmare'' is how Dodge describes the 2008 season.
``I think you get to a certain point that a group of players and coaches have to get together and say 'It stops,''' Dodge said. ``This disappointment and this losing stops. Not because we say it's going to stop. It's going to stop because of what we do day in and day out.''
M. That opened the door for Riley Dodge, who played three games and started once as a receiver last season before a concussion led to a medical redshirt.
uri star Chase Daniel, the only Carroll alum with more than Riley Dodge's 8,143 total yards, are the two best quarterbacks he's ever coached.
Plus, the younger Dodge knows the complex system.
``I don't have to worry about coming into a program trying to learn the offense,'' Riley Dodge said. ``We've put a lot of new stuff in. I'm having to learn that as we go. But the basic meat of our offense, I've been around that since middle school. It's nice to have that familiarity.''
Still, with the graduation of Casey Fitzgerald, the national leader in receptions each of the past two years with a combined 224 catches, the Mean Green look to have a more balanced offense.
North Texas will lean on an offensive line that returns five starters and senior running back Cam Montgomery, who rushed for a team-leading 928 yards.
``The one thing our offensive staff is excited about is our ability to spread the production around. It got way too skewed the past couple of years,'' Todd Dodge said. ``Casey Fitzgerald will probably always be one of the favorite guys I've ever coached. But I hope to never have the leading pass catcher in the nation again while I'm at North Texas.''
In order for the offense to give North Texas a chance to win games, the defense will have to make huge improvements after allowing 48 points and 483 yards per game last season.
e in 2008, the Mean Green return nine starters and hope experience will pay dividends.
``A lot of guys were thrown out there to the wolves,'' senior linebacker Tobe Nwigwe said. ``There were some bumps and bruises because a lot of the young players felt uncomfortable. They're really comfortable now and their confidence level is really high.''