Indiana and North Texas set to renew old rivalry

North Texas coach Dan McCarney understands how Indiana coach

Kevin Wilson operates.

Wilson’s rapid-tempo offense makes it tough to keep pace,

prevents substitutions and creates mismatches.

”They want you to be misaligned or to miss a play,” McCarney

said. ”They do dictate some of what you can do with your

personnel. So you better get lined up and get ready because they

will take advantage of that.”

McCarney has seen this before and he didn’t even have to pop in

tapes of the Hoosiers to remind himself.

All McCarney had to do is think back to the last time these

coaches were on the field together back in January 2009. Wilson was

Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator. McCarney was the defensive line

coach at Florida. The venue was Miami, site of the national

championship game.

McCarney won that one 24-14.

With both coaches now in their first season at new programs,

McCarney is relying on his knowledge to help the Mean Green (0-3)

prepare for their first Big Ten opponent.

”You will see probably the fastest tempo you’ll ever see at a

North Texas home game,” McCarney said. ”You can do all you can to

simulate it. What we did at Florida was trying to have two scout

teams coming at you, and it still wasn’t enough to simulate it.

They almost make it impossible to match tempo because they are so

fast.”

The Hoosiers (1-2) have certainly cranked things up since

Wilson’s arrival.

In the season opener, the play clock rarely hit single-digits.

Since then, Indiana has been slightly more deliberate. The result:

Virginia needed an 11-point rally in the final 96 seconds to beat

Indiana in Week 2, and last week, Wilson finally got his first

win.

Up next is his first road trip as Indiana coach.

And while this game won’t come with the high stakes from 2009,

both coaches think it could send a critical message about the

direction of their programs.

In McCarney’s case, he just wants to prove the Mean Green can

win in their shiny new stadium.

For Wilson, it’s all about changing the Hoosiers’ culture.

”I think this game is going to be a bigger challenge than

most,” he said. ”I’m excited to see can we practice hard after

success, can we take it on the road to North Texas.”

Road trips have been rather unkind to the Hoosiers in the

pre-Wilson era.

Since winning at Oregon in September 2004, the Hoosiers are 8-29

outside of Bloomington. And when playing beyond the state borders

or those states bordering Indiana, the Hoosiers have won only one

game during that span – Sept. 29, 2007, at Iowa.

Why would this week be different?

Well, the Mean Green haven’t won under McCarney yet and come

into Saturday’s game with the NCAA’s worst-ranked defense. But

Wilson points out that North Texas is the nation’s only team to

face three unbeaten opponents.

”To me, I look at their defense and I don’t think it’s the

worst in the country. I think that’s just a number put up by three

good teams,” Wilson said referring to losses against Alabama,

Florida International and Houston.

”It’s going to be a challenge for us, so I don’t think this is

a game where we just line up and here we go,” Wilson added.

The Mean Green have just eight wins since 2007 and are 12-96

all-time against BCS schools, and McCarney is trying to improve the

football program, its reputation and the team’s classroom

grades.

It’s all a work in progress.

But at least North Texas has receiver Brelan Chancellor, who

leads the nation with 226.7 all-purpose yards per game, and Lance

Dunbar, who is chasing the school’s career rushing record.

Will that be enough to keep Wilson’s speedy offense off the

field?

McCarney knows it wasn’t easy for Florida, and it won’t be any

easier Saturday.

”I enjoy coaching against people I really respect and I really

respect Indiana and Kevin Wilson,” McCarney said. ”You know who

deserves to be head coaches and who should get those opportunities

and it’s good to see someone like Kevin getting that opportunity.

They’re going to come into this game believing they can win it, and

we’re going to come in here believing we can win it.”