Let's dispense with what we know is true about this week's game against LSU, wherever it's played. Hurricane Ike will determine that. Basically, this isn't a game UNT should be playing, but that's a discussion for another time.
The weeks ahead are more important, offering chances for palpable progress at Rice and in Sun Belt Conference play. This is a painful 0-2 start for Todd Dodge, his staff and players. UNT fans aren't faring much better, but those who find perspective are probably the wiser.
Everyone has a theory: That UNT lacks talent, that its offensive and defensive schemes are still too new, that Dodge is in over his head, that the spread offense is so prevalent in college it's too predictable, that Darrell Dickey left UNT's recruiting in shambles, that UNT is a third-rate program and always will be, that the non-conference schedule is a morale-killer, that UNT can't beat anyone in the trenches, that a new stadium is the answer, that the university has nickel-and-dimed football into this situation, that academics and athletics have too long pulled in opposite directions, that when others like SMU or Sun Belt rivals move forward or prosper, it's to UNT's detriment.
Grains of truth exist in some, but not all of them. From personal experience watching college football, I'm certain this is the youngest team I've ever seen. Among veterans, there are precious few impact players, which only exacerbates breakdowns.
Among UNT's 101 players, 43 are freshmen (true or redshirt), and 19 sophomores bring the underclassmen count to 62, or over 60 percent of the roster. Also, 21 of the 101 aren't even on scholarship because of UNT's Academic Progress Report penalty. On Saturday, UNT played 13 freshmen and started four.
I don't know if Gary Patterson ever had a team this young at TCU. Pretty sure Mack Brown never did, and Les Miles can count his blessings on Saturday. Is Dodge doing everything right? I doubt any coach 14 games into his college career does. Hard as it is to watch, he and his program both need time to grow up. Feel free to disagree.