Archive for Thursday, November 5, 1998

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November 5, 1998

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Darrell Dickey is plenty familiar with Kansas University and KU's Memorial Stadium.

Dickey, the University of North Texas' first-year football coach, lived in Lawrence two years when his father, Jim, was a KU assistant coach back in 1973 and '74. The younger Dickey went to school at Kansas State, where he was a four-year starter at quarterback.

He played two games at Memorial Stadium and was 1-3 lifetime against KU.

All of which means nothing when the Eagles (2-6 overall) take on KU at 1 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

"It means something to me," Darrell Dickey said. "I've been there before. I still have friends in the Kansas City area and in Manhattan. I played two games in Kansas' stadium. But it's not anything I'm going to talk to the players about. To them, it's just another football game."

To them, it's just another football game against a highly favored opponent. Kansas is a 16-point favorite according to the few betting-line services that are actually putting a line on the game.

"That's been our role all year," Dickey said. "We've been the underdog all year, but that's OK. We've already been to Norman and Texas Tech and Texas A&M. We jumped to Division One three years ago, and we didn't goof around when we did. A lot of people ease into Division One. We play in the Big West Conference. Hopefully, we can get to the point where we can compete for the conference championship year in and year out. In our nonconference games, we want to be competitive. We've played some great teams. We've hung in there, but, obviously, we haven't won any of those games yet. At times I think we're close. At times I think we've got a long way to go."

It must seem even farther now. In a 41-23 loss to Big West co-leader Idaho last Saturday, the Mean Green lost its starting quarterback, Jason Attaway -- a former walk-on -- to a blown knee.

And UNT's second-string QB, LaDarrin McLane, is suffering an injured shoulder and is "very doubtful" for Kansas.

Thus third-stringer Chase Corley, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior, will start Saturday.

"He was a young man in two-a-days who was battling for the position," Dickey said. "Since the second game of the season, he hasn't had any playing time. He played Saturday and he was very rusty, but he'll be our starter. Now we have to figure out what to do if something happens to him throughout the course of the week."

Given the success of KSU quarterbacks in Memorial Stadium of late, maybe Dickey would give it a go.

"I thought about playing," he said with a laugh, "but I think I might let some of these other guys play instead."

UNT averages 255.9 offensive yards per game and allows 438.9 total yards.

"When we came in, there was quite a bit of turnover," said Dickey, who was hired away from his job as offensive coordinator at SMU to replace Matt Simon. "There were a lot of guys leaving. I got the job in March, and we had some good players, but not a lot of them. We've got some decent players, but our backups don't have a lot of experience."

Count among the good players: center Phillip Armour, a 6-4, 300-pound senior and two-time All-Big West selection; defensive tackle Brian Waters, a 6-3, 279-pound converted tight end who leads the defensive line with 35 total tackles; defensive end Scott Blank, a 6-2, 258-pound senior who led the Big West with 13 sacks last season; and place kicker Garrett Courtney, who kicked a Big West-record 61-yard field goal against Idaho.

Dickey, for one, isn't thrilled to be playing Kansas in the middle of the Eagles' Big West season.

"We started our conference off 2-0, beating two teams we hadn't had a lot of success against," he said. "We played Houston, and we fell apart in the second half. Then we turned around and played Idaho and lost, and now we're stepping out of conference again to play Kansas.

"But the way I approach it, we're starting to build this program, and there will be some rough trips along the way. If we keep competing, keep fighting, we'll get there. But you can't sit around and analyze, is this a conference game or is this a nonconference game? In the back of the players' minds, they realize conference games are very important, but when you play football, you want to play well and you want to compete. That's the important thing."

-- Andrew Hartsock's phone number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is ahartsock@ljworld.com.

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