Denton, TX (Denton Record Chronicle) - Just a few months ago, it appeared as if Riley Dodge would never be anything more than a situational player for the remainder of his career at North Texas, at least when it came to playing quarterback.
Now, it appears as if the course of the Mean Green's season will rest largely with the former Southlake Carroll standout yet again.
Dodge came into the season as UNT's Wildcat formation quarterback and backup slot receiver, but was little more than an emergency backup at quarterback sitting third on the depth chart. Season-ending injuries to starter Nathan Tune last week against Rice and backup Derek Thompson on Saturday at Army changed what UNT will ask Dodge to do the rest of the season.
Dodge is UNT's starting quarterback yet again.
UNT head coach Todd Dodge and UNT's players expressed confidence in Riley Dodge's ability to handle the job following a 24-0 loss to Army on Saturday at Michie Stadium.
"[Riley] will definitely get better as we go down the stretch," Todd Dodge said. "He was not able to come in and spark anything today. I could have never imagined our two guys who competed for the job during camp would be out by week three."
That is exactly the situation UNT faces after Thompson broke his left leg against Army. Tune dislocated his hip last week in the Mean Green's loss to Rice.
UNT lost Thompson in the second quarter when he was hit at the end of a 1-yard run by Army defensive lineman Jarett Mackey. Riley Dodge came in after Thompson was taken to the locker room on a cart.
UNT's offense struggled with both quarterbacks in the game. Dodge threw for 63 yards and rushed for another 16 in his first full game at quarterback since a loss to Arkansas State in the Mean Green's final game of the 2009 season.
Dodge broke his arm in that game while trying to make a tackle following an interception. The injury was one of several that forced his move to wide receiver.
Dodge played in the Wildcat in UNT's first two games of the season and did not throw a pass.
Dodge threw for 1,975 yards as a redshirt freshman last season, when he played in 10 games. He made the move back to quarterback last week after UNT lost Tune for the season.
Going into the game at quarterback was a tough situation for Dodge because it meant that another one of his teammates had gone down with a serious injury.
"You don't want to see Derek go down," Riley Dodge said. "Those guys [Thompson and Tune] are good quarterbacks, good leaders and good friends of mine. You don't want to see that. It's the cards we were dealt. I'll have to step up."
While UNT didn't score with Dodge at quarterback, it did move the ball at times. Dodge connected with running back Lance Dunbar on a 19-yard pass on a 10-play, 35-yard drive. UNT reached the Army 9-yard line on the drive before Dodge was sacked on fourth-and-goal from the 14-yard line by Josh McNary.
UNT will look to Dodge to build on that performance next week when the Mean Green opens Sun Belt Conference play at Florida Atlantic.