There were many changes in North Texas’ 2018 spring game. Most importantly, we couldn’t call it the Green & White game since the offense was wearing white, and the defense was wearing black. Additionally, there was a feeling of hope upon a foundation that has been built over the past two seasons.
We were no longer looking for someone who could complete a pass or run the offense. Mason Fine, Jalen Guyton, Rico Bussey, Michael Lawrence – the list is fortunately lengthy – all have the expectation of not only a competent pass game, but one of the better offenses in the country. That strange feeling is relief in the knowledge that going into the spring game, we are taking a look into the future: Kason Martin, Cade Pearson, and a stable of running backs whose names aren’t Jeff Wilson.
That said, I’ll quickly go through some observations.
The Pass Game
Mason Fine looked improved, going through progressions and identifying keys during a handoff or dropback. My biggest knock is that decision-making needs to be quicker. He’s identifying open guys downfield – something that he’s struggled with the whole youth and inexperience thing – but it takes a couple ticks too long to make the decision to go long.
Guyton looked like his old self, and Bussey actually caught a contested ball (in all fairness he continues to be a YAC monster). Greg White was a late surprise in last year’s class, and showed well in the spring game. With good speed and size, he could take up Turner Burner Smiley’s mantle next season.
With Darden and Mike Lawrence out with injury (I heard), Keegan Brewer got plenty of use. Brewer was that guy we forgot we were excited about after he transferred from Kansas last season. He was targeted plenty, got open frequently, and will likely compete for time with the other two small inside receivers.
I needed more Kelvin Smith, iwbh. Oh yeah Cade Pearson looked decent while limited to out routes, screen passes, and handoffs. Kason Martin graduated early from high school and looks it. I am super excited about Martin, but let’s give him some time to develop.
The Run Game
I’m not certain why Nick Smith didn’t get much time. It’s possible that his reps weren’t necessary. I think the same could be said about Evan Johnson. Deandre Torrey shined, for me. Loren Easley and Christian Hosley showed ability around the edge, but struggled to break tackles. Torrey isn’t a tackle breaker himself, but he makes it difficult to get tackled in the first place. Shifty, one cut, explosive ankle breaker. I really want to see him in a live game, and how they use him in the pass game.
Credit to the offensive line, they did a decent job. It took them a while to gel in the game, but they started creating big holes to run through. I dig the move for Jordan Murray inside. As a pulling guard, he is an angry blocker when he is going downhill.
As may be evident from the rest of this post, my main focus was on the offense. Kemon Hall and Makyle Sanders were actively disrupting plays, however. In year three of the 3-3-5, and it still needs some speed up front. I am ok going blitz happy. Make the quarterback hesitate. But hoping the swivel upon which his head is mounted is rusty, rather than just sacking or hitting, is a losing proposition.
I think the defense looks better, more confident than it did last year. I don’t know how significant that improvement is. We’ll have to wait and see more of the signees show up this summer.
That said, Nate Brooks was not beat on any double moves, so we’re going undefeated.