UNT closed out its 2014 Spring Campaign in front of nice crowd of 5000+ people on Saturday afternoon. The annual Green-White scrimmage gave fans one last chance to see the Mean Green in action before the season opener August 30th at Texas. It certainly was a great atmosphere plenty of fans, students and tailgating. You could feel still feel the momentum carrying over from the great 2013 campaign.
Thoughts on the Game and Spring Practice:
1. QB Battle – Andrew McNulty and Josh Greer rotated series with the ones. Both guys had their moments, but neither did enough to grab the starting job. This battle is going to go deep into fall camp. With McNulty you know what you’re getting. He is a tough, smart, and hard working kid. He is not going to blow you away with athleticism or arm strength. To put it simply he is the bus driver type. If he gets the nod expect to see more spread formations with short quick throws. It won’t be an offense geared towards getting the ball down the field. To be honest that’s okay. UNT has enough weapons on offense to take a 5 yard throw and turn it into a 50 yard reception. Josh Greer is much like McNulty except that he has a much livelier arm and a more deliberate delivery. I would categorize it as a wind up. Greer can really sling the ball accurately when he sits in the pocket. You could tell Saturday that he still isn’t totally confident in running the offense yet, because there were a couple of times when he could stayed in the pocket yet chose to scramble out and that got him in trouble. If Greer wins the battle in fall camp expect to see an offense much similar to last year. Dajon Williams didn’t get to play because of a sprained ankle. He is not out of the battle for the starting job, but he has some ground to make up. He is the most gifted athletically out of the QBs, but is lacking in the consistency department. Have to give a shout out to Connor Means. He played really well on Saturday. You can see that he is going to be a good player down the road. He needs to work on his arm strength and delivery. Connor is 6’4, but his release is a little bit too low. Still though you can see the potential.
2. Playmakers (WR/RB/TE) – Yes UNT is replacing some very productive guys on offense, but they have got the guys to replace the departing seniors. They may not have one guy to replace Brelan Chancellor, but between Carlos Harris, Darvin Kidsy, and Darius Terrell I’m sure they can replace the production. In fact I believe this will be one of UNT’s deepest teams ever at the WR position. Those 3 guys as I just mentioned to go along with guys like John Chelf, Turner Smiley, Marcus Smith, and all the incoming freshman makes you take a step back and say “Wow”. You just hope that UNT finds the right the QB to just get the ball in the hands of these guys. That’s just the WR position. The RB position may also be the deepest its ever been at UNT. Getting carries amongst that group (Jimmerson, Lewis, Pegram, Rollins, Evans, and Ivery) is going to be tough. When you look at that group you have a little of everything. You have guys with speed, power, and shiftiness. Whoever the QB is should have no problems handing the ball off to the RB’s.
3. Offensive Line – Struggled at times with the pass rush, but solid in the run blocking department. No worries with this group as of now.
4. Defensive Line Depth – Coming out of spring I feel a little bit better about the defensive line than I did going in. One thing that I believe they can do is get after the passer. Jarrian Roberts, Daryl Mason, Chad Polk, Sid Moore, and Alex Lincoln all showed good skills on Saturday. Roberts had a really impressive day, and will play a huge role next year. The defensive line is going to a bit undersized, but they have really good speed and athleticism. If they could find one guy who could just be a space eater like Mr. Abbe, well they will be all right.
5. Linebackers – This group is going to be fun to watch again this year. Akunne is solid and is poised to have a great year. The rest of the guys are young fast, athletic, and can hit. Fred Scott started off the day at MLB and impressed me. Sed Ellis and Calvin Minor flashed their athleticism. Jamal Marshall is fun to watch. I also thought Anthony Wallace and A.J. Smith made a few nice plays.
6. Secondary – Zac Whitfield had a great day except for the dropped pick six, but hey that’s why he plays defense. This group got to see a lot of young guys get playing time and reps, with injuries keeping some starters out. There were a few missed assignments on Saturday, but overall I thought they played okay.
You can’t put a lot stock in what you see in a spring game. It’s more about looking at the potential than the end product. A lot can change between now and August 30th. The potential is there to have a really good year, but a lot of things have to come together again. Most importantly UNT needs to find a QB capable of running the show. It’s my personal belief that there will be enough talent at the skill positions that the QB doesn’t need to be a great player. The skill position guys have the ability to make whoever wins the QB job look really good. Coach Mac talks about moving the chains and not turning the ball over. I’m sure he believes that he has a good enough defense and enough weapons on offense to offset the need for a game changer at the QB position.
One thing that is great to see is the momentum within the program. There is a real and genuine excitement amongst fans, students, and alumni. A lot of people are looking forward to the first two weeks of football. The Texas and SMU games offer UNT’s entire program and fan base a chance to really get things rolling. Can imagine what winning those two games would mean? I do… Dogs and Cats living together MASS HYSTERIA! Until then we wait and sift through the preseason magazines and preseason previews that will most likely say we won’t be as good. Hey you can’t change the programs perception in one season, but you can lay the foundation. Coach Mac has done just that and we are lucky to have such a passionate and great person leading our program.