A few people have e-mailed me over the last day or so to ask about UNT’s quarterback situation coming out of the final scrimmage of fall practice.
First off, UNT’s scrimmages are closed to the media, which means no stats.
Closed means closed.
What we have to go on is what UNT’s coaches and players had to say, which is this case was … McCarney praises Thompson’s play after the workout.
The more I have talked to UNT’s assistants and players, the more I have become convinced that Thompson is in position to at least begin the season as UNT’s starter.
Here are my thoughts on each player in the race:
Thompson – I sat and watched all of spring practice and thought all along that Thompson was the best quarterback out there. He threw the ball well, looked more mobile than he had in the past and he had a grasp of the offense. The coaching staff has brought in a host of players to compete with Thompson during his career and he is still sitting there, seemingly as the top quarterback in camp.
UNT’s staff feels like Thompson has improved since the end of last season. I thought it was telling when I asked one UNT starter about the quarterback competition recently and he immediately said that Thompson is looking good and that if UNT had to turn to Andrew McNulty, the players would be comfortable with him as well.
Thompson struggled at times last season and completed only 57.7 percent of his passes, but he did rank sixth in the Sun Belt with an average of 219.8 passing yards a game.
One also has to keep in mind that UNT’s coaches are on record saying that the Mean Green’s wide receivers were a problem spot last year. Thompson wasn’t throwing to a cast of all-stars.
The bottom line is Thompson has been on notice since last season that he needs to continue to improve. He had the chance to make a statement in the final scrimmage of the fall and appears to have done just that.
Andrew McNulty — McNulty had a monster spring game, throwing for 214 yards while playing with both the starters and second-teams. He’s been something of a forgotten factor in the quarterback race since, especially after missing all of last season. He has shown the ability to run the ball and some potential as a passer. He played well in the spring and from what has been said, has continued to look solid in fall practice. From what I can tell, he just hasn’t made a big enough move to bump out Thompson.
Brock Berglund — I have asked about Berglund on multiple occasions and have consistently been told the same story. He has all the tools, the arm, the speed and the size, which is why he was such a big-time recruit. The issue is that he has yet to harness that potential within the system. Everyone loves it when a quarterback can turn a broken play into a big play. Berglund showed that kind of potential on the scout team last year. But can he sit in the pocket and deliver the ball consistently? Can he read a defense and put UNT in the right spots to be successful? Can he methodically move a team down the field and make the routine plays and the routine throws? Can he keep his eyes down the field and pick out receivers instead of bailing the pocket early? Right now, Berglund is struggling to do that from what I’ve been told. I wondered about that issue following the little action Berglund saw during spring practice, when it seemed like a high percentage of the plays he was in there broke down and turned into a sandlot affair. He was too quick to abandon a play and didn’t keep his eyes downfield on receivers. Missing spring practice was not good for Berglund. He could very well be the future at quarterback for UNT. It just looks like that future may be a little farther down the line. UNT fans have fallen in love with his athletic ability and potential, but there is more to being a quarterback.
Dajon Williams – In a sense, Williams is a lot like Berglund in that he has a ton of upside and potential. He has size, a good arm and speed. McCarney talked about how he is in the race for the starting quarterback job. The problem is he is inexperienced and may need some time. One UNT starter told me that Williams is very raw and will be ready in a year. McCarney said he will not redshirt Williams. I would expect that to depend largely on Thompson’s performance. If Thompson starts, plays well and hangs onto the job, would UNT burn his redshirt? Another factor to consider is that UNT might want a change-of-pace quarterback and McCarney said he could use multiple quarterbacks this year. Williams could be a Wildcat-type player to start out. UNT could use Brelan Chancellor in that role, but he’s a smaller guy coming off a season cut short by injury. UNT could ease Williams into a role by going that route.
It’s been an interesting journey, one that is far from over, but that is my take on how UNT got to where it is now.
One comment McCarney made before the scrimmage stuck with me.
“We are watching, evaluating, charting and trying to get a feel not only with numerical performance, but also a feel of who leads, who moves the chains and whom the team follows,” McCarney said.
McCarney said after the scrimmage that Thompson is likely that player.