UNT went through its annual spring game today over at Apogee Stadium, where the White edged the Green 35-31 in front of 5,235.
As with any spring game, there were good signs and things that UNT probably wished would have gone differently (better).
The big battle of the spring was at quarterback. Coach Dan McCarney and offensive coordinator Mike Canales both said UNT came out of the spring without a starter.
Part of what McCarney had to say will be a talker:
“We have a really good example of how we can win last year with Derek Thompson, who not a lot of people said positive things about. All he did was lead us to a bowl championship. This time last year he didn’t look like Fran Tarkenton or Brett Favre. I want all these guys to keep the edge, never be satisfied and find a way to go have a really good season.”
Interpretation: UNT has a couple of guys who looked solid in the spring in Josh Greer and Andrew McNulty, but neither set the world on fire. UNT is hoping one can be what Thompson was last year, a good manager of the offense who can make some plays throwing the ball, and — more importantly — not lose games. Thompson was perfect at that, and McCarney’s right. Thompson didn’t get as much credit as he deserved.
Hoping for a gunslinger? Don’t count on it.
I wrote mostly about Greer in tomorrow’s paper. My personal take is that Greer has a higher ceiling, but McNulty has the edge in experience. The fact that Greer has only been around since December and is right there with McNulty speaks of how far Greer has come in a short time.
What surprised me a little was that both McCarney and Canales said it was important to get Dajon Williams back from an ankle injury and into the race. Both talked about how much talent he has.
I had the feeling the door was closed on Williams for 2014, especially after he missed some time late in the spring with a sprained ankle. There are only a few weeks of practice in the fall before UNT opens at Texas in late August. I have a hard time seeing UNT giving meaningful snaps to three players again. Could it be a matter of keeping Williams motivated? Could UNT change course at this point?
It’s something to watch, that’s for sure.
Another factor to consider is that Connor Means looked good with the White team (second, fourth teamers). That could be a positive sign for the future.
Now for the bad news …
UNT’s offense didn’t exactly light it up against a defense made up of backups from a team that lost six of the seven members of its front seven. I’m not going to read too much into it, but the Mean Green is going to be a work in progress without Thompson … and Brelan Chancellor … and Brandin Byrd … and you get my point.
McCarney said this is the first time in his coaching carer the backups battled the starters and never let them back in the game. Granted, the backups started out up 21-0, but that is pretty telling comment. It’t not like McCarney is new to this.
And back to the good news …
Part of the reason UNT didn’t have a great day offensively is that the Mean Green appears to have some good young defensive players.
McCarney said linebacker Sed Ellis is the real deal. He looked the part while returning a fumble 57 yards for a touchdown.
Ellis just needs to put on weight, which is something he should have a chance to do over the summer.
Defensive end Jarrian Roberts, defensive tackle Sid Moore and linebacker Calvin Minor also showed a ton of potential, as they have throughout the spring.
And since I know people would love to see them, here are the stats that were passed out by UNT after the game:
Antoinne Jimmerson 9 carries, 96 yards, 2 TDs, long 54
Mark Lewis 8 carries, 34 yards, 1 TD, long 24
Carlos Harris 1 carry, 7 yards
Josh Greer 3 carries, minus 14 yards
Andrew McNulty four carries, minus 25 yards
Andrew McNulty 15-for-24, 0 Ints, 217 yards, 1 TD
Josh Greer 10-for-16, 0 Ints, 152 yards, 0 TD
Carlos Harris 9 catches, 86 yards, 1 TD
Darius Terrell 3 catches, 74 yards
Darvin Kidsy 5 catches, 60 yards
Jarrod Lynn 1 catch, 58 yards
Andrew Tucker 2 catches, 57 yards
Antoinne Jimmerson 2 catches, 12 yards
Roderick Lancaster 1 catch, 11 yards
Clayton Adams 1 catch, 8 yards
Mark Lewis 1 catch, 3 yards
Erick Evans 5 carries, 51 yards
Jamaine Wilhite 8 carries, 38 yards
Andrew Tucker 10 carries, 29 yards
Josh Cousins 1 carry, 2 yards
Connor Means 7 carries, minus 1 yard
Connor Means 9-for-15, 0 Ints, 125 yards, 1 TD
Josh Cousins 1-for-2, 0 Ints, 8 yards, 0 TDs
Turner Smiley 4 catches, 42 yards
John Chelf 3 catches, 37 yards
Jones 1 catch, 33 yards
Willie Hubbard 1 catch, 13 yards
Mike Marshall 1 catch, 8 yards