There has been a lot of talk about quarterback play over the last few weeks, and justifiably so in a season UNT must replace one of the better ones in recent Mean Green history.
I bring it up because Dan McCarney talked a little bit about what he is looking for in a new starting quarterback this week during his annual State of the Green Two-A-Days Edition Address.
“Our system, our identity and how we do it is to take care of the football on offense first. You have heard me say it before — a punt is a hell of a lot better than a turnover. We have a really good punter and good special teams. Don’t do something stupid because you think you are going to make a Dan Marino play or be Fran Tarkenton. But along the way, we don’t need stiff back or there or a statue, a guy who can hand it off and make a couple of throws. We are looking for guys who can make plays and have dynamic athleticism to help us win games. That is what we are looking for. Within our system and identity, take care of the football. They will hear it until they go to bed at night and hear it when they get up in the morning – take care of the football. You have an experienced offensive line that can take care of the quarterback. Take care of the football. That is where it begins.”
So basically, McCarney values quarterbacks who take care of the ball.
It’s old school philosophy and one that worked for UNT last year when Derek Thompson led the Mean Green to a win in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Make no mistake, UNT will miss Thompson this year.
I know that’s an opinion not everyone shares, but let’s think about this. UNT’s offense is a run-first system that asks quarterbacks to take care of the ball and be accurate. Thompson did that for the most part, took advantage of his opportunities and pretty much secured his spot in the UNT Hall of Fame in the process.
Quick aside/rant — UNT isn’t exactly Texas or Oklahoma in terms of its football history, especially not when it comes to quarterbacks. Thompson ranks among the best players UNT has had statistically — ever. One can make the argument that he was never an elite player on the Sun Belt or C-USA level or a first-team all-conference selection. When you start judging players in a historical context, you have to judge them against their peers at the school at which they played. Thompson stacks up as a great player in UNT history. No amount of mincing stats is going to change that or the fact he was the MVP of one of three bowl wins in the entire history of the program. It would be different if he played at Texas and we were comparing him to Vince Young and Colt McCoy. He didn’t and we aren’t.
So, bottom line, what does what McCarney said tell us about UNT’s quarterback race this year?
Don’t expect UNT to look for the biggest playmaker/risk-taker/Johnny Football type. UNT will go with the guy who can take care of the football (did we mention that?) and operate in a conservative system.
UNT had success with a quarterback who fit that mold last year. Whoever fits it best this year is the guy we will see on Saturdays.