North Texas held its first scrimmage of spring practice this morning at the Darrell R. Dickey Football Practice Facility, where the Mean Green’s offense held the edge early before their defense responded late.
Tight end Kelvin Smith made a great touchdown grab over the middle for a 20-yard strike from backup quarterback Quinn Shanbour. Jalen Guyton later broke free for an 80-yard touchdown on a pass from Mitch Cason.
UNT’s first-team offense also moved the ball effectively at times early behind starter Mason Fine. The sophomore hit Rico Bussey Jr. for passes of about 40 and 20 yards. He later found Kelvin Smith for a 20-yard completion.
The Mean Green’s defense bounced back late when linebacker E.J. Ejiya intercepted a tipped pass from Shanbour. Cornerback Nate Brooks capped the scrimmage by picking off a pass from Fine.
A couple of impressions from the proceedings …
– UNT’s quarterback pecking order looks pretty set. Fine continues to play well while facing UNT’s first-team defense. He is healthy, knows the system and isn’t going anywhere.
Shanbour is also playing well this spring. Seth Littrell mentioned it last week. Devlin Isadore isn’t participating in scrimmages, which pretty much ends his chances and Cade Pearson isn’t ready. Spring practice is actually a pretty short affair. UNT now has six of its 15 practices in the books. There isn’t a lot of time left for major changes.
Baring something unforeseen, look for the pecking order to be 1. Fine, 2. Shanbour heading into fall drills.
Shanbour tends to pull the ball down and run with it in scrimmages, which makes him look a little more effective than I think he would be in a live game. He’d get lit up like a Christmas tree if he pulled that maneuver without a red (no contact) jersey on against a Louisiana Tech, an SMU or anyone else, for that matter.
– It looks like the H-back/tight end is going to be a key element in UNT’s offense.
Littrell mentioned heading into spring that UNT would use Smith and its other big tight end types like Caleb Chumley in a variety of ways. The Mean Green showed that look quite a bit in the scrimmage, when UNT lined up with an H-back at times and with a big receiver in the slot at others.
And in other news and observations …
– There were a few high school players and coaches at practice today, including Bee Jay Williamson from Mesquite Horn. UNT has also offered his teammate, wide receiver Maureese Wren. Denton High coach Kevin Atkinson was also in today.
– UNT has a former NFL player working on its strength and conditioning staff. Ty Powell played at Harding, was drafted by the Seahawks and played a few seasons in the NFL. He is looking to get back into the game on the coaching side and is getting a start at UNT.
– Former UNT players Jareid Combs and Chad Davis were at practice today. Both are getting ready for UNT’s pro day on March 29.
– Tyler Wilson, Rico Bussey Jr. and Turner Smiley are rounding into a nice group of wide receivers. Throw in the tight end types UNT is working with, including Smith, and UNT will have a good group.
– Linebacker Brandon Garner made back-to-back nice plays, tackling Christian Hosley for a 5-yard loss and then breaking up a pass intended for Chumley in the end zone.
– Linebacker Calvin Minor had a nice day while working with UNT’s backups.