UNT made a key move today — both in terms of its immediate future and its long-term plans.
Dajon Williams is in at quarterback for the Mean Green.
The story of how UNT got here in terms of the last couple of months is one we went into a little on the blog today.
UNT head coach Dan McCarney pulled the curtain back a bit and talked about Williams’ issues off the field over the last few months — not coming into camp ready to go, missing both major fall scrimmages and the fact he is now a father.
We hinted at some of those issues on the blog for the last several months, saying that Williams wasn’t ready and wasn’t in the race.
I’m not going to second guess McCarney or offensive coordinator Mike Canales on this one. UNT followed what seems like a reasonable course of action.
UNT signed a JC quarterback it has a history with in Josh Greer when it headed into the offseason knowing Williams might not be ready. It also signed an mid-term high school player in Connor Means and hung on to backup Andrew McNulty.
It didn’t work out with Greer, at least not yet.
What is a whole lot more interesting at this point is what going to Williams means for UNT’s immediate future.
UNT fans are giddy, and justifiably so. Many wanted to see Williams in there from Day 1 this year, and even last year, as ill-advised a plan that would have been.
What one has to wonder at this point is if UNT isn’t going to pay a bit of a price because of the way this all played out.
Bottom line — Williams missed pretty much the entire offseason, two key scrimmages in the fall and — one would have to assume — received minimal reps through a big portion of fall practice. I watched most of the spring and he didn’t get a ton of reps then.
Williams is talented. He better be, because he is going to have to ride that talent while he gets a month-long crash course in being a starting quarterback on the college level while UNT rebuilds its entire offense around his skill set before its next conference game at UAB.
UNT has been a pocket team all year long, but will now want to put a lot of the quarterback run game back in. Carlos Harris said he and the rest of UNT’s receivers have some feel for Williams, but will have to build rapport with him over time.
It can be done, but there are going to be some growing pains along the way.
UNT is going to have to hope it can navigate those growing pains smoothly because at this point the margin for error has been reduced at least a little.
UNT wasn’t going to beat Texas in Austin, but the Mean Green did bounce back for a terrific win over SMU. Louisiana Tech is starting to look like a bowl team this year after beating both Louisiana-Lafayette and UNT, a pair of bowl teams from last season.
At 1-2 and 0-1 in league play, UNT has to start winning in a hurry while developing a quarterback who has spent the better part of the last year on the shelf. Injuries kept Williams out of practice for much of last season’s drills after Thompson beat him out. A host of other issues led to him getting minimal reps during practice since the beginning of spring.
While there is nothing UNT could have done about the situation, it does put the McCarney, Canales and Williams behind the eight ball a bit.
Williams looked capable of handling that situation last week with the pressure all but off late in a loss to Louisiana Tech. What will be interesting to see is how he handles it when the heat is on in Conference USA play and he has to execute against a team geared up to slow him down while working in the confines of an offense.
If there is anything we know about McCarney it’s that he wants guys who can execute within a system.
The challenge for UNT now is building one that will fit Williams and helping him execute within its confines.
There isn’t a lot of time for UNT to head down that road — not like there would have been back at the beginning of spring practice.