North Texas Daily

Mean Green football knocks off rust in spring practice

Mean Green football knocks off rust in spring practice

Sophomore defensive back Kenny Buyers and junior defensive back James Jones team up to take down a UNLV ball carrier. Photo by Harris Buchanan, Staff Photographer.

Mean Green football knocks off rust in spring practice
March 20
01:56 2014

Jordan Ottaway // Staff Writer

With a little more than five months before the Aug. 30 season opener, the Mean Green football team hustled on to the practice field Tuesday afternoon to have its first spring practice.

“It felt really good to get back out there on the field with pads on with everyone out there together,” senior linebacker Derek Akunne said.

With a key players leaving after this past season, the coaching staff has its work cut out to find out how to fill those holes.

“We have a lot of new guys that we need to find out if they are capable of taking over,” defensive coordinator John Skladany said.

Practice didn’t go as well as the coaches had hoped. Throughout practice they were yelling for players to be more aggressive, faster and more attentive to what was going on around them.

Head coach Dan McCarney described it as watching a pillow fight during one of the drills because his players weren’t being aggressive enough.

“For whatever reason there wasn’t the energy and the spark that I’m used to,” McCarney said. “It was sporadic, it was hit and miss. I didn’t like it.”

While getting back to playing with the intensity that led UNT to its first bowl victory in 11 years is a priority, getting into shape is a key that was apparent with the fast-paced practice.

“We built this program on physicality,” McCarney said. “You can stand there and shut your eyes and hear a good football play.”

With new guys having to step up, McCarney wants to teach them how to be more aggressive and become better ball carriers and tacklers.

Today was also the first full pad practice for the quarterbacks. McCarney and offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Mike Canales will go over plenty of practice tape to make their choice.

“It’s going to be a long evaluation,” McCarney said. “It might take until game week to make a final decision.”

Even though today’s practice might not have gone as well as the coaches would have liked, the players still have that inner drive to win and have a repeat of last season.

“They want to win. They know what it feels like to win,” Skladany said. “We have the same attitude as last year, and I feel that we are on the right track.”

McCarney also said he sees practice as a way to find the next group of leaders. He feels like the coaches are leading now, but soon that will be handed down to the players and the team will start to re-build.

Feature photo: Sophomore defensive back Kenny Buyers and junior defensive back James Jones team up to take down a University of Nevada, Las Vegas  ball carrier. Ntdaily file photo.

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