North Texas Daily

Offense wins spring game but defense shows promise after rough start

Offense wins spring game but defense shows promise after rough start

March 24
17:02 2018

On the opening drive in Saturday afternoon’s spring game at Apogee Stadium,  junior quarterback Mason Fine hit junior Rico Bussey for a 52-yard gain across the middle of the field. A few plays later he found sophomore running back Evan Johnson for a 10-yard score.

The next possession, redshirt senior Quinn Shanbour threw a short pass to redshirt sophomore Keegan Brewer. The Kansas transfer took it 49 yards to the house for a touchdown.

During the fourth series, the offense was held to 4th and 1, but they confidently elected to go for it. Sophomore running back DeAndre Torrey took the handoff up the middle, bounced it outside, and sprinted for a 55-yard score.

Scoring looked easy for the offense.

“I think we came out with a lot of energy and I thought we executed well,” Fine said. “Defense kind’ve had our number all spring so it was good to come out here and kind’ve get the upper hand on them today but I felt like guys came out with the right energy and right mindset.”

Coming out with three touchdowns on four possessions, it looked as though the offense would comfortably control the spring game.

But the defense turned the tables with adjustments and stops in the backfield. The defense compiled a total of 10 tackles for loss and stopped the offense from scoring on 12 of their 17 drives but still lost the game 44-23 to the offense.

“We just got tired of getting beat on deep balls,” sophomore safety Tyreke Davis said. “[We had] a lack of focus in the secondary then we harped a lot on our technique. We just had to step it up late.”

Fine completed 17-of-27 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns, setting the early tone for the offense.

Redshirt senior Ulaiasi Tauaalo was one of the leaders of the defense with eight tackles, one for a loss and Davis also made his presence felt, finishing with five tackles.

Even when the offense made big plays, the defense counteres and made crucial stops when it needed to during the middle quarters and into the fourth.

A 31-yard pass from freshman quarterback Kason Martin to redshirt freshman receiver Greg White, followed by a late hit, gave the offense life, putting them into scoring position inside the 20-yard-line.

Then converted safety, freshman Tre Siggers came off a blitz from the left side and made a tackle for a six-yard loss. The offense was unable to come back from that as they were held to fourth down and a missed field goal.

The defense forced the offense to go eight straight possessions without any points before a play fake by Fine caught the defense off guard, enabling Jalen Guyton to get wide open for a 70-yard score. Guyton finished the day with eight receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown.

“I’m really positive about this spring,” Guyton said. “This is my second [spring] practice now and just comparing them, I think we’re light years ahead of where we were last year and we’re headed in the right direction.”

The offense may have won the game but there were positive takeaways from both sides while head coach Seth Littrell accomplished his goal of getting everyone repetitions in a game setting in front of the fans and families in attendance.

“At times execution on both sides got sloppy,” Littrell said. “We probably missed too many tackles and gave up a couple of third down and longs. But overall, it was good execution on different parts of the day and we got a lot of guys reps and a lot of them made plays offensively and defensively.”

Featured image: North Texas redshirt junior Loren Easly runs the ball in a spring scrimmage on Mar. 24 at Apogee Stadium. Sara Carpenter

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Deondre Jones

Deondre Jones

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