North Texas Daily

Quarterbacks fight for starting job in spring

Quarterbacks fight for starting job in spring

Quarterbacks fight for starting job in spring
April 08
23:38 2015

Reece Waddell / Staff Writer

It’s only March, but the Mean Green football team is on the field practicing as if there were a game this Saturday. Behind the line of players watching the end of a practice scrimmage stood seven guys wearing red jerseys huddled together, dissecting the play of the quarterback on the field.

While most teams carry three to four quarterbacks, North Texas has eight quarterbacks on the roster for the spring.

Last season, North Texas was lacking on the offensive side of the ball, ranking 11th in Conference USA in total offense.  It was a problem that caused head coach Dan McCarney to cycle through three different quarterbacks over the course of the season.

Despite the success by the quarterbacks in practice, McCarney said the starting job is still up for grabs and that it is a completely open competition.

“Every position on this team is open,” McCarney said. “There’s no phoniness about this team. You better bring your A-game every time you step onto this field, or you won’t have a spot.”

Senior quarterback Andrew McNulty, who started the last three games of the season last year, seems to be the favorite to get the starting job again this year, as he took the majority of first team reps. McNulty said even though some people see him as the top choice, he knows he must perform well in practice to ultimately win the starting job.

“Every single day we push each other.” McNulty said. “Having all these guys on the roster, it just makes everyone work a little bit harder. I know there are guys that can take my job if I don’t step up.”

Sophomore quarterback Dajon Williams, who started three games for North Texas last season, said having so many quarterbacks on the roster forces everyone to be more focused and play at a higher level.

“It really makes me want to work hard,” Williams said. “I come out here every day and fight and lay it all on the line. We all do.”

In 12 games last season, North Texas had the same amount of passing touchdowns, with 13, as they did interceptions. It is a statistic McCarney said must change. He added last year’s offensive woes shouldn’t be blamed solely on the quarterback.

“Everybody is quick to point out the quarterback when the offense isn’t doing well,” McCarney said. “We weren’t good enough. We weren’t consistent enough. We didn’t have enough receivers step up and make plays and our running backs didn’t play well. It was a combination of things, not just the quarterback.”

When a team is in a third-down situation, it is typically forced to throw the ball. However, the Mean Green actually picked up more first downs running the ball with 106 than passing it with 86. Even more curious, North Texas had more rushing attempts on the year at 472 than passing attempts at 331. McCarney said the scheme wasn’t the issue and therefore, the coaching staff wasn’t to blame.

“It wasn’t a bad offensive scheme, because if it was, the coaches and I would be fired,” McCarney said. “It was a combination of things, but mainly the offense just didn’t step up and make enough plays.”

McNulty said while there were a number of things he worked on this offseason, he tried to improve on  small facets.

“I mainly worked on the little things, the intangibles,” McNulty said. “I got my body weight up. I got stronger. My arm strength improved. I just tried to work on lots of different things.”

Despite many people seeing McNulty as the front-runner to take the starting job in the fall, sophomore defensive lineman Tillman Jackson said redshirt freshman Connor Means has also shown some promise.

“A lot of people are overlooking   Means. I think he’s a quarterback that has both dimensions,” Jackson said. “He can run, and man, he throws a real pretty ball. But the starter, Andrew McNulty, I mean, he gets the job done.”

After such a down season last year, the Mean Green will look to bounce back come in the spring game at 2 p.m. April 18. McCarney said the team has a lot to work on between now and the first game in September, but he is confident the team can make the necessary adjustments.

“We need to be more consistent, more dynamic. We just need to come out every day and compete,” McCarney said.

Featured Image: Four of the Mean Green quarterbacks prepare to take part in a throwing drill at a spring practice. Photo by Ryan Vance – Senior Staff Photographer

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