North Texas Daily

Quick Hits: Five observations from the football spring game

Quick Hits: Five observations from the football spring game

Senior quarterback Alec Morris (5) scrambles away from defensive pressure in the North Texas Spring Football Game. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Quick Hits: Five observations from the football spring game
April 23
16:40 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceWaddell15

On Saturday, April 23, the North Texas football team took the field for its annual spring game. Here are five observations from the contest.

New quarterbacks show improvement

Graduate quarterback Alec Morris showed his value in his first appearance at Apogee Stadium, proving he is a clear upgrade from anyone the Mean Green lined up under center in 2015. Morris made the most of his staunch 6-3, 233-pound frame and was not afraid to stand in the pocket and find the open man. His arm strength, while not elite, is good enough to get the job done. Morris was not fazed when his number was called to throw the ball downfield, and had only one hiccup on the day, an interception that came when he airmailed a pass to the opposite side of the field.

Junior Quinn Shanbour also had a nice game and looked comfortable making the most of the throws in the offense’s arsenal. The highlight of his day was a 30-yard missile over the middle of the field that sailed behind the defensive back’s helmet and right into the receiver’s hands for a touchdown.

Defensive line shines, secondary struggles

North Texas was bad in a lot of areas in 2015, but defense was an area that was especially anemic. Opposing offenses, including Football Championship Subdivision Portland State University, gashed the Mean Green defense on several occasions. However, the defense showed signs of life on Saturday. One bright spot was the defensive line, which was able to clog up running lanes and harass several of the quarterbacks Littrell rolled out. Unfortunately, the secondary looked lost, especially on crossing routes and back-shoulder fades. Defensive backs got bumped off the line of scrimmage too many times and failed to recover, allowing receivers to gain at least a step on them.

Sophomore defensive end Jareid Combs (7) tries to get around the offensive line for a sack against the green team during the spring game. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Sophomore defensive end Jareid Combs (7) tries to get around the offensive line for a sack against the green team during the spring game. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Littrell follows through on promise to “Tee it high and let it fly”

Head coach Seth Littrell promised an up-tempo offense that was not afraid to air it out when he was hired, and he delivered on his pledge Saturday. In stark contrast to former head coach Dan McCarney, Littrell frequently called quick screen plays, four verticals and halfback draws to keep the defense on its heels. The quarterbacks distributed the ball equally and each one, particularly Morris, did a thorough job of progressing through his reads to avoid turning the ball over. At times, the high-octane attack appeared to leave the defense gassed, which created ample scoring opportunities. The offense never got complacent and kept attacking until the final whistle.

Offensive line looks shaky

North Texas knew coming into this season it was losing key pieces on its offensive line, and that was apparent on Saturday. With Michael Banogu having graduated and senior offensive lineman Kaydon Kirby no longer with the team, the line seemed a bit overmatched, especially early on. Morris was often forced to scramble outside the pocket and make plays with his feet, although he looked decent maneuvering his way out of trouble. But for the majority of the scrimmage, the defensive front dominated, imposing its will on the offensive line while wreaking havoc in the backfield.

Redshirt junior quarterback Quinn Shanbour (19) barks out orders at the line of scrimmage in the North Texas Spring Football  Game. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Redshirt junior quarterback Quinn Shanbour (19) barks out orders at the line of scrimmage in the North Texas Spring Football Game. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

What it all means

Even though Littrell likely will not name an official starter until sometime in August, it is clear Morris is North Texas’ No. 1 guy. Along with taking the majority of the snaps, he has the size, intangibles and is the most likely candidate to run Littrell’s pass-oriented offense. The wide receivers burned a young secondary and made more than a few plays, but still had a few dropped balls and routes that were not as crisp as they should have been. Sophomore receiver Tee Goree hauled in the most passes of the group and repeatedly torched sophomore defensive back Nate Brooks. Junior running back Jeffrey Wilson was quiet, partially because he had no holes to run through. If the offensive line can improve before opening day, Wilson is poised to have a big year if he stays healthy. The defense looked inept at times, but the defensive line put in good work in the trenches and was able to pressure Morris and company.

Featured Image: Senior quarterback Alec Morris (5) scrambles away from defensive pressure in the North Texas Spring Football Game. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

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