North Texas Daily

Recievers shine in spring game despite uncertainty at quarterback

Recievers shine in spring game despite uncertainty at quarterback

April 08
17:19 2017

With time for just one final play in the first half, freshman quarterback Cade Pearson took the snap from the shotgun. Senior Turner Smiley ran a simple “Go” route and somehow got past the deepest safety and as he did so looked back for the ball.

The ball from Pearson was a little high, but Smiley brought it down and took it to the house to close out the half. The Green team carried that momentum into the second half and won the annual spring game 44-34.

Smiley ended the game with four receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown in a game where he had four quarterbacks rotating behind center.

“Turner’s had a great camp,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “He’s catching the ball more consistently, it’s becoming more natural to him. He had a really good day.”

Fellow wideout Rico Bussey got busy as well, totaling eight receptions for 146 yards and had a 68-yard touchdown where he juked out two defenders and outran the rest.

The quarterback play was fairly even throughout the game between the three that played significant time. Sophomore Mason Fine, junior Quinn Shanbour and Pearson all had completion percentages of at lesat 56.

Fine threw the sole interception and the fewest yards while also throwing the most attempts of the trio.

“It shows we have a lot of people that can play at the QB position,” Smiley said. “[We have] three or four guys that can play at a D1 level and that shows when they’re on the field.”

Initially, the defense stole the show. Leading 23-12 early in a uniquely scored game, the defense constantly forced the offense into long down and distance situations. The White team totaled five sacks, an interception, a fumble, and three 3-and-outs in the first half.

The second half showed a more dialed-in offense and short route patterns sliced up the soft coverage in the defense. The offense avoided committing a turnover after the break.

“Some of it’s players [and] coaches having to get in rhythm,” Littrell said. “There were a couple nice series where they got [the defense] on their heels,and we weren’t in too many long yard situations.”

The rushing game was slowed by the defense and the Green team averaged just 3.46 yards per carry on 39 carries.

One of the players who had a visible impact on the game for the defense was junior linebacker Brandon Garner. Garner had nine tackles, four pass breakups, and forced the lone fumble in the game.

“It was very competitive, we wanted to get after it,” Garner said. “[Both sides] know they have to bring it or someone’s going to get yelled at.”

While the offense ended up winning, the result in a game where the score was at one point 4-2 does not matter to the coaching staff.

Littrell and his staff displayed what they have been working on for the past 15 practices, but according to them, they have a long way to go.

“Overall there were some individuals who did some good things,” Littrell said. “We have to continue to grow and by fall camp we just need to be more consistent overall.”

Featured Image: Freshman quarterback Mitch Cason fires a pass during a scrimmage on Apr. 8. Sara Carpenter

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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