North Texas Daily

Roundtable: spring football analysis

Roundtable: spring football analysis

April 07
20:25 2015

Editor’s Note: The North Texas Daily sports staff broke down the biggest story lines in football spring practice. Look for more roundtables such as this one on various sports throughout the semester.

Alex Lessard / Staff Writer

With spring practice in full swing, the Mean Green football team will once again look to replace a strong senior class from this past season, including linebacker Derek Akunne and offensive linemen Cyril Lemon.

Head coach Dan McCarney’s 2013 squad put up a stellar season mainly due to senior leadership at key positions. Quarterback Derek Thompson, wide receiver Brelan Chancellor, linebacker Zach Orr and safety Marcus Trice all moved on to play at training camps across the NFL. While North Texas had solid replacements in 2014 at a lot of spots, the need for a competent quarterback was glaring. Andrew McNulty, Josh Greer and Dajon Williams combined to complete 54.7% of passes for 13 TDs and 13 INTs, not nearly as consistent as McCarney and company had hoped for.

North Texas heads into its spring game on April 18 with eight quarterbacks on the roster in hope that one of them will show major improvement from this past season’s performance. McCarney recently announced that the race has been narrowed down to four, adding redshirt freshman Connor Means to the trio of starters from this past season. The fact that Means has played himself into the competition proves that he is a dark horse to potentially start as early as week one. However, an offensive line filled with new faces will make things even more difficult for quarterbacks to feel comfortable early in the season.

Look for experienced players on both sides of the ball to take on an increased leadership role in practice leading up to the fall. Based on quarterback play, a new offensive line and implementing a new defensive scheme under coordinator Chris Cosh, the Mean Green will have a hard time gelling early on in the season. Nevertheless, plugging in fresh faces among players and coaches certainly isn’t a bad route to take coming off a 4-8 season.

Reece Waddell / Staff Writer

Spring is here and we all know what that means. The Mean Green football team gets back to work. North Texas has been practicing in preparation for the annual Spring Football game, which will take place April 18th at Apogee Stadium, where fans will get their first look at the team.

Last season, the quarterback situation was dreadful. The team actually ran the ball more than it threw it, a feat that in today’s game is nothing short of an anomaly. If the Mean Green want to improve upon last season and get back to the day’s when they won the Heart of Dallas Bowl, the quarterbacks will have to step up. It will be interesting to see who McCarney uses after he insisted the starting job was up for grabs. Many in the media believe McNulty to be the front runner, but a lot of hype has surrounded Means. I would believe whoever performs the best in this game will have a clear advantage once the August practices come rolling around

The Mean Green also has a new defensive coordinator. Chris Cosh took over the role after John Skladany, a long-time friend and colleague of McCarney, retired last year. Even when the offense was poor, the defense did its best to step up. However, along with losing Skladany, the defense also loses Akunne, who led North Texas in tackles at 108, to graduation.

Cosh has already started implementing a new defensive system, and it will be interesting to see how the players respond. Sophomore defensive lineman Tillman Jackson, who showed flashes of brilliance during his freshman year, is looking to bounce back from injuries after missing four games last year. Despite losing Akunne, the defense will still return experience players like defensive back Kenny Buyers and defensive end Chad Polk. North Texas will need every man healthy and ready to go come September.

Torie Mosley / Intern Writer

The football team’s most evident issue, position-wise, is the quarterback position. North Texas started three different quarterbacks during the season last year.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Canales has eight different quarterbacks to work with at the moment on the active roster. With the season just a few months away, Canales is using the spring practices and workouts to improve each quarterback fighting for the top spot.

Last year alone, Canales went through three quarterbacks before finding one in McNulty who could complete 50 percent of his passes. McNulty also passed for 1,300 yards to go along with six touchdowns and seven interceptions.

McNulty is atop the quarterback depth chart right now, and looks like the favorite to start when North Texas travels to Southern Methodist University for its season opener. Once the fall starts, DeMarcus Smith, a junior college transfer from Butler College, should enter the fold as well. Smith is ineligible for spring practices, but should be ready to go in the fall and maybe compete for a spot high in the depth chart.

The more good days McNulty has in the spring, the more likely Mean Green fans will see the senior open the season as the starting quarterback. It’s unlikely that Smith can come in and steal the job right away without any spring reps under his belt, but Greer, Williams and Means could very well put some pressure on McNulty. Still, expect to see McNulty behind center against SMU.

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