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I was able to watch UNT's 2nd practice of the 2014 Spring Training from start to finish and am posting some of my thoughts. I will also be posting some pictures I took throughout the evening and tomorrow. These are the initial thoughts that stick out, I will answer questions that are posted and may post a few other things I saw and learned later on.

First off -- unbelievably nice weather today. The team used the practice fields and for the first time I can remember in a long time the wind turbines sat still.

It was a shorts and helmets type of practice as Coach Mac and the assistants are working their way towards the first full pad scrimmage which I anticipate will begin next week. Don't let the shorts and helmets thing fool you though, it is very physical and there was at least one minor injury directly from contact so it's not like a walk in the park. Keep in mind, this was just one day and as such all of these opinions should be tempered as such... I don't dispute a bit of the opinions shared by Mr. Silver Eagle or the other generous contributors from the 1st scrimmage. These are just my impressions from today and they can and will surely change as we move deeper into this Spring schedule.

Quarterbacks

I was extremely impressed with Dajon Williams today in particular. I really like the depth and players behind Williams (who ran with the first team mostly today) as well but more on that later. Williams throws a beautiful pass, has a nice quick release and accuracy in the longer range passes. He made a picture perfect pass to Darvin Kidsy on a deep sideline pattern that was the offensive play of the day, about a 55 yard touchdown that Kidsey took in stride. He seems to excel in the pressure situations and as one person shared with me has "ice water in his veins...

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Williams stands every bit of 6-4, but is extremely lean. I don't know if he has a body type that will ever become Derek Thompson big but he could stand to gain another 10-15 pounds. In terms of his durability, it is certainly a concern, but then again - who really knows until we see him take some big hits which likely won't happen until he steps on the field against the Texas Longhorns.

Williams had the usual snapping miscues which frankly plagued all of the QB's on the day. Part of this was due to UNT giving #77 Travis Ellard a fair amount of snaps at center today and he struggled at times. He also had a couple of sacks trying to find open receivers. I don't put too much stock into this due to the fact they aren't in full pads/contact and that really is an advantage to the defense in my opinion.

I just thought after an entire practice, Williams showed the strongest arm, best accuracy and mobility of the 6 QB's out there.

Now on the others: I also liked what I saw from Josh Greer. He's a little taller than Williams, but not as mobile. He carries more weight --- looks more mature physically. He looks like a D-I QB. He also has a nice arm although I wouldn't say it is as strong as Williams. For a guy that is just joining the team in January he seems to be picking up the offense quickly. Where Williams is a leader more through his own actions, Greer seems to be able to rally the troops a bit more. Greer's size is a plus, he is not big but he seems to have more weight than Williams or Means.

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I also liked what I saw out of Connor Means. He is not up to the standards of Williams or Greer, but you have to keep in mind, he's really still just a high school senior out there! I thought for a really young guy he competed very well. He threw an interception and made some bad decisions at times. I liked his quickness and tempo. You can tell he is a good athlete and will only get better with time. I sense, barring some injuries etc. he will end up being redshirted but having two Spring-training sessions and all the reps he will accumulate plus the off-season program he could be a very nice addition to this program.

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Andy McNulty did not have his best day. In the passing drills, it seemed like his arm was not as strong as some of the new guys. He has some snap miscues which were not all his fault as well as some fumbles during handoffs which is to be expected to happen this early. There is no question that McNulty knows the Chico offense better than any of the other candidates but will that be enough to override the talent differences? I have stated my belief that the odds are McNulty will start against Texas but after today I am starting to wonder if he will be able to overcome the stable of talent UNT has brought in to compete against him.

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The other two guys are Quinn Shanbour a transfer from Oklahoma State and Josh Cousins a transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma. Both have lively arms. I could certainly see that Shanbour has a quick release, actually one of the quickest I have seen. Both are south of 6-foot which is likely why they are walking on to this program. I saw some nice throws in drills. Shanbour has excellent footwork on the cones and seems to be pretty quick on his feet. I didn't get to see as much out of Cousins. Both are as quality a walk-on candidates as this program has seen. I like the fact that both could very likely push the scholarship players. In a way, they are competing with each other. The scary thing for McNulty is I think both of them have better arms and are pretty close to him in height. Neither one got to see any of the live action situations against the defense as that time was reserved for the 4 scholarship players.

Running back

A lot of Jimmy today as Reggie Pegram was working through his knee surgery rehab. Jim Jim had some nice runs but again, in shorts it's really hard to gauge. I though Mark Lewis looked pretty good on some runs. He looks like he is in good shape and should be seeing a lot of time with Pegram out. I was pleasantly surprised to see Rex Rollins out there. He's wearing the red shirt so he won't see contact but man this kid can really fly. He has really gotten bigger and stronger than he was when he first arrived here. Jermaine Wilhite (#21) is a speedy scatback type that they appear to be using on some of the Brelan type of plays.

Wide Receiver

Darvin Kidsey, Darius Terrell and Carlos Harris made the most plays in my estimation today. The tall walk-on Adams from Granbury actually made a couple of nice grabs. Really wasn't able to evaluate this as well today as I was watching the QB's so closely. It was weird not seeing Brelan out there for sure.

Tight End

Marcus Smith caught my eye on a couple of plays and appears to be the guy. Cooper Jones has added some size; I would say he is probably closer to 240 now. One regret is that I didn't get to catch much of Wylie Reinhardt although I did see him and was impressed with his size and physique. Tanner Smith was out there doing his thing and looked good. Probably one of the best looking athletes on the entire roster is Chris Loving. He does not carry an ounce of fat and is every bit of 6-4, 260+. The sad thing is he is wearing a hand cast and is not going to be able to participate in Spring contact. To his credit he was still running around and hustling, running pass patterns etc. He's a guy that could definitely help this program and so it's a shame that he is unable to have contact.

O-Line

Antonio Johnson is alive and well! He was working with the first team and looks great. The main thing that caught my eye with the offensive linemen was big transfer #64 Sam Rice. He is a physical specimen that just stands out in a crowd. Huge guns, no fat, very active... wow this guy could be special. Just wish he could join in this season, but it is nice to have him working with the other linemen. It does appear that they are trying to look at Cyril Lemon at tackle and that is putting big 365 pound Shawn McKinney at guard. Funny story, I actually saw McKinney get angry today, at defensive end Daryl Mason who was pestering him during a scrimmage play. Mason (who is about 100 pounds lighter) didn't seem to press the issue. Travis Ellard was seeing a lot of snaps at center behind Kaydon Kirby so it appears that McKinney will be a guard full time, or at least that is the plan for now.

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D-Line

Starting front four was Daryl Mason and Chad Polk at defensive end although I also saw some Q Brown in that rotation. The tackles were Alex Lincoln and Austin Orr. The guy that stood out to me today was redshirt freshman Sid Moore who was running mostly with the second team. He's not real big, probably 260ish and he's not real tall, probably 6-1 or so, but man this kid is like a heat seeking missile on the field of play. VERY physical. Keep an eye out for him when the pads come on. There is a lot of rotation, but I liked what I saw from defensive end Daryl Mason who might be one of the best athletes on the team this year and looks to be in outstanding shape. I also like the size that Austin Orr is carrying right now. He has to be every bit of 280 and it is not fat. Another guy who caught my eye was Jerrian Roberts who showed some good speed from the outside rush.

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Linebackers

This group is returning all-conference player Derek Akunne, and he looked great today. I spent a fair amount of time watching Oregon transfer Anthony Wallace and liked what I saw. He is bigger than Zach Orr, but I don't know if he is as quick. It's really hard to evaluate him but he looks like a guy that could excel against the run but not be as strong against the pass. Full pads will fetter that out for us. Good looking athlete for sure. I also really, really like the athleticism I saw from Fred Scott who will be battling Wallace for time. The outside spot could go a dozen different ways. More on that once we get a chance to see full pads.

Defensive Backs

James Jones is on the sidelines after his surgery but making a lot of noise and encouraging his teammates. Jones may not get on the field until this Fall but he sure is stepping forward as a leader on the sideline which is great. The biggest news in the secondary was a pretty heated exchange between wide receiver Carlos Harris and cornerback Kenny Buyers. I gotta say, Buyers held his own. I was just trying to get out of the way... note to Carlos, when you are fighting on the football field it isn't wise to take off your helmet. You can tell these guys can't wait to get into pads and let out some aggression. Interesting to see John Schilleci playing cornerback and I saw Coach Skladany spending time with him. The new DB coaches, Perry Carter and LaMarcus Hicks you can tell are feeling their way. Both are fairly quiet as compared to some of the more senior coaches but as with Joseph and Walters that will change in short order. Love what I am seeing out of Zed Evans at safety... he could be very good for us there and he was receiving a lot of praise from both Skladany and Carter for his play today. Beautiful sight for me was seeing #21 Freddie Warner roaming the practice field out there again. He was not wearing any type of brace which I found somewhat odd. He looks very fluid and very good thus far. He could be a HUGE boost to the secondary this season.

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Coaching and General Thoughts

As usual, Mac was out there shaking hands with all of the visitors prior to practice starting. His energy level was sky high and the same thing for Skladany. There was more than a fair amount of fumbles today, some due to them trying out a new center but also some miscues between the QB and running backs. It happened on one play and Mac got very angry. Then it would happen again on another play and I thought Mac was going to explode. As I mentioned there was a bit of a friendly altercation between Kenny Buyers and Carols Harris and that led to one of the longest post practice Mac speeches ever. Defensive line coach Kevin Patrick is going to be very intense and I really enjoyed seeing him out there coaching with enthusiasm. I really admire and like how John Skladany will make a point to let a player know when he did something good... it is not overdone but sincere. You can tell it MEANS something to the player receiving it and is appreciated. It was neat to see Derek Thompson out there catching passes in the QB drills and kidding around with the players. The thing that stands out to me right now is the overall team speed. This is the fastest team from top to bottom I can ever recall. I was pleased with the effort and intensity. You can smell the confidence after the bowl win. As always, the real show starts when the full pads start up and we find out who is for real. I always appreciate hearing other GMG fans offer their observations and opinions during Spring training and look forward to these as practice and scrimmages unfold. GMG!

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These are the observations I expect to see of DJ's performance throughout the spring and fall.

That said... in the pit of my stomach I still expect to see (depending on how soon they announce the starter, from Austin or my couch) McNutty starting against UT.

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Thank you Harry!

Very good report on the practice, players, and coaches.

For the Mean Green fans that cannot see a practice in person,

your reports put us there on the practice field too!

The fans appreciate the photos too!

The photos are great!

Thank you again for your reports!

Keep 'em coming!

GMG!

Edited by charlie nt73
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Really enjoyed the write up. Thanks Harry.

GreenP1........I have the same concern. I just don't think that Mac is going to want to throw any of the less experienced guys at the Horns, especially early on in the game.

I appreciate the effort that is being put out by every player on this team. But, I would like to see the best performing player earn the start, regardless of the experience factor.

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Great write-up. Any observations on the boy from Muenster, Flusche?

Not much to report yet with him. He's getting a good amount of playing time as a walk-on, mainly with the 3rds so that's a sign they like him. I like his size, he's got to be 6-2, 240? or thereabouts. I really did not get to see much of him and with shorts/helmets its hard to tell at that position.

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What date will they start wearing pads?

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Not much to report yet with him. He's getting a good amount of playing time as a walk-on, mainly with the 3rds so that's a sign they like him. I like his size, he's got to be 6-2, 240? or thereabouts. I really did not get to see much of him and with shorts/helmets its hard to tell at that position.

I sat on the row above Flusche's parents all season long. Great people, and they are the type of family that's good for this program. They would bring 1/4 of Muenster to the games and were pushing kids from Muenster to go Mean Green. Real good folks.

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Not much to report yet with him. He's getting a good amount of playing time as a walk-on, mainly with the 3rds so that's a sign they like him. I like his size, he's got to be 6-2, 240? or thereabouts. I really did not get to see much of him and with shorts/helmets its hard to tell at that position.

I didn't note which group he was running with, but I seem to remember that he was in the same group as Sir Calvin. In that drill where they belly flopped and then jumped up and chased the runner to the sidelines I was pretty impressed with his speed. He seems to be pretty much the 6'3" X 230 that he is listed on the official roster.

I agree with (heavy sigh) Caw Caw. Muenster (and other small towns like them) will bring all the extended families (and then some) to games to watch their home town boys. Especially since our games are so much easier for them to assess.....and afford.

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