Derek Thompson will get the first crack at nailing down the starting quarterback job at North Texas today, when the Mean Green will scrimmage for the first time this spring.
UNT has worked out six times since the beginning of spring practice, a time that has seen Thompson open a slight lead over junior college transfer Brent Osborn in the race for the starting spot. He will look to tighten his hold on the job when UNT works out at 9 a.m. at the Darrell R. Dickey Practice Facility.
"Derek will take a lot more snaps with the first team," UNT head coach Dan McCarney said. "So far, he is our No. 1 guy. There has been good competition going, but he has the edge going into tomorrow. We like his ability to make plays and bounce back from mistakes. I like his leadership abilities and he has a good grasp of the offense."
UNT will work out for approximately two hours with its first-team offense and defense facing each other. The second-team offense and second-team defense will also square off. The third teams will be mixed in as time allows during the workout, McCarney said.
UNT will begin the workout by following its pre-game routine and then going through its circle drill that will have players go one-on-one in full-contact battles for physical supremacy. The scrimmage will follow. The Mean Green will go through several situations during the workout, including third-and-short and the two-minute drill.
"It will be as game-like as we possibly can make it," McCarney said. "We have some major decisions to make. It's a really important evaluation day."
The quarterback spot is just one of the positions UNT is still evaluating. UNT still has decisions to make in terms of who will start on its offensive line and how the rotation among its interior defensive linemen will look.
How UNT's players fare today will play a key role in who has a chance to start this fall.
"We will grade it just like a game," McCarney said. "We don't want a bunch of mental errors, missed assignments, missed tackles and pre-snap penalties. We want to execute, really look like a team that is on the rise and that is starting to improve and understand the system. We want to see them compete like crazy, play physical, play relentless and have some fun playing the game. That's what you want to see because it is completely different now. All the coaches are off the field. We will see if we can execute and go play."
Thompson barely had a chance to show what he could do in a game last year. He made his first start of the season against Army in the third week of the season and was lost for the year with a broken leg before halftime.
"I am ready to go," Thompson said earlier this week. "Once you have been on the field, it comes back pretty quickly. I just have to go out there and produce."
Thompson will be one of several players who will try to make an impression on UNT's coaches.
"You can drill and drill, but when you get guys out there in striped shirts and everyone else but the players off the field, it's just you and them," McCarney said. "Some guys grow up and execute and go make plays and some can't."
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.