The showdown between Derek Thompson and Brock Berglund for the starting quarterback job at North Texas was put on hold Saturday.
Berglund continued to struggle with a hamstring injury he has been dealing with since the end of winter workouts and saw his afternoon cut short, ending the head-to-head competition for the day.
That injury opened the door for Thompson, who capped what UNT’s coaches described as a great week for the senior by throwing three touchdown passes and showing a general command of the offense during a 105-play workout at Apogee Stadium.
“Overall, I was pretty happy with my performance,” Thompson said. “Obviously there are some throws I would like to have back, but it’s going to be that way every game. You want to strive for perfection. I won’t stop until I get there.”
Thompson might not have been perfect, but he was impressive while connecting with Brelan Chancellor on touchdown passes that covered 75 and 16 yards in addition to a 30-yard strike to Darnell Smith.
Andrew McNulty took most of the snaps with the second team after Berglund aggravated the hamstring injury he suffered during the Mean Green Olympics, a competition between UNT’s offense and defense based largely on strength and conditioning drills.
“It was a great day for Derek,” Chancellor said. “He was throwing good balls and putting it on us. We have been working on our timing, getting the ball in the right spots and us being in the right spots as receivers.”
UNT has adjusted its offense while working through that process in the spring and continued to show some new dimensions during its first Saturday scrimmage.
Thompson has lost 15 pounds since the end of last season and looked comfortable with some of the new wrinkles UNT has put in its offense, including a more prominent quarterback run game.
“Derek has had a really good week,” UNT head coach Dan McCarney said. “He’s been sharp, consistent and is really doing a good job. I like where he is at right now. He hasn’t taken one thing for granted being the returning starter and a returning team captain. He is coming to the meeting room, coming to practice and came to the stadium today about as hungry as any player we have on this team. You like that out of your leader on offense.”
UNT offensive coordinator Mike Canales attributed some of the Mean Green’s success to the way his offensive plan fits the skills of Thompson, Berglund and McNulty, not to mention the skill-position players UNT has on offense. Chancellor is back after missing the last four games of 2012 with a broken collarbone.
UNT also has added a few other key weapons, including Texas transfer Darius Terrell at wide receiver.
“It was a great day for Derek and a good day for [McNulty],” Canales said. “What we are doing is really in their wheelhouse. Derek losing weight has made a big difference. He is running better and looks smoother. He just looks better.”
Brown suffers knee injury, depth dwindles on D-line
UNT’s already depleted defensive line took another hit Saturday when junior transfer defensive end Quenton Brown went down with an injured right knee.
“They never know until they do an MRI, but it is a possible serious knee injury,” McCarney said. “It’s sad. We’ll know more in the next 24 to 48 hours. He won’t be back the rest of the spring.”
UNT signed Brown in the hope that he could help fill the void left by the graduation of K.C. Obi, who led UNT with 5 1/2 sacks last season. Brown was seeing time with the first-team defense.
Brown is just the latest in a series of defensive linemen who will be out or limited for the rest of spring practice.
Stating defensive end Brandon McCoy, starting defensive tackle Ryan Boutwell and backup defensive end Daryl Mason are either out for spring or severely limited due to lingering injuries. Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Dylan McDorman was forced to give up football because of shoulder issues.
UNT has lost five of the 12 players listed on its defensive front depth chart heading into spring practice.
Running back Antoinne Jimmerson missed Saturday’s scrimmage with a sprained ankle and is in a boot. ... Brandin Byrd broke free for a 60-yard run while outrunning several UNT defenders. McCarney said the run was an indication of the improved speed and agility Byrd has shown this spring.