Earlier this summer, North Texas offensive coordinator Mike Canales compared the Mean Green playing without wide receiver Brelan Chancellor for essentially the last five games of the 2012 season to playing without an arm.
That’s how important Chancellor is to the Mean Green’s offense.
The way UNT’s 40-6 win over Idaho unfolded on Saturday night at Apogee Stadium was just the latest reminder.
The senior returned from the broken collarbone that sidelined him at the end of last season for the Mean Green’s season opener and put on a show.
Chancellor caught an 85-yard touchdown pass, posted a 62-yard punt return and racked up 283 all-purpose yards.
“It felt great to be back,” Chancellor said. “You can’t take anything for granted. I look at my scar in the mirror. It reminds me that any play, you can be done.”
UNT struggled last season offensively — averaging 20.9 points a game — especially at the end of the year without Chancellor. The Mean Green scored 21 points or fewer in three of its final five games of the year.
Chancellor went down on the first play of a loss to Middle Tennessee, the first of those games.
The former Copperas Cove standout was back at full strength for UNT’s game against Idaho and made a series of big plays.
None was bigger than the touchdown pass he caught from Thompson, who sidestepped an oncoming rusher and hit Chancellor behind Idaho’s secondary for the 85-yard completion.
“You have no idea how big it was,” Thompson said of Chancellor’s return. “The more he gets the football, the more good things are going to happen for us. He is that type of playmaker. It was good to see No. 3 back on the field.”
Chancellor said that UNT’s receivers heard the doubts that some people had about the group heading into the season and took it as a challenge.
UNT had 12 players catch passes in its win over Idaho.
Chancellor set the tone for that group in his return. Thompson’s first five completions were to Chancellor, who showed why UNT missed him last season.
“He was a dynamic football player out there,” UNT head coach Dan McCarney said. “It really hurt us when he got hurt last year. He has speed and quickness, toughness and good vision. He has that other gear that other people don’t have.”