Anthony Wyche has spent a whole lot of time since he arrived at North Texas this summer hunkered down in a film room.
The payoff was clear on Saturday during the Mean Green’s third scrimmage of fall practice at Apogee Stadium.
Wyche worked with UNT’s first- and second-team offenses and scored on a 16-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Mason Fine. UNT added the former Los Angeles Valley College standout to bolster a backfield that already includes standout junior Jeffrey Wilson.
That plan is playing out just as UNT hoped it would.
“Wyche had a great scrimmage brought some energy to our offense and made plays,” UNT coach Seth Littrell said. “He’s a tough kid who is very coachable. He does a good job of implementing what you are trying to teach him. Yesterday it was pass protection that he worked on.”
Wyche could always pound the ball with his physical running style. What he needed to work on were all the other aspects of playing the position.
Wyche’s desire to improve landed him in UNT’s film room early and often this summer.
“Making the transition from junior college was hard at the beginning, learning all the concepts,” Wyche said. “I am in the film room every day. It’s a big jump from junior college to Division I. I am trying to learn the concepts and go from there.”
Wyche has already carved himself out a significant role. He is returning punts and kickoffs in addition to seeing significant time in UNT’s backfield.
He had even more opportunities than normal on Saturday. Wilson was still recovering from an illness he endured earlier in the week.
Littrell said UNT’s coaches didn’t want to push Wilson too hard and risk him missing more time.
Wilson has missed five games combined in his first two seasons at UNT and is hoping to stay healthy for the entire season this year.
UNT seems to feel a little better about what it would have to work with if Wilson is injured with Wyche playing well.
“Anthony [Wyche] will absolutely help us,” UNT quarterback Alec Morris said. “You never know what someone is about until you put pads on and have some contact. He is a physical runner and is doing really well.”
Execution a concern for Littrell
UNT had game officials at its scrimmage on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Mean Green, they were pretty busy throughout the afternoon.
The Mean Green were called for several pre-snap penalties.
“We were way too sloppy,” Littrell said. “I’m not concerned with aggressive penalties. You are going to have some of those, but false starts, delay of game, offsides, those are just mental errors.”
Defense gets off to fast start
UNT’s defense held the Mean Green’s starting offense in check in the early stages of the scrimmage, forcing consecutive three-and-outs.
“We needed to do a better job of getting ready to play,” Morris said.
“We had two early three-and-outs. We have four or five touchdown drives after that, but we have to come out faster. You can’t dig yourselves a hole at the beginning of the game.”
Littrell attributed UNT’s slow start offensively in part to the play of its defense.
“Our defense came out really well,” Littrell said. “Our offense came out flat and was abused for a while. We have to come out excited and ready to play. Our defense was, but our offense wasn’t.”
Littrell: Edwards has elite speed
UNT added wide receiver Spencer Edwards, a former second-round pick in the Major League Baseball draft, as a walk-on this week.
Edwards played football and baseball in high school before being selected by the Tampa Bay Rays with the 88th overall pick in 2012.
“He has great speed,” Littrell said. “He ran a 6.3 [in the 60-yard dash] at the combine. He is really fast, but has a lot of work to do to learn in the system. He is mature and has a lot of nice qualities.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.