DENTON, Texas (3/6/08) - The North Texas football team will begin its 2008 spring practice schedule Friday and head coach Todd Dodge is ready to get it underway. Spring ball, which was originally set to begin Thursday, was pushed back a day due to snow flurries.
“Anytime you have a tough season like we did, you are anxious to put it behind you and get back to work,” Dodge said. “While we were disappointed in the wins and losses, we know that we made improvement that will help us as we continue to develop this program.”
The spring practice schedule will feature 15 practices over the next five weeks, culminating with the annual Green and White game on Saturday, April 12. The Mean Green will also hold two scrimmages at Fouts Field during the spring, the first on March 28 and the second on April 4. All practices and scrimmages are open to the public.
Spring practice this year should be much more productive than last year as Dodge and his staff won’t have to spend as much time getting familiar with the team.
“Last spring we were trying to teach system while at the same time learning about each of our player's abilities,” Dodge said. “Now that we have been around them for a year and they have become familiar with what we are trying to do, we will all be able to get much more out of practice.”
The primary goal of this spring, according to Dodge, will be to determine depth and each player's ability to fit into a certain role on the team.
“It will be an evaluation period for guys who might not have received a lot of playing time in the fall,” Dodge said. “We hope that after 15 practices we are closer to being able to determine where everyone on this team is best suited to help us be successful.”
One of the most anticipated new faces for spring football will actually be a familiar face. Defensive coordinator Gary DeLoach is back for his second tour of duty with North Texas after directing some of the most successful Mean Green defenses during the early part of this decade. DeLoach had the Mean Green defense ranked in the top 20 nationally before moving on to become an assistant coach at UCLA following the 2002 season.
Some of the more interesting position battles will be at offensive and defensive line. While North Texas returns four of five starters on the offensive line, three of those starters will miss spring practice with injuries. It should provide an opportunity for less-experienced players like J.J. Johnson, Victor Gill, Matt Thomlinson and Bryan Glass to get plenty of repetitions and establish a place the depth chart. On the defensive line, North Texas will try to find some depth for experienced players Joseph Miller, Issac Thomas and Eddrick Gilmore.
The Mean Green returns eight starters on an offensive unit that broke all kinds of records in 2007. All-America candidate Casey Fitzgerald returns for his senior season after breaking nearly every North Texas and Sun Belt Conference single-season receiving record.
On defense, there are six starters back, including all-conference linebacker Craig Robertson who is the top returning tackler and led the team in interceptions as a freshman last year. Junior cornerback Antoine Bush has been a starter for two years and will be a leader in the defensive secondary.
North Texas will begin the 2008 season at Kansas State Aug. 30th with the home opener coming against Tulsa Sept. 6th.
North Texas Spring Practice Schedule
March 7 Practice Facility
March 10 Practice Facility
March 11 Practice Facility
March 13 Practice Facility
March 25 Practice Facility
March 27 Practice Facility
March 28 Scrimmage at Fouts Field
March 31 Practice Facility
April 1 Practice Facility
April 3 Practice Facility
April 4 Scrimmage Fouts Field
April 8 Practice Facility
April 10 Practice Facility
April 12 Green/White Game at Fouts Field