Todd Dodge covered several topics after Thursday's morning session, and in case anyone's wondering, UNT's second scrimmage on Saturday is closed to the public. Not sure if director of football ops Mark Barrow will guard the gate, but consider yourself warned.
Back to business:
_ Right now, it's very unlikely standout receiver Casey Fitzgerald will return punts, but Dodge wants someone being an example out there. Dodge remembers losing a state title in high school and a national title in college, thanks in part to mishandled punt returns, so this is a touchy area for him. The possibles are all freshmen, and Dodge would rather see someone just fair-catch a punt the right way than worry first about breaking a big one.
_ DT Draylen Ross (ankle sprain) is expected back for Kansas State preparations next week. Dodge says he's not concerned. C Kelvin Drake (aggravated ankle) remains out, but backup J.J. Johnson has had so much work that this is among the team's strongest positions. Drake will return, but slowly. OT Matt Menard is back, too.
_ Hard to say who has the edge right now, the offense or defense. They're both bringing it and getting it handed to them at different times, but general aggression level on both sides this summer has spiked since a year ago. I like new DC Gary DeLoach's way of getting results: Rule with volume and/or fear.
_ Dodge said he hasn't been given a recent weight measurement for JC-transfer Nate Jenkins, but it might not be appreciably less than his reporting weight of 378. Big Nate is still running on his own during practice. He vows the weight will come off. You go, Nate.
_ Dodge wants to reward some walk-on seniors with two or three available scholarships. But with UNT's Academic Progress Report hit (85 to 80 scholies for the 2008 season), he wants to make sure rewarding those seniors -- combined with how the penalty affects the 2009 signing class -- doesn't put him more in the hole than expected. Until then, it's on hold.
_ Dodge and SMU coach June Jones talked about urging their players to touch base next summer and organize 7-on-7 drills and games. College coaches can't adminster 7-on-7 work, which is popular. UNT and Midwestern State did it this year. Vince Young-led Texas used to 7-on-7 with Texas State. There are no divisional limits, and fans can watch for free if strictly a word-of-mouth event not promoted or run by the university or coaches. I'm guessing that if possible, pass-crazy UNT and SMU could sell tickets to a 7-on-7 game (they can't). Next summer, keep ears to the ground, UNT fans.
_ UNT lost another JC/transfer this week in DB Justin Edwards, who managed to practice a week before revealing he wasn't getting his associate's degree. Edwards, who came to UNT from a JC in Arizona, had pending coursework at a Denton-area JC but didn't finish or pass. He told Dodge four days ago and is likely headed to a Division II school. Edwards doesn't leave a huge hole, but he's the second 2008 signee to fall short on his associate's. DE Alonzo Horton never made it to Denton, and summer school apparently couldn't have saved him. Both Horton (Auburn) and Edwards (Iowa) were former Division I players who transferred to JCs. In both cases, Dodge said the latter schools lacked a "lead guy" to help UNT coaches monitor their academic progress. Sometimes, a JC's checks and balances amount to a wilderness. Both players were on track to graduate when they signed in February. Knowing what he knew then, Dodge said he'd sign both again, but he'll be on coaches and himself to avoid similar situations.