UNT scrimmage preview

North Texas players go through drills at the Lovelace & McNatt Families Practice Facility this week. UNT will host the Mean Green Kick Off Celebration on Saturday at Apogee Stadium.

North Texas still has a few weeks to go before it opens the 2021 football season.

The biggest event before the Mean Green take on Northwestern State on Sept. 4 is set for Saturday at Apogee Stadium.

UNT athletic director Wren Baker will speak at the Mean Green Kick Off Celebration, where fans will be able to tour the Lovelace & McNatt Families Indoor Practice Facility. The main attraction, though, will be the rare glimpse UNT will give fans of the Mean Green’s first scrimmage of fall practice.

UNT will open the stands at Apogee at 10:30 a.m., an hour after the beginning of practice. School officials will open the club level at 11 in advance of a noon program that will include Baker’s address.

The scrimmage promises to be a key point in fall workouts for UNT, which still has several issues to work through.

“I’m looking forward to the scrimmage on Saturday,” quarterback Austin Aune said. “Practice is fun. The team periods and 7-on-7 are great. In scrimmages the coaches are not on the field. You get to see what you know and how the guys are going to react.”

Aune will be centerstage in the quarterback race that is one of the most intriguing position battles of the fall. North Carolina transfer Jace Ruder and veteran backup Kason Martin are competing with Aune for the job.

Aune, a former Argyle standout, threw for 1,650 yards and 13 touchdowns last season when he split time with Jason Bean.

Bean transferred to Kansas after the season.

“I’m so excited for the quarterback competition,” Ruder said. “It has been a great camp so far. I am excited about what is to come.”

Ruder has quickly gotten up to speed since he graduated from North Carolina and landed at UNT.

UNT coach Seth Littrell said earlier this week that he has been pleased with the way Ruder and the rest of his players have fared in the early stages of camp.

“The energy has been good,” Littrell said. “We have had a lot of great work against each other and are staying healthy by playing smart.

“We are learning and growing. The excitement has been there, but we still have a long way to go.”

The Mean Green’s players have been pleased with the progress they have made so far.

“Our team looks really good,” Ruder said. “The line is killing it. The defense is doing a great job. The running backs and receivers are doing awesome. The quarterback competition has been fun. We have supported each other on the field and in the film room.”

The first scrimmage of fall practice will mark another step toward preparing for the season and an opportunity to build on a 4-6 campaign that culminated with a loss to Appalachian State in the Myrtle Beach Bowl.

“I’m excited for the scrimmage,” Ruder said. “It’s been a while since we have been on the field going live. I am looking forward to running around and having fun.”

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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