The University of Central Arkansas Bears finished their second day in shells Wednesday and will don full pads Thursday afternoon, their fifth practice of fall camp.
“It was a long practice and a hot practice,’ head coach Clint Conque said, “but we pushed them through it and conditioned at the end. I thought the first days in shells(Tuesday) we slowed down our installation of the offense and I thought the offense did a better job.
“Today, though, I felt like the defense had the upper hand. And we did much more 11-on-11 situations, we did play-action pass, we did blitz for the first time and extended team situation. And I thought the defense really flew around. Maybe they didn’t do quite as well in practice 3 but they definitely responded in practice 4.”
Conque said one aspect that has caught the eye of the coaching staff is the play of the defensive line.
“Our depth on the defensive front is really starting to show,’ he said. “(Ends) Markell (Carter) and Trey Lippe are playing very, very fast. And Taylor Schuyler, a young freshman from Bixby, Okla., has a really bright future here.
“And I can’t say enough about (junior linebacker) Jessie Sims from Baker, La. He had a great summer of preparation and has really carried it over. He was all over the field today. I’m just really proud of the way he’s taken ownership of this football team.”
On the offensive side, Conque singled out redshirt freshman quarterback Wynrick Smothers from Destrehan, La.
“I thought Wynrick Smothers had a good day today. I thought he made some good throws, some good decisions and didn’t get rattled. He really took a big step forward today. He’s such a dual threat to our offensive scheme. He made some outstanding decisions throwing the ball and then in the run game he did some really good things, too.
“He’s very athletic and he’s playing fast and with a lot of confidence right now.”
Conque said he was disappointed in the receiving corps, led by returnees Willie Landers, Dominique Croom, T.J. Adams and Isaiah Jackson, on Wednesday. “They struggled today,’ he said. “We didn’t catch the ball very well at all. The defense had way too many opportunities at interceptions. We’re not getting the consistency we’re looking for as a coaching staff right now.”
UCA missed freshman defensive end John Miles for the second day because of heat illness. Junior defensive end Jermayne Lett has a lateral ankle sprain and All-Southland Conference kicker Eddie Carmona went down in a punting drill with a hyperextended knee.