Southeastern Louisiana was a struggling team last week.
The Lions went into the Texas State game at 1-5. Texas State, competing as an NCAA Division I independent this season because it has 85 scholarship athletes on the way to the Western Athletic Conference, had hammered other Southland Conference teams.
The Lions won 38-28.
That caught University of Central Arkansas coach Clint Conque’s attention for Saturday’s homecoming opponent.
"Turnovers," Conque said. "They had been turning the ball over. They didn’t against Texas State."
"We’ve been emphasizing that (avoiding turnovers) over and over again," Southeastern Louisiana coach Mike Lucas said. "We started taping the football to our running backs’ hands so they would get used to not dropping it. We would have the scout team push and pull at the football in practice. We did about everything you can think of."
UCA is plus-seven for the season in turnover margin, a key factor in the Bears running off four straight victories.
"Southeastern Louisiana got my attention the first time we played them in 2007 with the athleticism of their players," Conque said. "A to Z, we’ve seen year in and year out, they have the best athletes we see. When they value the football, they are lethal.
"They are now doing a great job of getting the ball to their playmakers."
The Bears need a victory in their homecoming game to stay within striking distance of conference leader Sam Houston State and position themselves for a possible postseason berth.
UCA is 54-26-1 in homecoming games and has won eight straight. The last loss at homecoming was to North Alabama in 2002. Under Conque, UCA is 10-1 at homecoming.
"One of the things that impress you about Central Arkansas is quarterback Nathan Dick and his quick release and how he knows what to do with the football," Lucas said. "Their running backs are indistinguishable. They all are good."
"Southeastern had 500 yards in all-purpose yards against Texas State," Conque said. "They have big-play firepower."