University of Central Arkansas football coach Clint Conque said the basic plan for the season opener at Ole Miss is as old as football.
"Any game you coach, unless you have superior talent or are superior in depth, you want to put yourself in position to win in the fourth quarter," said Conque on Monday at the first Bearbackers luncheon of the season.
The Bears, coming off a 9-4 season, will meet a Southeastern Conference opponent for the first time Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at Oxford, Miss. They are expected to play before a crowd in excess of 58,00, the largest group a UCA athletic team has ever played.
"It’s a great challenge challenge for our players but also a great opportunity for our fans," Conque said. "They get to experience tailgating at The Grove, which has been rated No. 1 in tailgating in all of college football. I think that’s part of the college experience and the Division I experience."
While the game against the Rebels is a marquee game, Conque is also focused on a bigger picture.
"We are preparing for a season, not just a game," Conque said. "We would be doing the same things as far as strength training, coniditioning and practice habits as we would if we were opening up against Trinity University, Arkansas, Alabama or LSU. We are preparing our team the same way.
"And I like this team. I like the makeup and talent, even if we are a little short on experience. I think we have pushed the right buttons as a coaching staff."
Ole Miss is coached by Hugh Freeze, who coached Arkansas State last year when the Red Wolves defeated the Bears. Freeze, who replaced Houston Nutt, brings in a new staff, a new offense and defense and several new players.
"Depth is one their issues," Conque said. "But they have a typical-looking frontline group like you see in the SEC.
"We’ve got a few question marks, but so do they."
TRAVEL: Conque said he will take 70-72 players to Oxford. The team will stay overnight Friday in Memphis, then travel to Oxford Saturday afternoon for the 6:06 p.m. kickoff. Conque expects to take eight true freshmen on the traveling squad.
NEXT: Because of the Labor Day holiday, the Bearbackers luncheon will be held Tuesday instead of Monday. It will begin at 11:45 a.m. at the Hall of Fame Room at Estes Stadium.