During the first scrimmage of the spring that lasted two hours, University of Central Arkansas football coach Clint Conque saw plenty of energy.
"There were a lot of emotions out there," he said. "We’ve got some talented kids. I was pleased with how physical our defense played. There were some licks out there. Our defensive line is playing fast and physical.
"We caught the football well; I don’t recall but one drop."
It was a situational scrimmage in which the Bears worked on goal line, red zone and high-pressure situations such as starting drives on second and 9.
"We wanted to put our players in some challenging situations, mentally, to evaluate how they can tough it out," Conque said.
Wide receiver Dezmin Lewis made two superb touchdown receptions from quarterback Wynrick Smothers — one that was a one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone. Damien Watts caught a touchdown pass from Ryan Howard.
As is common in first scrimmages, the defense controlled most of it.
Conque was pleased with the running of Willie Matthews and said Howard, the backup quarterback, "just had an outstanding day in making plays and showing command of our offense." He said wide receiver Justin Burdette had his best day of the spring.
"I saw a lot of good things in different areas," he said.
He also saw some major negatives.
"The ball was on the ground way too much," he said. "The turnovers were unacceptable and whether they come from a first-team guy or a third-team guy, they will not be tolerated."
He noted the Bears were assessed seven penalties on each side of the ball.
"Really disappointed in those penalties," he said. "We had seven encroachment penalties, which means we couldn’t get lined up right. Two or three of those were on corners in press coverage. We’ve got to address and correct that."
Although some regulars were held out of the scrimmage or saw limited snaps, there were no major injuries.
The Bears will scrimmage again at 3 p.m. Saturday.
"That’s where we should see the most growth," he said, noting the scrimmage was the eighth of 15 allotted spring practices. "From today until next Saturday is where you expect to see the biggest jump."
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 501-505-1235. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send sports news to email@example.com)