(This is the first in a position-by-position Q&A series on UCA football as the Bears break for the summer. Interviews with selected players were conducted after spring practice)
Wynrick Smothers, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior, flourished in his role as No. 1 quarterback last year with one of the best seasons a UCA quarterback had in history. He completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 3,103 yards and 31 touchdowns in leading the Bears to a 9-3 season, a Southland Conference championship and their second straight appearance in the NCAA FCS playoffs. He was the Bears second-leading rusher with 449 yards and three touchdowns.
As Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year, he established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in FCS going into this season
After the success last season, what are you working on now?
"I have to be a little more accurate on some throws, some better footwork in the pocket and become more fundamentally sound, getting the reads down. It comes down to all the basics of playing quarterback, which you can never get perfect. It’s getting better at the little things."
What did last year do to your confidence?
"Last year was a huge confidence builder. It does create a higher comfort level. I have seen some things already that other teams throw at you and I have experienced some things. So, it’s a matter for going back to the film and determining what I can do better. The confidence comes from that you’ve done it once before and you can better yourself."
Are you guarding against complacency?
"I always strive to do better in everything I do, not try to settle for all those things I did last year. All those awards are in the past. Nobody is worried about that anymore. It’s moving on to what you can do better and basically graduate from where you were on the field last year."
Do you feel you’re a target after the success last year?
"The quarterback is the target of the defense, no matter how good he is. That’s just the defensive plan — to always get the quarterback."
How do you feel about this year’s offensive unit?
"I feel pretty good. We’re gonna have to have some freshmen to come in and help. We’ve lost a lot of receivers and running backs. but we still have a lot of playmakers. It’s a matter of us coming together and playing on the same accord and build on the success."
What about the returning players who do have experience?
"All the offensive line has experience. When you have that kind of experience coming back. They’ve been in the dogfight. That should help them and the whole team in general. Everybody knows we had some bigtime receivers last year. But people come and go. The people we have are just gonna have to step up and get better. Players who haven’t done it yet, it will just be their turn."
What did you learn from last year?
"You’ve got to prepare to play well and also never give up, whatever the situation or the score. I looked at the stands at the Sam Houston game (late before the Bears’ comeback win) and 50 percent of the crowd had left. You keep playing through the bad times. No telling what can happen."
POSITON ANALYSIS: Smothers is a proven playmaker, a dangerous dual-threat clutch quarterback who is one of the best in FCS, both as player and a leader. Junior Ryan Howard emerged from the spring as an extremely capable backup with great knowledge of the offense. Some incoming freshman and possibly a transfer could add to the depth.
NEXT: Wide receivers