Bears begin first spring under new staff

New University of Central Arkansas head football coach Steve Campbell and his staff will get their first on-the-field look at the Bears on Thursday with the beginning of spring practice.

"It’s not exactly spring, more like arctic," said Campbell. "We’re excited to get started. We’ll have to install new systems on both sides of the ball and find out from our personnel who is ready to step up."

Spring will be broken into two segments this year with Spring Break in the middle. UCA will practice generally Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The Bears will scrimmage Saturday, March 15, then break for Spring Break. After spring break, they will follow a similar practice schedule with scrimmages set for April 5 and the spring game for Saturday, April 12.

UCA, 7-5 last season, has several veteran players returning and several young players who were forced into emergency frontline duty last season.

"There should be good competition in a lot of spots, but it’s a new start," Campbell said. "Every year is different. Each year, you start over. Florida State (BCS champion) is starting over. Every position is definitely competitive. Some of the older guys have played a lot of football and it’s time to show what they can do."

Although some players will be limited during rehabilitation from injury, Campbell has seen positive results during the offseason.

"I think our offseason had a great impact — we’re seeing added strength, more muscle, a good work ethic," he said.

He said the spring will feature the usual empahasis on fundamentals with the coaches evaluating where players fit best in the new system. He said the offensive system will depend on the abilities of the personnel but that he favors a balancedf offense, with possibly more use of the tight end and fullback than from previous seasons. Defensively, the Bears will change from a 4-3 basic front to a 3-4.

"With a new staff, we’ve got to get to know our players and what they do well and get them in the right spot to make plays," he said. "We also want to make sure we are good in the kicking game."

Practices will be open to the public.

The schedule:

Thursday, March 6 - 3:45 p.m.

Saturday, March 8 - 6 a.m.

Tuesday, March 11 - 3:45 p.m.

Thursday, March 13 - 3:45 p.m.

Saturday, March 15 - 9 a.m. (scrimmage)

Tuesday, March 18 - 3:45 p.m.

Thursday, March 20 - 3:45 p.m.


Tuesday, April 1 - 3:45 p.m.

Thursday, April 3 - 3:45 p.m.

Saturday, April 5 - 9:00 a.m. (scrimmage)

Tuesday, April 8 - 3:45 p.m.

Thursday, April 10 - 3:45 p.m.

Friday, April 11 - 3:45 p.m.

Saturday, April 12 - Purple-Gray game, 3 p.m.