The first offseason of the Steve Campbell era in University of Central Arkansas football had a late ending Tuesday night.
The first practice for the first-year coach and his team will begin early Saturday.
The Bears officially report to preseason camp Friday and will begin drills at 9:15 a.m. Saturday. Campbell said all players on the allowed 95-player preseason roster are already here.
UCA concluded offseason work Monday with a "Midnight Lift" competition. Also the Bears went through a "Fear the Stripes" run through campus, concluding with running the steps at Estes Stadium. Also at Estes Stadium, The players were required to do 16 reps of various exercises and drills at six stations, representing the 16 games they hope to play, including the NCAA FCS championship.
"I’m pleased with the offseason work," Campbell said. "This group is not afraid to work hard."
Because of improvements in conditioning and gains in the weight room, Campbell is hoping for a more physical team.
"There has to be some physicality; these players haven’t put on pads in four months. But there has to be an aspect to it as far as player safety and avoiding injury. Getting players back on the field as quickly as possible after an injury will be a huge thing."
The first practices will not be in full pads. UCA will begin full pads workouts Wednesday. The frist scrimmage is set for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 9.
"We are excited because we have playmakers returning on both sides of the ball," said Campbell. The Bears return 19 players who have started at one time or another from a team that finished 7-5 last season.
The season opener is Aug. 30 at Texas Tech.
The Bears will play 11 straight weekends with the open date not coming until Nov. 16.
"That’s why we have been working so hard on strength and conditioning," Campbell said. "Football is a collision sport and you have to build your body up to be able to take the pounding 11 straight weeks, a 12-game regular-season schedule and possibly four more games in the playoffs."
WEEK 1 PRACTICE SCHEDULE:
Saturday: 9:15 a.m.
Sunday: 3 p.m.
Monday: 4 p.m.
Tuesday: 4 p.m.
Wednesday: 4 p.m. (full pads)
Thursday: 4 p.m.
Friday: 4 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 9: Scrimmage, 9:30 a.m.