With afternoon weather conditions that will rival any in Hawaii in a couple of weeks, the University of Central Arkansas Bears went through their final scrimmage of the season Saturday with no one leaving the field with a major injury.
"That may be the best win-win of all," coach Clint Conque said after the injury situation. "And what a beautiful day!"
The UCA coaches will evaluate the scrimmage, then start forming their final depth chart for the season opener Sept. 4 at Hawaii.
"There will be some difficult decisions to make, but they will be made not just on this scrimmage, but the body of work," Conque said. "It’s a different level of intensity as we get into game preparation. We have to decide the people who will now get the reps. You can’t rep 90 players."
One of the decisions will concern No. 2 quarterback behind senior Robbie Park. Arkansas transfer Nathan Dick has a triceps injury and hasn’t been able to throw for about two weeks. True freshman Wynrick Smothers has gotten most of the work lately with the second team, but the UCA coaches had originally hoped to redshirt him. Redshirt freshman Trae Cook, who had been moved to receiver, has gotten some work late at quarterback and Conque saw some good things Saturday.
"The situation is fluid right now," Conque said.
Park, a fifth-year senior, was 13-for-19 in the scrimmage for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Smothers was 3-of-5 for 22 yards and one touchdown. Cook was 2-of-7 for 30 yards.
"Robbie managed the game well," Conque said. "When he was in there, we got in and out of the huddle and kept things moving and he threw the ball well."
Preston Echols caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Park, and Rico Moss caught a 40-yard touchdown pass. True freshman Dominque Croom made a spectacular catch in the corner of the end zone to complete a 12-yard touchdown play from Smothers.
"He’s on the plane to Hawaii," said Conque about Croom, who has steadily improved after the first week.
Anthony Blackmon broke for a 42-yard touchdown run. Leonard Ceaser had a 6-yard scoring run and Terence Bobo a 1-yard run.
Defensive linemen Larry Hart and Taylor Scott were held out of the scrimmage as a precaution against injury.
"The offense hit some big plays and several backs hit some big runs," Conque said. "I didn’t think we tackled well in the open field as we have or need to. But let’s be clear that Taylor Scott and Larry Hart did not scrimmage, and Uriah Perry (noseguard) may have gotten in for a play or two. But we still need to do better."
Conque was disappointed with penalties, three in a row at one point.
"We had a 30-minute sessions with conference officials before the scrimmage about penalties and discipline," Conque said. "Then, we come out here and have the number of penalties we did. First and 10 is hard enough right now. We are not explosive enough on offense to overcome that if we consistently do those things."
With the end of preseason camp and two-a-days, the UCA coaches will be working this week on installing their game plan for Hawaii.