Brent Grimes has a lot of fire as he comes closer to etching his name in the University of Central Arkansas record book.
He knows the drill by now as the Bears head to Natchitoches, La., for their Southland Conference opener against Northwestern State.
Things get intense.
The Bears are 3-1. The Demons are 0-4.
As far as Grimes is concerned, tonight is a battle of unbeaten teams.
“In starting conference, everybody is 0-0,” he said. “There is a new focus and high intensity game by game. You can never take a game for granted. Everybody brings their ‘A’ game.”
In three years against SLC teams, the Bears are 13-2. But one of those defeats occurred on a last-second field goal in 2007 at Turpin Stadium in Natchitoches.
“We’re the new kid on the block, and people take shots at us,” Grimes said. “When we came in, it was like, ‘Let’s see how serious and good they really are.’ We always have the bullseye on our backs, but I love the challenge. I’d rather have it that way. Coach (Clint) Conque always says that the wind blows the hardest at the top of the mountain.”
Grimes, a senior, led the SLC in scoring last season with a league-record 21 touchdowns and 126 points. He has scored seven touchdowns this season. That puts him within six touchdowns and 40 points of the all-time school records held by Kentrel Rogers.
“Scoring and records are not my main focus going into a game,” he said. “It’s something that primarily coaches, other players and fans talk about. It would be a great accomplishment, but for me I just concentrate on playing football.
“If the record comes, the team made it possible for me. It’s the fullback, offensive line and coach (Hud) Jackson. I’m always trying to get in the end zones and if it comes, it comes.”
Grimes credits Jackson with helping him mature as a running back.
“He’s taught me to be patient in reading defenses,” he said. “He’s taught me to read techniques and tendencies. He’s taught me a lot about things I thought I knew already.
“He’s been both a coach and a father figure. I’m six hours from home, and he’s always been here for me. He’s helped me stay steady and kept me going in the right direction.”
Grimes, along with Leonard Ceaser, have been key elements in the Bears establishing a dangerous running game the past three years to complement a dynamic passing game.
“In conference play, you have to establish the run,” he said, “especially in an way game. But to win any game, at some point you have to have a running game whether that’s in the open field or red zone. Our offensive line have worked their butts off, and our fullbacks have worked their butts off, and our backs have worked our butts off to make sure we do that.”
The offensive coordinator for Northwestern State is Todd Cooley, who was Grimes’ offensive coordinator the last three years.
“To me, it’s an advantage to our defense and a disadvantage to them on offense,” he said. “Our defense has seen the same plays and the same offense they are running for years. The defense has seen it every day and every spring. It seems a lot of our playbook coach Cooley is doing with them.
“But it will come down to who makes plays, who can force turnovers, who can make the right cuts and the right reads to the ball. Even if the defense knows what the offense is doing, it still has to make the right cuts and the right reads.”
And he intends to do all he can to make the Bears 1-0 in conference.
“In no kind of way are we going to look past them (the Demons),” he said. “That 0-4 is deceiving. They’ve played big-name teams. And we know how it feels to lose and we don’t want that feeling. We know how it feels to be up and to be down. We’ve really had it all our first four games.”