The most notable aspect of the University of Central Arkansas' first scrimmage of the season may have been who was not on the field rather than who was on it.
About nine projected frontline players missed the scrimmage with various types of injuries. Most notable was wide receiver Willie Landers, who is out indefinitely with a knee injury, and quarterback Nathan Dick, who is making slow progress in healing from a triceps injury and missed most of last week's practices.
"It was a mixed bag out there," said coach Clint Conque after the two-hour scrimmage Sunday night at First Security Field at Estes Stadium. "It was not so much with the 1's. I saw some good things out there with them. There was not a lot of continuity with the 2's. But there were a lot of freshmen out there."
Also missing the scrimmage was offensive linemen Lane Freiwald, Joe Lehocky and Corey Howard, fullback Nick Cowger, linebacker Jacob Bane, defensive lineman Trey Lippe and defensive back Derrick Boyd. Punter Jon Beard was limited.
With Dick on the sideline, freshman Wynrick Smothers got the reps with the second-team offense and showed his athletic ability in spurts, including a 15-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Kennemer late in the scrimmage.
"He's young and he's raw but right now he's No. 2 and we've got to get him ready depending on the situation with Nathan," Conque said.
Running back Brent Grimes scored from the 1 after a pass from Robbie Park to Preston Echols. Leonard Ceasar scored twice in red zone work. Frank Newsome intercepted Smothers and returned it for a 40-yard touchdown. Eddie Carmona booted two 30-yard field goals. Linebacker James Lancaster made a couple of key stops and had an interception.
"Two disappointing thing was we had a couple of penalties that cost us about 35 yards in field position and we had a couple of upperclassmen get in a fight that would have gotten them ejected in a game," Conque said. "They bother me but we can get that corrected.
"We'll be able to evaluate a lot of things from the video. There's a lot of teaching moments out there, which you expect. This was practice 11 out of 29 before the season."
UCA's next major scrimmage will be Saturday afternoon.
(Further coverage in Tuesday's Log Cabin)