University of Central Arkansas football coach Clint Conque assured supporters Monday that he will never feel badly about a victory.
“But there are different degrees of wins,” he said at the weekly Bearbackers luncheon after a mundane 24-10 victory over NCAA Division II Glenville State.
“I think our football team will tell you they are disappointed in how they played. The game did not have a lot of flow to it. They (the Pioneers) played keepaway. It was a good plan to shorten the game. They’d milk the play clock to almost zero, pop a run or a pass here and there with maybe a penalty against us thrown in. It just got frustrating.”
He said the major focus for Saturday’s game against Missouri S&T will be on his team in two major areas.
“First, I’m really concerned about the longterm health of our football team,” he said as the Bears face games for 10 straight weeks. “We are really beat up in the offensive line and have several players with injuries on defense. We’ve got to make sure these players are keeping up with their rehab and staying in the weight room.”
Most of the players have what are termed nagging types of injuries and are listed as probable for Saturday night’s game at First Security Field at Estes Stadium.
Cornerback Anthony Gambles missed Saturday’s game with a turf toe, and that situation is day-to-day for this week. His backup, Henry Minor, has a back injury. UCA lost defensive lineman Taylor Scott to a lower leg injury on the first play Saturday, and he’s another player in the probable category this week. Two offensive linemen also left Saturday’s game with injuries, Will Merritt (neck) and Matt Dickerson (thumb). Wide receiver T.J. Adams is nursing an ankle injury.
Conque said the Bears played seven true freshmen Saturday and about 10 other redshirt freshmen and the coaches hope to play a lot of players this week against the NCAA Division II team.
The Bears had 10 penalties for 105 yards against Glenville State.
“That’s unacceptable and borderline ridiculous,” he said. “Four of the penalties on offense occurred before the ball was snapped. I told the players that first and 15 is a hard play call.”
The Bears had three turnovers (one fumble and two interceptions) against the Pioneers, and Conque said that for the first time in three games, his team was in double-digits in missed tackles.
“The missed tackles were a matter of running fast and getting contact ready and not reaching and grabbing and getting stuck in the mud, so to speak,” he said.
He said Glenville State was better than expected at the skill positions and “their offensive linemen had more athleticism than I anticipated.”
“In the last couple of years, they’ve played a lot of upper-level teams all over the country, so I knew they wouldn’t be intimidated,” Conque said. “But my job is to make sure we are mentally prepared to play every game and that didn’t get done this week.”
THE GOOD NEWS: The Bears had scoring drives of 74, 81 and 97 yards.
Quarterback Robbie Park passed for 358 yards, the 15th highest total by a quarterback in school history.
“There are about four plays that he’ll tell you he wants back, including when he overthrew T.J. Adams when he was wide open for a touchdown on a wheel route. But he was very efficient for the most part,” Conque said. “He gives is a good chance to win right now. For the most part, he was calm and steady.”
Brent Grimes became the 14th back in school history to rush for 2,000 yards in a career. He is 12 away from tying Kentrell Rogers with the most touchdowns in school history.
“I honestly considered Kentrell Rogers’ record one that might now be broken, then the next running back who comes through the program has a real shot at tying or breaking it if he stays healthy,” Conque said.
Conque said place-kicker Eddie Carmona returned to form after coming off an injury.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: On offense, the coaches selected Grimes, who rushed for 57 yards and had 97 more on seven receptions. Derrick Boyd got the honor on defense and Carmona on the special teams.
Safety Pieri Feazell got the “Big Stick” citation for two plays on the goal line that denied Glenville State a touchdown.
“They hit a quick slant and Pieri turned the receiver back at the 1,” Conque said. “On the next play, he played off a block on an option, made the tackle, stripped the ball and up went out of the end zone. Instead of starting on the 1, we started on the 20.”
‘GOOD NIGHT’ MCKNIGHT: Fullback Chris McKnight of Mayflower has put two players out of the games on successive weeks with hard hits.
NATHAN DICK: Conque said he’s trying to grasp the complexities of the offense.
“We have to make sure when he needs to come in and play that he understands the basic concepts,” Conque said. “There will be a point that we’ll need to play him and we have to get him ready.”
THE SOUTHLAND: “There are some scary teams out there,” Conque said after the first four weeks of play. “(Stephen F. Austin) has as nice a collection of skill players as any in the league. McNeese State has another strong team that took Tulane deep in the game last week. Southeastern Louisiana has good athletes. Texas State was fairly competitive against TCU, and it’s hard to get a good read on Nicholls State right now. Northwestern State has by far played to toughest schedule. They are 0-4, but now they have two weeks to prepare for us.
“I think it’s wide open. When you get into conference play, we all know each other pretty good and we know our personnel. So things tend to go back to center pretty good. We were 6-1 last year, but five of our seven conference games were decided by eight points or less.”