Only the crazy wore flip-flops to the University of Central Arkansas' spring football game Saturday.

This was spring football disguised as winter.

The morning began with sleet. The sun later emerged from the raw atmosphere, but it was cold sunshine

I wore more layers of clothing than I have worn at a spring game.

It was colder than when the Bears played New Hampshire in a pretty cold playoff game last December.

It was at least Eastern Washington cold when the Bears played there in the NCAA FCS playoffs two years ago.

A good group of hardy fans watched the game wearing fleece, camo, ski caps and gloves and carrying large coffee jugs.

It's the kind of weather coach Nathan Brown is preparing his team to play in next year's playoffs.

But there are many temperature changes and personnel developments before that can  happen.

Brown sometimes saw the upside/downside on the same series. The UCA offense produced some big plays but was stopped by an aggressive defense four times in the red zone, turning the ball over twice there and three times overall.

"Great job by the defense," Brown said. "We can correct our offensive mistakes. Our third- and fourth-down packages are not all in so the offense was handcuffed."

As we thawed, ome other observations:

* The Bears, with a group of good backs, could get little going on the perimeter. Much of the reason is this UCA again has speed all over the field. If a back hesitated or stuttered, the posse arrived quickly. "We have speed on defense, maybe as good as anyone in the country on our level, and we have size and we can side to side. The holes close fast," said Brown.

* Backs Carlos Blackman, Cedric Battle and Kierre Crossley are dynamic, but it's going to be hard to keep true freshman Cameron Myers (brother of wide receiver Brandon) off the field. He has a bigtime look.

* There is going to be great competition with a good mix at wide receiver, especially when some quality recruits arrive in the fall.

* Breylin Smith seems to have the poise, the presence and the skill to take over at quarterback and Kirk Baugh is a plugger and strong competitor at backup. But keep our eye on redshirt freshman Luke Hales of Greenwood. He has a big upside.

* Several frontline players were held out or limited in the game recovering from injuries. Brown said the Bears came out of spring healthy with no players who should not be at full speed when late-summer drills begin.

* The biggest question mark is in the offensive line, where there will be  four new starters.

* It's a young team but one that should be exciting and pack a wallop.

Sports editor David McCollum can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @dmaclcd