Two weeks into spring practices, the University of Central Arkansas Bears football team held their first scrimmage of spring.
One of the things coach Nathan Brown has been impressed with is his team’s defense.
“We have a lot of talent on defense,” he said. “We’re running to the football. We have a lot of size and speed over there and a lot of depth. We’re right where we need to be seven practices in on defense.”
That defense allowed just two touchdowns throughout the two-hour scrimmage.
Brown said the offense still has a little bit to go, but they were without some key offensive cogs.
“Offensively, we’re a little thin on the offensive line, so that’s showing up, especially in the second group,” Brown said. “With that being said, we’ve held Breylin [Smith] out of scrimmage situations just to get him fully healthy. Today, we held Carlos [Blackman] and Kierre [Crossley] out for most of the scrimmage at running back. So, that’s your top two running backs that didn’t scrimmage.”
Despite the offense not being where he would like, Brown does see some positives about the team as a whole.
“We’re doing a lot of good things on both sides of the ball,” he said. “One thing I do like about this team is they do not lack passion. They have a lot of passion for the game. They love each other. They’re gritty and they fight. They are all the things you look for in a championship team. I think we’ve got the makings of that. Are we there yet? No, not even close, but we’ve got the pieces in place to make a run if we handle our business and continue to grow as a team.” Brown continued to talk about some defensive players that he feels have stood out, including some mid-year transfers.
“I think up front, you look at Nathan Grant and Jeremiah Gray,” he said. “Those two guys are playing at a high level and Chris Terrell is playing at an all-American pace. Those newcomers on defense, the three linebackers DJ Reed, TJ Campbell and Malik Wilson are playing at a high level. I’m really pleased with how our corners and secondary are playing.”
Brown also credited some offensive players.
“I think Breylin coming back will help because he’ll be playing at a high level. I think our running backs right now are playing well with Carlos, Kierre, D’erek [Fernandez] and Cameron Myers. I’m very pleased with those guys. Our tight ends Jack Short and Sam Camargo are playing at a high level. Our upper tier guys that we expect to be playing well are doing that. We just have to bring some guys along that are maybe younger and don’t have the experience they don’t have.”
Brown also spoke about players that were injured toward the end of last season, including Smith.
“Those guys are progressing,” he said. “With Breylin’s situations and we’ve had a couple offseason surgeries that we’re trying to get fixed. Deandre Lamont, a freshman corner that could be helping us in the fall, we’re holding out of the spring. Isaiah Macklin is another guy that we are holding out. That is three or four guys on the sideline that are good football players that we’re holding out right now that should help us out when we get to summer and fall camp.”
The Bears have Spring Break off before getting back to the grind.
The next spring scrimmage starts at 9 a.m. March 30 before the Purple/Gray game at 2 p.m. April 6.