One of the major goals of the University of Central Arkansas’ second scrimmage of the season Saturday was to not lose any players to injury.
Running back Jackie Hinton, who has had an exceptional preseason camp, was helped off the field with a leg or ankle injury on the fifth play. Transfer wide receiver Al Lasker, competing hard for a spot on the depth chart, limped off a short time later. Neither injury appeared serious but the extent is uncertain depending on further evaluation by the training staff.
The Bears went through a 100-play scrimmage with few scores or long plays.
"The energy on offense defused a bit after those injuries, both on the sideline and on the field," UCA coach Clint Conque said. "We lost our sense of urgency on the sidelines. The defense did a good job disguising its blitzes."
It was the 19th workout of preseason for the Bears and the scrimmage, in hot temperatures, was generally sluggish.
"We’ve been inconsistent," Conque said. "In Friday’s practice, the offense dominated in practice; today, the defense had a good day ... We’ve got camp legs right now. Everybody is tired, but it’s hot everywhere."
Linebackers Frank Newsome and Seth Allison and freshman linebacker Zach Bush sparked the defensive effort. Josh Jones returned an interception for a touchdown.
The most outstanding efforts from the offense came from receivers T.J. Adams, Dominique Croom (who caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Dick), freshman Dezmin Lewis and sophomore Jesse Grandy. Running backs Anthony Blackmon and Terence Bobo had some strong moments in place of Hinton.
"T.J., Croom and Lewis had very good days; Grandy had an extraordinary good day," Conque said. "Grandy a slightly built, shifty, change-of-direction type of guy. He is very difficult to hit and is deceptively fast."
Making the greatest improvement was placekicker Eddie Carmara, who didn’t miss a kick all week until the last part of Saturday’s two-minute drill. Conque said the transfer from Arkansas has won that job.
"As abysmal as our placekicking was in the scrimmage last week, our punting was bad today," Conque said.
Defensive back Jestin Love, linemen Larry Duvall and Markeith Gaines, fullback Jerrell McKnight and tight end Brennan Rushing. All projected frontline players, were held out of the scrimmage with injuries. Defensive back Desmond Wilcox sustained an eye injury during the scrimmage.
"The depth chart will shift; it always does at this stage," Conque said.
The Bears have a short scrimmage Wednesday night as part of Welcome Week activities. Conque said it will be primarily a freshman scrimmage and no frontline players will participate.