UCA linebacker Seth Allison will certainly not be a stranger to the territory or ASU Stadium when the Bears take on Arkansas State on Saturday night in a historic matchup of two of the state’s NCAA Division I teams that will be televised statewide.
It adds a dramatic element.
"I grew up going to that stadium and watching ASU football and cheering for their teams," said Allison, whose parents live in Jonesboro and his father is a regular on a sports talk show there. "But I must admit I have a chip on my shoulder because they (the ASU staff) didn’t recruit me. My brother played baseball for them. My Dad played football for them and Mom played basketball for ASU. I want to have a good game.
"Beyond that, it’s a great opportunity for us to play a bigtime opponent and getting the chance to show folks what we are as a Division I football program."
The gamesmanship between Allison and some Jonesboro folks began awhile ago.
"Derek Lawson, one of their running backs, played at Nettleton and is a friend of mine and we keep in touch," he said. "We’ve texted each other, getting on each other a little bit."
Not many folks recruited Allison, who played his senior season at Stuttgart, where his brother was an assistant on Bobby Bolding’s staff.
His path to UCA was circuitous.
His sister, Rachel, played basketball at Baylor for Kim Mulkey, a friend of Conque since the days they were colleagues on Louisiana Tech’s athletic staff. Mulkey furnished Conque a glowing recommendation concerning the family and the work ethic of Rachel Allison (who just finished a pro basketball season in Australia) and Conque allowed Seth to walk on, redshirting him in 2008.
"Now, he’s a starter," Conque said. "He’s so intelligent. The problem sometimes with him is he tries to be everywhere and sometimes he just needs to concentrate on what he does and let everyone else do their job."
Allison seemingly was all of the field in Saturday’s loss to Sam Houston State, recording 16 tackles, 12 unassisted. Once, he ran downfield to make a tackle after he lost his helmet.
"I made many mistakes in that game," he said. "I really didn’t have as good of game as the stat sheet showed. But stats don’t mean much anyway if you lose the game."
"We were coming off a big-game atmosphere at Louisiana Tech (a 42-35 loss)," he said. "Sam Houston came out and got more than 300 yards rushing against us. I thought we were pysched up to play, but they cam right out and hit us in the mouth and we didn’t hit back."
The Bears will literally have to pick up the pace Saturday against ASU.
"ASU will get on the ball and get the play off quicker than most any team you’ll see," Allison said. "It’s an Oregon-type pace. We’ll be watching film and sometimes the play is halfway over because they snap the ball so fast. We’ve got to know our checks and assignments really fast"
Allison, a junior in eligibility but who has already graduated and is currently doing graduate work toward a masters in business administration, said the game is also a test of pride for the UCA defense.
"We have not played UCA defense all year," he said. "Sam Houston came out and ran the ball down out throats (a 31-10 victory). We’re used to having the best scoring defense in the conference and not giving up more than 21 points. We’ve got to get some stops. It’s a matter of us all coming together and playing ‘UCA defense.’"