One of Clint Conque’s goals for the University of Central Arkansas Bears’ first major scrimmage of the preseason was to gauge the temperature of his running game.
“We were a thermometer; we’d make a good play, then a bad play,” Conque said. “We want to be a thermostat, have a consistency about us.”
The Bears, seven practices into preseason camp, went through an 88-play scrimmage. Conque initially wanted to go 78 plays.
“The first couple of teams we play (Ole Miss and Murray State) are high-tempo teams and I wanted to go eight to 10 plays where we played fast ball with the defense,” Conque said.
The scrimmage was capped by the biggest play — a 98-yard return for a touchdown by Jestin Love after a fumble by quarterback Ryan Howard.
Offensive touchdowns were scored on a 65-yard touchdown pass from Wynrick Smothers to Dominique Croom, a 15-yard pass from Howard to Al Lasker, a 40-yard touchdown pass from Jacoby Walker to Damian Watts and a 10-yard pass from Smothers to Brett Soft.
Running back Jackie Hinton, coming off ankle surgery, was held to a 10-play, four-carry limit.
“But when he was in there, he ran very explosive, very strong, very physical,” Conque said. “We did some good things on defense, but we busted one coverage completely and got beat three times over the top for big plays.”
He said defensive end Markeith Gaines had a good day along with linebacker Justin Heard. He was pleased with the frontline receivers but said they needed improvement on perimeter blocking. He was disappointed in the play of the second-team offensive line.
Eddie Carmara booted a 45-yard field goal and Conque said punter Kevin Buford, “really bombed them today.”
Conque stopped the scrimmage at one point to admonish the offense after they hit a lackadaisical point in the middle of the scrimmage.
“What stuck out was our sense of urgency,” Conque said. “We practice a lot faster than we played in this scrimmage. It was calling plays, getting the signals and substitutions in.
“I had to chew their butts a little. I told them if somebody doesn’t light a fire, I’m going to do it., It’s a question of leadership. That’s what I’m looking for on offense.”
There were no major injuries.
The Bears will have another scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 18.
“The next seven days are critical,” Conque said. “Summer school is over. There are no more distractions. The next week is critical to building chemistry and continuity. We’ve got to get in game shape. I hope to see a big jump this week.
“I told the team the good news is we have 21 days until our first game. But the bad news is we have just 21 days until our first game.”