After the action of the University of Central Arkansas’ spring game, the waiting game begins.
But not inaction.
The key element at many positions for the UCA Bears, who completed spring practice Friday night with the Purple-Gray game, is the progress the players make, physically, mentally and academically, during the time between spring ball and the beginning of preseason practice in August.
"We made improvement; we need to make more in a lot of areas," said UCA coach Clint Conque.
Here are position-by-position capsule summaries of where the Bears stand post-spring:
"I feel really good about the development at this point," Conque said. "I think our front seven is pretty good on defense. We don’t have the one dynamic NFL figure defensive end, but we seem to have more depth and we’re longer there. Justin Williams (noseguard) has become a dominant player. I’ve seen the young players grow."
Veterans Justin Heard, moved to middle linebacker, and Seth Allison, have been dominant players there through the spring. But several less-experienced players have come on strong to give UCA as deep a group as in several years. "I feel really good about the depth there," Conque said. "That’s why I really like our front seven."
It’s a concern. "This is where we have the majority of experience on defense but we have played with a lack of consistency all spring," said Conque. "We make plays and our technique is good at times. We have defended the run well but we’ve been exposed a bit in the passing game — too many plays over the top, too many big plays."
Junior Wynrick Smothers, coming off a hand injury, put some separation between himself and the other three quarterbacks.
"Our second scrimmage was as quality of scrimmage for a quarterback as I’ve ever seen," Conque said. "I can’t remember any quarterback completiing 20 of 25 passes for 355 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions. The question is can he be consistent?
"But all four quarterbacks improved, which shows me they are all competing. They all have done some good things. The question for them is can they close some of the separation by the time fall practice begins?"
That position will be a question mark going into preseason camp. Veteran Jackie Hinton missed the spring receovering from surgery. Willie Matthews was lost with a broken hand the seventh practice of the spring. Anthony Blackmon and Terence Bobo were steady but wore done. "Wes Foster is a great athlete and can be used at receiver and a lot of positions," Conque said. "He has some work to do in the classroom."
Another question mark as one of the least-experienced positions. "I’ve seen growth," Conque said. "The question is what these young linemen take from the spring and how they work during the summer. We’ve got to build chemistry. It’s a work in progress. The good thing is we identified our top seven or eight players. You would like to have 10 in the rotation, but eight is OK."
Oklahoma transfer Austin Haywood was pulled off the field early in the spring to concentrate of academics. "He’s an NFL-type tight end that gives us added size and athleticism there," Conque said. "With Thomas Hart and Chase Dixon, it gives us some good options at that position."
"I feel really good about 1-6 (Dominque Croom, Al Lasker, Dezmin Lewis, Jesse Grandy, Brett Soft and Clay Murphy)," Conque said. Blake Gardner and Damian Watts flashed at times," Conque said. "We hope to have a couple more to emerge for a good depth situation. We need to get better in technique."
Place-kicker Eddie Carmara and punter Kevin Buford have had strong springs. "We have some players on our return units who we think can make plays," Conque said. "I feel pretty good that our special teams can be a big positive for us."