CONWAY, Ark. _ The University of Central Arkansas Bears closed out fall camp with a 90-play scrimmage on Saturday, one that head coach Clint Conque said was much more evenly contested than the first one last weekend.
"We scored five touchdowns this time, and our defense played fast and physical again,' he said. "It was a good day of work. We had all six phases of our kicking game live, so we'll have quite a bit of good quality video from this session.
"It was a much more brisk, crisp session than last week. There were still a few too many missed assignments on both sides of the ball, but we'll work on that.'
Senior quarterback Wynrick Smothers threw touchdown passes to juniors Dezmin Lewis and Clay Murphy and to freshman Jatavious Wilson. Freshman Hayden Hildebrand also had a touchdown pass to fellow freshman Roman Gordan. Smothers completed 18 of 25 for 243 yards.
"In the open field part, I thought the offense started slow but finished fast,' said Conque. "We had three long drives and scored five times. When (junior running back) Willie Matthews was in there, it was a different tempo for the first group. Danzel Williams, Kelton Warren and Jeff Andersonn are going to be good backs for us, but they are just still trying to get a command of the offense, both in the run game and pass game.
"Blake Veasley had a fantastic run for about 25 yards but then fumbled. That was very disappointing. He's struggled with that throughout camp, and his reps have decreased because of it. It's a mental, confidence thing that he has to overcome, and we'll keep working with him.'
Conque also praised true freshman receiver Jatavious Wilson, a 5-foot-9, 171-pounder from Bastrop, La.
"We cut him loose a couple of times in the open field today,' Conque said, "and you could just see the dynamic ability that young man has. He's definitely going to be a part of our plan moving forward with our wide receiving corps.'
The UCA defense, which has shined throughout fall camp, had its moments again Saturday.
"I continue to be impressed with the defensive first group, just how fast and physical they are playing,' Conque said. "We did miss a couple more tackles this week, which is a concern. Because for most of our front-line guys, the next live work they will do will be on Aug. 29 in the opener. We have to clean that up in practice.'
Conque also mentioned several costly penalties that the defense incurred that kept drives alive for the offense.
"I thought (senior linebacker Justin) Heard played fantastic today,' said Conque. "He showed a lot of speed, tackled well and was patient on the run game. (Sophomore DE Jonathan) Woodard, the sky is the limit for that guy. We just have to get him playing hard and playing fast on every snap. But he definitely showed a lot of power.'
With school beginning this week, the Bears will close out fall camp with a trip to Wild River Country water park on Sunday afternoon before installing the game plan for Incarnate Word with a pair of practices on Monday. The Bears will be off on Thursday for the first day of classes.
Steve East: Sports Information