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UCA Bears make most of second scrimmage

Steve Campbell (KATV Photo).jpg

UCA head coach coach Steve Campbell saw enough from both his offense and defense Saturday morning to call the Bears’ second scrimmage of fall camp a success. And he’s already looking ahead to one more week of no distractions before classes begin, what he called a bonus week.

“All in all, I was pleased,’ said Campbell, going through his fourth fall camp with the program. “It was a good second scrimmage. And the thing with us is, normally this finishes up camp. But the way we’ve structured it, we’ve got one more week before school starts. I like this setup. Because there are some young guys who have shown they are going to be good players. Now we’ve got time to keep teaching them, we have walk-through time, time to keep going over the things they are going to need to know once the season starts.

“Take some of those young guys and get them ready maybe a little earlier that what you used to. Because back in the day, you’d flip the switch now and start getting ready for Kansas State. And we’re still three weeks away from Kansas State. And we’ve been able to spread it out a little bit. We haven’t had to grind all day, every day. And I think that has helped. It think it has helped keep our guys a little fresher, a little healthier, with a little more juice and energy. I thought they had good energy today, for two weeks into camp. I thought they competed well. There were a lot of good things on both sides today.’

The Bears’ offense looked solid again, as it did the previous Saturday. Four quarterbacks combined to complete 14 of 18 passes for 221 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed 13 times for 23 yards. Senior Hayden Hildebrand was 6 for 6 for 81 yards and three scores. Redshirt freshman Breylin Smith went 3 for 4 for 64 yards and a touchdown, while junior Kirk Baugh went 2 for 4 for 26 yards and sophomore Kolt Harfield was 3 for 4 for 50 yards.

The Bears put an emphasis on the running game Saturday, a week after struggling somewhat in that area. Sophomore starter Carlos Blackman had 51 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries, while redshirt freshman Kierre Crossley had 61 yards and a pair of scores on nine attempts. Junior transfer Kevin Momnohin scored twice and had 39 yards on 10 attempts, while Dylan Smith (3 for 69, 1 TD) and receiver Brandon Cox (3 for 44) did their part in the running game as well.

“The 1s and 2s had zero turnovers, so that’s something I’m very pleased with this time of year,’ said Campbell. “I thought we ran the ball a lot better this week than we did a week ago. Crossley, I thought, ran the ball well. He had a couple of good runs. I thought Brandon Cox had a good day. He kind of jump started us early, offensively, on a play. I thought he ran the ball well. Dylan had a big, explosive run for us. I’m proud to see him keep getting better. He’s a tremendously hard worker and a very valuable asset to the program.

“We’re getting the ball on the perimeter better, we getting the ball on the outside in the run game. We’ve been so inside-gap conscience... we’re getting the ball on the perimeter now and that’s been a big plus for us.’

Campbell singled out true freshman Brandon Myers, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound receiver from Plant City, Fla., as a young player to watch. Myers had two catches for 70 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Freshman Lujuan Winningham aded two catches for 53 yards and a touchdown, while Jakari Dillard and Cox also caught touchdown passes.

“I thought Brandon Myers... he showed up in the last scrimmage,’ Campbell said. “And he’s shown up during practice, just making plays. And you go, well, there’s a play. Can you do it again. Then he does it again and you go, well, he’s pretty good. But now you’re starting to see it enough to where you realize that kid is a big-time playmaker.

“Everybody is a playmaker in high school. Some guys, it may take them a little bit to transition before they can start making those kind of plays at this level. But some guys make plays in high school, and Day 1 they start making plays here. It appears that he’s going to be, from what I’ve seen so far, he’s made a quick transition. He’s made some plays, more than one, where you say, we need to get him ready to play.

The defense also has some playmakers, according to Campbell.

“Defensively, I thought we did some good things,’ he said. “We gave up a ball or two that we can’t give up, but I was pleased. (Senior end) Chris Chambers, he shows up every time. Nobody plays harder than Chris. But there are times when he can take over and he’s hard to block man, coming off that edge. I like our pass rush, I think we have good pass rushers. With Chambers, Eric Jackson, Chris Terrell... Chris Terrell is a really good player. (Senior rover) George (Odum) didn’t show up a lot today but our plan was to not play him a whole lot. We didn’t hardly throw it over on (senior cornerback) Tre’s (Smith) side.

“I thought they played tough on the goal line. We got it in, but it could have gone either way. I thought they played really good inside run defense. We got a thing or two on the perimeter. We still have to shore up some things, but I think our safety play is strong. I thought we tackled well. I think Bubba (Javian Williams) played good at nose. Chambers and Terrell are really good players. Eric Jackson is still coming on, he’s stepping into some new shoes, and he’s very capable of making a lot of big plays.

“Linebacker play, he’s (defensive coordinator Greg Stewart) got good players there. Coach Stewart has got some guys who have played a lot. (Sophomore) Roy Sutton shows up to me. I know coach really likes him a lot. And (junior transfer) Reggio (Dean) is making an impact and is going to be a good player.

Campbell was pleased enough with Saturday’s body of work that he surprised the Bears with an unexpected Sunday off. They will resume practice Monday morning in preparation for their Sept. 2 season opener at Big 12 Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan.

--Courtesy UCA Athletics

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