McCollum’s Column: Observations from UCA’s first scrimmage

The University of Central Arkansas went through a typically erratic first scrimmage Saturday — with flashes.

 

Despite dropped passes, missed connections and balls on the -ground, there were several hints at offensive fireworks potential.

“I’ve seen worse,” joked UCA coach Steve Campbell afterwards.

Some observations:

* The Bears have competition at all receiver positions in all sizes and varieties. They may not have marquee guys such as Desmond Smith or Jatavious Wilson, but it could be as deep a receiver corps in big-play ability in several years. The issue is most are inexperienced on the front line.

* Quarter Hayden Hildebrand is a clear leader and a steady hand, as a fifth-year senior should be. Redshirt freshman Breylin Smith has moved into the top backup role for the same reasons he became an all-stater at Conway High. He is a duel threat and has that “it” factor on the field. No doubt there will be some special packages for him.

* Ends Chris Chambers, Cardell Best and Chris Terrell are forces on the edge. They play like ends should in the 3-4 defense. “I think they are a good as anybody in our conference,” said Campbell.

* The linebackers, led by George Odum, are fast and play with an edge. Holes close fast and they can exert a lot of pressure on a quarterback.

*There is major competition in the secondary but it is a work in progress. “As long as we keep things in front of us, we should be OK,” said Campbell. “We got hurt last year when teams went over the top. We gave up too many deep balls Saturday.”

* The jury is out on the running game. Even with experienced offensive linemen, running games are often a work in progress at this stage of preseason. There is time to get in sync. Expect some major steps forward by the second scrimmage Saturday.

* The kicking game is strong.

“We’ve started a week earlier this year. Åt this time last season, we were just reporting, so we are ahead,” Campbell said. “We have a long ways to go before Sept. 2 (Kansas State). but I think we will get there.”

 

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