The University of Central Arkansas Bears had a good second scrimmage Saturday morning —no turnovers.
Coach Steve Campbell gave the team the rest of the weekend off to loud cheers.
Being able to do that is partly the advantage of starting a week earlier and spreading the practice schedule out with no two-a-days and that classes don’t begin for another 10 days.
The Bears have a bonus week to polish things.
“Normally at this time, we would break camp (for the start of school),” Campbell said. “I like this setup because the younger guys have shown they are good players and now we’ve got time to keep working with them and keep teaching. You’ve got walk-through time and time to go through what they need to know once the season starts … Back in the day, you would flip the switch now and start getting ready for Kansas State (season opener Sept. 12). We’re still three weeks away from Kansas State.
“We haven’t had to grind all day, every day. It has helped the guys be fresher, healthier and have a little more juice and energy. For two weeks into camp, I thought we had good energy today.”
Normally, the UCA players would watch film Sunday in preparations for two-a-days Monday.
“Now, we can watch this film Monday while giving the players a break and time to refresh to give them a little more push to finish camp.”
Unlike the first scrimmage last week, the Bears displayed big-play capability in the air and on the ground, highlighted by Dylan Smith’s 69-yard touchdown burst up the middle. Kierre Crossley rushed for 61 yards on nine carries, including breaking a tackle on a 35-yard scoring run on fourth down, one of his two touchdowns. Carlos Blackman rushed for 51 yards on seven carries and two touchdowns, including a plowing run to conclude the scrimmage. Freshman Kevin Monimhan rushed for 39 yards and two touchdowns.
The four quarterbacks, Hayden Hildebrand, Breylin Smith, Kirk Baugh and Kolt Barfield, were a combined 14 of 18 fpr 221 yards amd four touchdowns. Hildebrand was six of eight for 81 yards and three TD’s. Smith was three of four for 64 yards and one touchdown.
“We did a better job with our running game on the perimeter,” Campbell said. “We’re getting the ball outside where we’ve been so inside-gap conscious.”
Freshman Brandon Myers had 70 yards in receptions, including an over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone on a nicely placed ball by Breylin Smith.
Brandon Cox caught two passes for 34 yards and a touchdown and added 44 yards rushing, sparking one touchdown drive. Jakari Dillard and freshman Lujuan Winningham also caught TD passes.
“Brandon Myers showed up in the last scrimmage and he’s shown up in practice making plays,” said Campbell. “You say, ‘there’s a play, can he do it again.’ And he does it again. Now, you’re seeing it enough to realize that kid is a bigtime playmaker … He’s made a quick transition from high school and now you start thinking we need to get him ready to play.p
“Brandon Cox had a good day, kind of jump-started us early offensively. He ran the ball well on a couple of plays.”
The defense also had it moments.
“Chris Chambers (end) shows up every time,” Campbell said. “At times, he can take over. He’s hard to block coming off that edge. I like our pass rush with Chambers, Eric Jackson and Chris Terrell. We played tough on the goal line and inside-run defense. We still have to shore up some things. I think our safety play is strong and we tackled well.”
UCA scrimmages for the final time Saturday.