Know those thrill rides that take you right to the precipice of a cliff or great danger, then stop or head another direction just in time?
University of Central Arkansas coach Steve Campbell wants just that out of his players.
He wants full throttle, but a controlled full throttle — edgy but a controlled edgy.
The UCA players have T-shirts that say “Edge.”
“We want you to be on edge,” said Campbell. “We do get out there on the edge but every once in awhile we go over the edge.”
The UCA defense reflects the personality of coordinator Greg Stewart, who has the enthusiasm of a labrador retriever.
“Coach Stewart doesn’t have tremendous highs or tremendous lows; he has tremendous highs all the time,” Campbell said. “He is a fired-up individual. You can see those guys’ eyes. They play with an edge. He is definitely an intense individual. He’s always been like that. I played with him (at Troy) back in the day. He has always been an intense individual. Those guys really enjoy playing defense for him.”
The UCA coaches use some teaching moments and give extra conditioning to those who incur personal foul penalties. They don’t approve of the penalties, but they don’t discourage the attitude that sometimes causes them.
“Two of those penalties (against Southeastern Louisiana) were unacceptable,” Campbell said. “I really got onto the one (for knocking a helmet off) but that was just a playing hard deal. He got his hands to the face and knocked the guy’s helmet off during the play … We got onto him pretty good but if you watch the film, it wasn’t anything; it was just football. The other two (personal foul penalties) we talked again about edge.
“We told them don’t let that be just a slogan. We want you on edge. We want you ready to fight at the drop of a hat. That’s what it’s going to take. But don’t go over that edge. We’ve got to get their attention that you’ve got to stop when the whistle blows and turn around and go back the other way. You’ve got to be able to go at the drop of a hat and you’ve got to be able to stop at the drop of a hat.”
Hence, maybe an asterisk phrase on those T-shirts.
“Below those shirts that say edge, I need to put a line, ‘But not over the edge,’ Campbell said.