Saturday night, the University of Central Arkansas Bears will be playing their sixth football game and their third in Southland Conference play.
Nicholls State, which had one game postponed by Hurricane Isaac, will be playing its fourth and the game against the Bears will be the Colonels’ SLC opener.
The Colonels will be playing the Bears after an open playing date, the first of two straight opponents UCA will face coming off an open date. Nicholls State’s open date was on the front of its conference schedule and will now play seven straight weeks. UCA’s open is on the final week of SLC play.
“We’re beat up a little with all kinds of those knicks, bumps and bruises you get when you play five straight games,” said UCA coach Clint Conque. “But we should be in as good a shape as we can be physically. We lift four days a week but we are not going to get significantly stronger until the offseason. This is the stage that you are who you are and you cut back a little of the practice schedule and the contact to make it through the season.”
“We used the open week to work on fundamentals that were getting away from us,” said NSU coach Charlie Stubbs, who is entering his third season. “We had a chance to get some bumps and bruises healed. We needed to pratice wisely during the week.
“Sometimes a bye week hurts you by getting you off rhythm, but I don’t mind playing seven games in a row.”
The Bears are coming off a loss to Stephen F. Austin that places their backs against the wall early in the conference race.
The Colonels were picked near or at the bottom in preseason. However, Conque remembers a 37-31 victory last year in Thibodaux in which the Bears had to make a goal-line stand in the last minute to survive.
“I’ve seen their improvement from year to year under coach Stubbs,” Conque said. “I have been impressed with their offensive line and how they have improved in their run game along with a nicely controlled passing game. Their defense is very feisty.
“We’ve been to Thibodaux two years in a row. I’m happy to get them in Conway.”