Even though he has the returning offensive player of the year in the Southland Conference, University of Central Arkansas football coach Clint Conque has done the math on the other end and there are gaps in the equation.
Wide receivers Dominque Croom and Jesse Grandy, who combined for 260 receptions last season, have used up their eligibility.
Dezmin Lewis is the leading returning receiver with 56 catches.
“But the rest of our receivers have 20 catches combined for their career,” Conque said during Monday’s weekly Bearbacker luncheon. “The good thing is we’re not without talent, speed and want-to.”
Conque noted that he was pleased with his entire group of recruits after preseason camp.
“Every scholarship player we signed not only has a future here but an exciting future,” Conque said. “And I couldn’t always say that.”
The Bears open their season at 7 p.m. Thursday against the University of Incarnate Word at First Security Field at Estes Stadium.
The Bears will into the opener with a defensive that has performed at a high level throughout the spring and preseason. About 16 defensive players have started games at one time or another.
“There is a lot of confidence and a lot of passion.” Conque said. “The experience has allowed our defensive staff to implement things at a faster rate.”
The offense will be built around the talents of Wynrick Smothers, a fifth-year senior quarterback who was the Southland Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year last season.
“I feel like we have as good a quarterback on this level (NCAA FCS) as anybody in the country,” Conque said. “We have a lot of good football players on offense but there are a lot more moving parts on that side to get into sync. We have to see which guys can make plays under pressure.”
Conque said the Bears emerged from preseason camp relatively injury-free. He said four true freshmen, wide receiver Jatavious Wilson, offensive lineman Bryan Manley and defensive linemen Terence Partee and Jordan Tolliver will play in the season opener.