The frivolous burning question began circulating in the University of Central Arkansas press box early.
Did former running back Ricky Williams, the former Heisman Trophy winner who is an assistant coach for Incarnate Word, have any eligibility left?
It was about the only chance the Cardinals had to make somewhat of a fight of it.
The Cardinals, fresh out of NCAA Division II (where they had not won more than three games in each of the last three seasons of the fifth-year program) were clearly outmanned.
And the Bears came out as a well-prepared and well-oiled machine, as efficient offensively and defensively, in recent history. The 58-7 victory was no surprise.
The Bears punted only twice and scored on every other possession except two, which they lost via fumble. They had 523 yards of offense, held Incarnate Word to 231 and were 10 of 14 on third down, one of one on fourth down. Quarterback Wynrick Smothers was 27 of 31 for 267 yards and a touchdown before he left the game after UCA’s first possession of the third quarter. He completed passes to 10 different receivers.
What was surprising was some of the other folks doing the damage.
Sophomore running back Blake Veasley, a transfer from the University of Memphis, rushed for 85 yards in replacing suspended Willie Matthews in the starting role. He was the catalyst on the Bears’ first two touchdown drives, scoring on both of them.
Oklahoma transfer Danzel Williams, the No. 3 back, scored twice.
Sophomore receiver Blake Gardner caught 10 passes.
Freshman Jatavious Wilson, just as quick but more acceleration ability perhaps than the departed Jesse Grandy, was an all-purpose wizard, gaining 105 yards on four receptions and returning a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.
But all was not glitter. The Bears fumbled two punts and muffed another. Eddie Camara missed an extra point although he booted a 42-yard field goal after a 37-yarder was wiped out by penalty.
The Bears had things so comfortably in control that UCA broadcaster Steve Sullivan turned his duties partially over to Gov. Mike Beebe for a series, allowing him to make the call, “Touchdown, UCA!”
It was almost the perfect opener: A crowd in excess of 10,000. Lots of players getting a chance to play. Newcomers able to make an impact and gain confidene. Dominating victory. Lots of big plays but enough gaffes to humble many of the players. Enough reasons to continue to practice.
The Bears were able to win easily and convincingly with very vanilla stuff. They could show nothing to Colorado that they didn’t want to.
They now have a week of rest before taking on the Pac-12 Buffaloes, who play in-state rival Colorado State on Sunday.
Many in these parts believe that the Bears have a good enough team to defeat Colorado, on paper one of the worst teams in America in a BCS conference that is finding its way under a new coaching staff.
Be careful about jumping to conclusions based on what happened against Incarnate Word. It’s Cardinals to Buffaloes, not apples to apples.
Colorado has players recruited for BCS play and it has more of them than UCA. Depth is one major factor when Football Championship Subdivision teams meet Football Bowl Championship teams.
But there is enough to reinforce UCA fans’ hopes for that game and the season.
It’s best for UCA fans to bask in the excitement of a dominating victory while waiting for the mysteries of this season to unfold.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @dmaclcd)