Colorado University won one football game last season.
With a new coaching staff that revived the San Jose State program, the Buffaloes equaled that win total Sunday with a 41-27 victory over Colorado State.
“It’s a different culture there now,” University of Central Arkansas coach Clint Conque said at Tuesday’s Bearbacker luncheon. “It’s a different scheme. They’ve got a couple of key players back who were injured last season. It’s a huge challenge, but our players are looking forward to it.
... “And after last week (eight Football Championship Subdivision teams defeat Football Bowl Subdivision opponents), I don’t think we will sneak up on anybody.”
Conque said the Bears will leave Thursday morning for Colorado and will take 62 players.
Boulder’s elevation is more than 5,400 feet.
“We’re going a day early and we’ll have oxygen available but every player handles altitude a little differently,” Conque said. “I think we are in pretty good condition. If you really wanted to get acclimated, you’d have to leave two weeks early.
“But the word about our place this week is hydration and it’s already started. The dry air at that altitude can drain you pretty quickly. Water contains oxygen and you need to keep oxygen in the body.”
He said the staff and players are looking forward to the second straight year UCA has played a team from a major BCS conference (Ole Miss last season).
“For a few weeks, the buzz about town, the campus and community has been ‘Colorado, Colorado, Colorado;’; It’s here,” said Conque. “I think FCS football built up itself very well last week. We have a great opportunity to continue to elevate the identity of our subdivision.”
In Thursday’s 58-7 season-opening victory over the University of Incarnate Word, Conque said he was pleased with several newcomers to the Bears’ lineup.
UCA started four true freshman and one of them Jatavious Wilson two touchdown passes and had a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Junior Blake Veasley and sophomore Danzel Williams combined for 135 yards rushing in carrying the backfield load with junior Willie Matthews serving a one-game disciplinary suspension.
Conque said an unsung hero was redshirt freshman receiver Desmond Smith, who had four catches for 77 yards and scored a touchdown after a recovery of a blocked punt in the end zone.
“Desmond Smith (from Bentonville) was a pleasant surprise,” Conque said. “He is gonna be a good player here,”
Conque also noted that sophomore Blake Gardner had two receptions last season. He had 10 for 61 yards against Incarnate Word.
The coach had further praise for Wilson, who was the Southland Conference Special Teams Player of the Week.
“He’s a tremendous young man, a smart student and one heck of a football player,” Conque said. “If he hadn’t dropped one sure touchdown pass and he got stopped 1 yard short of the goal, he might have had five TD’s in his first game. I’m not ready to ordain him national player of the year, but he can make you miss him in a phone booth.”
Against UIW, the UCA coaches played 60 of the 72 players who were dressed out. Conque said eight of the player were only going to play if there was an emergency. The only significant injury was to defensive back Haywood Jeffries, whose shoulder injury will cause him to miss about two games.
“It was a very business-like, efficient and workmanlike effort on our part and we came out relatively injury free,” Conque said. “And it’s not every game that you can block a punt for a touchdown and return a kickoff for another.”