The University of Central Arkansas Bears will try to break a losing streak and find an identity Saturday night at Springfield, Mo.
The Bears, who have lost back-to-back games against Colorado and UT-Martin, will take on the winless Missouri State Bears of the Missouri Valley Conference.
In both the losses, the Bears had a chance to win in the fourth quarter and fell victim to self-inflicted mistakes.
UCA coach Clint Conque would prefer to see his team play like in the second half of the UT-Martin game, in which they had a last-second field goal blocked in a 24-23 loss, rather than in a listless first half in which they trailed, 14-0.
“We played the second half with focus and energy,” Conque said. “When we do that for 60 minutes, we have a chance to be a pretty good football team. We decided to play our brand of football the second half. But if you live on the edge of a cliff enough like we have, you are going to fall off.”
One area of concern is the Bears’ running game, which has not been effective the last two games. They will get Oklahoma transfer Danzel Williams, who was held out of the UT Martin game because of injury.
“Our receivers played phenomenal against UT-Martin, but we don’t want to throw the ball 52 times a game; we really don’t,” Conque said. “But that may be the identity of this football team. We don’t have the 200-pound backs we had a year ago.”
Missouri State lost its season opener to Northwestern State of the Southland Conference, 23-17, then lost to Iowa, 28-14; and to Murray State, 41-38, on the last play of the game.
“You don’t have to look much further than how they played Iowa to realize Missouri State is a pretty good football team despite their record,” said UCA coach Clint Conque. “They are similar to Sam Houston State and McNeese State in our conference as to how they run the football and play-action off it.”
Missouri State had 572 yards (336 rushing of offense against Murray State. Running back Vernon Scott rushed for 201 yards.
“They are a big, physical, typical Midwest football team,” Conque said. “They are the most physical team to date, including Colorado.”