Clint Conque gave his supporters an historical perspective of what he described as a program win Saturday at Lamar.
“We won that game on tradition, expectation and the culture we have created over the years and what we’ve created in the Southland Conference over a period of time,” the University of Central Arkansas coach said at Monday’s weekly Bearbacker luncheon. “We won on sheer guts.”
The Bears were minus seven starters in the game, then lost tight end Chase Dixon to a broken leg in the third quarter.
“We feel as a team a large percentage of the time we can go on the road and be competitive in that type of game regardless of situation. As a program, that’s what we expect. We feel we can line up kids we have developed and recruited and win these types of games.”
The Bears scored what proved to be the winning touchdown with 2:53 left in the 26-24 victory on a pass from Ryan Howard, who made his first start in the p0lace of Wynrick Smothers, to Courtney Whitehead who made a catch between two defenders in the end zone.
“We’ve been challenging that bigt boy all year — with strong stuff,” said Conque of Whitehead, who became the go-to receiver after Dixon’s injury. “When you see that specialk talent and the possibility of blending that with other been and other elements, you push him. Batman needed a Robin and Sonny needed a Cher ... and I’m dating myself.
“It is awesome to see Courtney take a step when we really needed him to because he had the matchup. And I’m not gonna let up on pushing him. I’m have the responsibility to he program and him to push him to limits beyond where he can go.”
Howard was 20 opf 40 for 281 yards and three touchdowns. He was eight of nine for 122 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter.
“He responded and got into a rhythm the second half,” Conque said. “He’s has a high football IQ and he gets the ball out quickly and he has tremendous accuracy.”
Conque said the Bears have taken the redshirts off two more players because of the rising injury situation, wide receiver Jose Moore and running back Kelton Warren.
“We don’t take that kind of thing lightly but we need them,” said Conque. “The freshmen still have a redshirt year available somewhere down the line.”
Running back Willie Matthews did not make the trip to Beaumont, Texas, because a staph infection in hjis elbow. Starting running back Blake Veasley injured a thigh during the game and running back Danzel Williams, who has missed most of the season with an abdomen injury, reinjured it during the game. Jacoby Walker, who began the game as a short-yardage quarterback. finished as an H back/tight end.
Conque praised linebacker Justin Heard, who came off a three-game suspension to record 11 tackles, two for loss and half a sack. Defensive linemen Matthew Hornbuckle, Jake Partee and T.J. Randall combined for nine sacks. Conque said cornerback Marcus Peters was challenged nine times and “he stood tall eight of those nine times and the other was a 2-yard gain,” Conque said.
The Bears (4-3, 1-1) play high-powered Stephen F. Austin in their homecoming game Saturday afternoon. The Lumberjacks, who knocked off highly ranked Montana State early in the season, are averaging 358 yards rushing and 387 yards passing a game.
“Our defensive staff is in the meeting room now figuring what do we stop?” Conque said.