In quick fashion Saturday morning, the University of Central Arkansas Bears wrapped up the end of the beginning of preseason.
Not counting the kicking game, UCA ran through an 80-play controlled scrimmage in an hour at First Security Field at Estes Stadium.
“We could have gone longer, but you ask ‘why go more?’” said UCA coach Steve Campbell. “I thought it might do more harm than good. To risk gettng a major injury just by going on was not worth it.”
The scrimmage marked the end of the camp phase of preseason.
“We flip the switch now,” Campbell said. “Now it’s more of a game week mentality. We will have some physical practices but the heavy contact park is over. We move from the generic to more specific, from general rules to specific assignments. From here on, our focus is on Texas Tech.”
The Bears open Aug. 30 against the Red Raiders in Lubbock.
On the final heavy-duty scrimmage of the preseason, the UCA offense started fast and efficient, A 35-yard pass from Taylor Reed to Dezmin Lewis began a smooth and quick 70-yard, six-play drive.
“I was pleased with the tempo. When we play fast, we’ve got a chance to be pretty good,” said Campbell. “It’s important that we play well on first down because it gives us a chance to play fast When you get behind the chains with second and nine or second and 12 or 16, there’s a tendency to slow down. That’s our whole deal — to keep the tempo going.”
Running back Willie Matthews scored on a 2-yard run. Ryan Howard passed 25-yards to fullback Blake Veasley for another score. Jatavious Wilson scored on a 25 yard sweep and Hayden Hildebrand connected with Jose Moore on a a 20-yard pass.
“It was good to see the offense come out like it did,” said Campbell. “In the early part of camp and in our last scrimmage, the defense came out and got the upper hand. Today, the offense fought back and played well.
“Overall, the execution was better. We got some big plays our skill guys and made some plays on our sweeps. The defense stiffened in the red zone but the converse of that is we have to finish drives offensively and score touchdowns.”
Jace Denker hit two field goals and just missed another when it hit the crossbar. Eddie Camara was held out with a leg injury.
Three frontline offensive linemen were also held out of contact work.
“But we had some freshmen step up and respond in the offensive line and you couldn’t tell much of a dropoff,” Campbell said.
There have been no major injuries.
“Health-wise, we’re in good shape,” Campbell said. “We came out of two weeks of camp with no surgeries needed. We’re pleased with that.”