University of Central Arkansas coach Steve Campbell gave a formula for lessening the odds Saturday when the Bears open the season against the Big 12’s Texas Tech.
He noted that the Red Raiders averaged 90 plays a game last season but also was one of the nation’s leaders in turnovers.
“Turnovers will be huge,” said Campbell, UCA’s first-year coach, at Monday’s weekly Bearbacker luncheon. “The average game has 12 possessions. If you can force, say, three turnovers, that’s nine possessions. If your defense can hold them to field goals three times, that’s six possessions. If you can get a couple of stops, that’s four possessions and maybe hold them to 28 points or so — that gives you a better chance.
“Each possession is a key when you play a high-powered offense.”
He said what he considers UCA’s strength at this point (the receiving corps) matches up with against the Red Raiders.
“They have a young secondary, but that fits well with us,” he said. “With our experienced corps of wide receivers, we hope to take advantage of some of their youth.
“We’re looking forward to the game because Texas Tech presents a lot of things that we will see later in the year in our conference.”
He said the Bears, 7-5 a year ago, had no major injuries during preseason camp and should be close to full speed Saturday night.
He noted that Texas Tech was on a five-game losing streak when he accepted the UCA job last December.
“I was feeling pretty good about that open, then eight days later, they (the Red Raiders) beat the Pac-12 South champs by 14 (37-23) in the (Holiday) bowl game. That got my attention.
“Texas Tech has an outstanding football team. But there’s no other way you’d rather have it than to open with a great football team to find out exactly where you’re at.”
Campbell said that, among the UCA newcomers, these are likely to play early: Freshman tackle Aikeem Coleman from Hattiesburg, Miss., freshman cornerback Artez Williams of Greenwood, Miss., and freshman linebacker Dalvin Williams of Little Rock Central.
Veteran players who have made major progress in preseason camp are wide receiver Damian Watts and Clay Murphy and receivers Joe Carmical and Jacoby Walker.
“These guys are program guys who have a lot of leadership skills we can build around,” he said.
Campbell said the Bears have adjusted well to the switch from the 4-3 to 3-4 defense, which normally features a three-man front from a four-man front.
“Basically, you’re replacing a bigger guy in the line with a speed guy at linebacker,” he said. “It gets more athleticism on the field, which helps with the up-tempo, spread offenses nowadays. As an offensive coach, I didn’t enjoy like seeing a 3-4 defense as much as a 4-3.”
Because of the Labor Day holiday, next week’s Bearbacker luncheon will be at noon Tuesday instead of Monday.