The heat returned to the Pine Bluff area with temperatures above 90 degrees again.
Having the heat return is appropriate since it fits Pine Bluff football coach Bobby Bolding’s game-plan for tonight’s game against Bryant.
Bolding wants his team to put pressure on third-year starting quarterback Hayden Lessenberry.
“Heat. That’s how you rattle quarterbacks,” he said. “We’ve got to hit him and hit him often every chance you get.”
Bryant (2-1) joins the 7A/6A-South Conference after tying for first in the 7A/6A-Central last season. The Hornets’ only loss this season was to Conway to open the season.
“They are a tough 7A football team and have been very successful the last 10, 15 years,” Bolding said.
Pine Bluff is coming off a 23-17 win to open the conference season against Texarkana. The Razorbacks were able to pass for 240 yards on the Zebras, but that did not concern Bolding too much.
“If it had been rushing yards, it would have been a concern,” he said. “We gave up some yards on some plays, but we played some good red zone defense to hold them to 17 points.”
Pine Bluff running back Walter Ashley finished the game with 237 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.
“Walter just kept plugging,” Bolding said. “It was three yards here, 12 yards here then two yards here. Then the gains started getting bigger as we started to wear them down.”
Bryant ran into a little bit of trouble against Benton last week as the Hornets fell behind 14-0, but they were able to rebound and went on to win 55-14.
Bolding said he learned one thing from the Hornets’ game last week, and it was not the 14 points Benton put on the board right away.
“They can score a lot of points in a short amount of time,” he said. “Benton schemed them up and got a couple of touchdowns, but then Bryant made some adjustments and it was over from there.”
Lessenberry competed 17 of 25 passes for 271 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s victory and has passed for almost 4,000 yards in his career. Last year, he passed for more than 2,000 yards.
“The thing that concerns me is he is a three-year starter at quarterback,” Bolding said. “So he is going to make minimal mistakes because he has played quarterback in that system for so long.”
Besides trying to put Lessenberry on his back, Bolding knows his defensive backfield is going to have stay disciplined from the start of the game to the very end.
“Their eyes are going to have to be right and be where we need to be to squeeze the routes because he is going to be on,” he said. “I have had three-year starters at quarterback and you feel confident with them doing anything in the playbook.”
Bolding said Bryant will try and move Lessenberry around in the pocket will roll-outs and bootlegs in order to minimize the amount of hits he takes. Plus, the Hornets employ a lot of movement in its offensive sets.
“They motion a lot and so we have to make sure we line up correctly and adjust,” Bolding said.
Offensively, Bolding feels the Zebras can stick to their regular game-plan.
“Just do what we do. Run the ball and use play action,” he said. “Take our shots over the top and that’s what we are doing right now. I would like to see our short passing game be better than what it has been.”
The game kicks off at 7 p.m. and is at Jordan Stadium.
Bryant (2-1) at Pine Bluff (3-1)
• 7 p.m. today at Jordan Stadium
• Radio: KTRN-FM 104.5
• 7A/6A-South Conference records: Both are 1-0
• Last week: Bryant def. Benton 55-21; Pine Bluff def. Texarkana 23-17