MONTICELLO — The first play of the second scrimmage of the spring season for the Arkansas-Monticello football team had the flair every offense wants.
From its own 5-yard line, quarterback Tyler Copeland hit running back Blake Prince in the middle of the field at the 40-yard line. Prince then made his way to the left sideline to avoid the defensive backs, which he got by and completed the 95-yard touchdown.
However, it was the first and last touchdown the Weevils’ offense would score in the 17-possession, 77-play scrimmage on Friday.
“We struggled a little bit today,” said Copeland, who was held out of the first scrimmage on March 31 because of a case of strep throat. “We will get back to the drawing board, watch some film and get it fixed.”
The offense only added a field goal for the rest of the scrimmage. Injuries and illness played a factor in the offensive struggles.
Quarterback Hunter Leppert and Joevall Hoseay were shut down for the spring as they recover from knee injuries before spring practice started. Leppert and Hoseay both played on March 31, but Leppert was not cleared for contact after tearing his ACL during the fall season. Hoseay suffered a major knee injury last spring.
“We let them get half a spring in and for both of them, it’s still tender and we just wanted to get them to the fall,” UAM coach Hud Jackson said. “They are doing therapy now and it’s more intense now, and we just didn’t want to take any chances.”
Other players besides Leppert and Hoseay are injured, and a case of strep throat has been making its way through the Weevils’ roster.
“We’ve had five or six kids this spring that have had strep throat that have come back from that and it takes a lot out of you,” Jackson said. “Some of these guys think they are invincible and think they can work through it, and their bodies have had enough.”
The offense especially struggled on third downs. Out of the 15 plays the Weevils ran on third down, they converted just three of them. All three of the conversions were on pass interferences, too.
“Today on third down, it was a struggle,” Jackson said. “We have to convert those. That’s where the points come from. If we convert one of those third downs to get into the red zone or when we are in the red zone, we may win one or two more games.
Center Christian Dragna played every snap on offense and Jackson was pleased with the sophomore’s play, but he was not as happy with the rest of the offensive line.
“Our defensive line did a good job of getting a lot of pressure,” he said. “We are just trying some different schemes and different splits, and it’s been a work in progress.
“We knew coming into spring it would be a little bit tougher because we have some issues with experience.”
It was the last scrimmage of the spring season. UAM’s spring game is at 7 p.m. on April 13 at Convoy Leslie-Cotton Boll Stadium.