UAM wants to put last year behind them

MONTICELLO — It takes a lot of patience when trying to rebuild a program — especially at the Division II level. But head coach Hud Jackson knows that it could pay off in the long run.

“It is an exciting feeling that we have right now because how of much our kids have bought in to turn this thing around,” Jackson said.

Even though the Boll Weevils have 114 guys on the roster, only eight of them are seniors and Jackson said that “has a lot do with the process that we are in right now.”

“Our junior class is really big and our sophomore class is really big,” Jackson said. “It is a good problem to have because those guys that are young have gotten some experience.

“That is going to be a big part of what we do down the road.”

After finishing fourth in the 2011 GAC standings, season-ending injuries in the second week of the season haunted the Weevils last year and they fell to 1-10. UAM’s only win was a 78-0 route over College of Faith to begin the season.

“We want to improve on where our season went last year,” Jackson said. “When you go 1-10 there is a lot of room for improvement.

“Our biggest goal for this season is we want to win more games.”

Last fall, UAM lost three of its quarterbacks to injury before Week 2 and all of them were freak accidents.

“They were non-contact injuries,” Jackson said. “One of them blew out his knee on a drop back and one guy broke his ankle making a run against Northwestern Oklahoma State in the middle of the field when no one was around him.”

The other had nerve damage in his throwing shoulder.

“You are just hoping you don’t get bitten by the injury bug,” Jackson said. “That is basically what it comes down to.”

Jackson said UAM spent a good chunk of the offseason working on getting stronger and improving its overall conditioning to try to prevent injuries.

“The bottom line is we got to stay healthy,” Jackson said. “Obviously, it wasn’t a good situation.

“I think it is always something that is a little unnerving as a head coach.”

UAM reported almost a week after most schools had already begun practicing, but Jackson said it has helped the team be more focused as the season approaches.

“At the Division II level, you have to be very detailed because you don’t have much time,” Jackson said. “So you have to be organized so you can cover everything you can cover.

“The main thing that we got to do is follow the plan that we put in place and follow it to the ‘T’. If we do that as coaches, then our players are going to benefit.”

Returning for the Weevils this season is sophomore running back Nick Williams who rushed for 266 yards and six touchdowns on 68 carries in 2012.

“Having the less practices can be more productive if we are doing a good job as coaches,” Jackson said. “From the beginning we are going to have be very organized.”

Senior wide receiver Jamal Nixon led UAM last year with 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns. Junior Ian Levin ranked third on the team with 31 receptions for 237 yards.

The Weevils will open the season on Sept. 7 at East Central Oklahoma beginning at 6 p.m.