A key ingredient to Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s success during its first preseason camp scrimmage Saturday was missing.
“I wasn’t pleased in the physicality of it,” coach Monte Coleman said. “I need us to be a lot tougher, especially on the offensive line and the defensive line.”
It was the same problem Coleman had with the team’s spring game in April. The lack of physicality this time came just one week into preparations for the Aug. 31 season opener at Arkansas State.
“I want to beat people up,” Coleman said. “I really do. I didn’t see that today.
“Being it was the first week (of camp), it should pick up.”
After a slow start of its own, the offense found its groove and scored four times in a span of five drives. Quarterback Ben Anderson took snaps on 56 of 92 plays during the scrimmage and went 14 of 24 for 147 yards, tossing a touchdown pass each to Isiah Ferguson and Brandon Kensey.
“It was a scrimmage and they weren’t letting me run, so that took away half of my game,” said Anderson, who actually broke free for scrambles of 10 and 17 yards. “After a while, they loosened it up a little bit. I mean, two or three of those drives could have been extended if I could have run.”
The offense was forced to punt on each of its first three series, gaining one first down during the span. Anderson then went to work getting Kensey involved, and the senior transfer from Louisiana-Lafayette pulled down a 23-yard catch that led to a Tyler Strickland field goal.
“We’ve got to understand we have to start fast and finish strong,” offensive coordinator Eric Dooley said. “That’s our motto from day one.”
Kensey had four catches for 65 yards. His biggest of the day came on a 30-yard strike down the middle from Anderson for a score.
“Some of the things he showed me in high school, I’m starting to see,” said Dooley, who recruited Kensey while he was an assistant at Southern. “He’s not there yet, but I think he’s headed in that direction.”
Ferguson showed how valuable he is in short-field situations, scoring from 30 and 35 yards out on “go” routes. Brandon Duncan, the Golden Lions’ top reserve quarterback, was responsible for the latter strike and went 3 for 5 for 43 yards.
“I thought he played fair,” Coleman said of Duncan. “He’s got to keep coming. I still reserve the right to look at some film and get my evaluation from that and coach Dooley, but he did make some plays. Right now, he’s still our number-two quarterback.”
The defense produced only a few highlights, the biggest of which came on the final play as true freshman Jarvis Jackson intercepted classmate Joey Louis. Quarterbacks could not be hit, but the defense “sacked” them four times.
“There was actually quite a few guys that came through in practice, but I was a little disappointed in some of them,” Coleman said. “It’s our first (scrimmage), so they’ve got to get accustomed to the tempo. I’m not going to throw the baby out of the bathwater, but we’ve got to get better.”
Strickland was 2 for 3 in field goals and 3 for 4 in extra points during live action. … Freshman Marcus Terrell took over for Duncan at QB and completed 1 of 2 passes, a 38-yarder to classmate Braxton Hoof. SanAntonio Cole was the fourth quarterback and went 1 for 3 for 2 yards. Louis’ intercepted pass was his only attempt. … Said Dooley about the QB reserves: “Talent-wise, they are there, but they are struggling getting the playbook, which is to be expected. I do expect Brandon Duncan to be further along because he had a spring, so he has to pick it up, but I think we have four young men behind Ben who’s eager to get the job.” … The scrimmage drew its largest crowd of preseason camp so far, with about 100 fans viewing from the ledge between the visitors’ bleachers of Golden Lion Stadium and the practice field. … UAPB will practice twice a day Monday, Thursday and next Saturday and scrimmage again Friday.