MONTICELLO — The biggest difference fans can expect from this year’s Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils is the physicality the team plans to bring to each game.
Under the leadership of newly hired offensive coordinator Kyle Shipp, the Weevils will be putting a heavy emphasis on their run game.
“We are committed to running the football,” Shipp said. “It has been a very physical camp.
“We want to be a more physical team. That has been the biggest change from last year. We are still going to throw the ball, but we are committed to being a physical team in every aspect of our offense.”
Shipp was hired as UAM’s offensive coordinator in March after serving three season as the receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Arkansas Tech.
While at Tech, Shipped coached an offense that averaged 30 points and 400 yards of total offense per game during the 2012 season.
Shipp hopes to turn around a Weevils offense that ranked eighth in the Great American Conference in scoring and ninth in total yards a year ago.
“They have really taken it upon themselves to get better,” Shipp said. “The improvement has been huge.
“They have really bought in to what we are trying to accomplish. There is no negative attitude, we have really improved.”
Junior Cody Bordelon — the lone returning starter at wide receiver — caught 29 passes last fall for 254 yards and a touchdown.
“We have a whole new offensive scheme which is going to be good,” Bordelon said. “… Hopefully we can go out there and get some wins.”
Bordelon said right now the team feels pretty confident heading into the fall thanks to a productive spring and summer.
“This summer we have been working hard,” Bordelon said. “We had to move around some guys and bring in some new guys to help the team.
“The defense is also looking good. We should be set for this season.”
UAM, which won five games last season, will begin this year with a home opener against East Central (Oklahoma) on Sept. 6. In 2013, the Weevils’ five wins all came at home.
“I think change is a good thing,” Shipp said. “I’m not saying it’s just me; the whole staff has changed.
“… I think it is easier to believe in things. To go out there and have fun, I think that is a big part of it.”
Last year, the Weevils rotated between three different quarterbacks in Colton Morrison, Cody Trimble and Brett Courville. Morrison passed for 1,051 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions.
This year, Shipp said the team will focus on using one quarterback in most situations.
“We have four quarterbacks that can play,” Shipp said. “We have four that could start at some point.
“I feel confident in any one of them, but for the most part it will be one guy out there.
“We are close to knowing who that is and making a decision pretty soon.”
Courville rushed for 244 yards on 50 attempts last season with two touchdowns. He also completed 10 passes for 108 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Trimble threw for 1,172 yards and 10 touchdowns with nine interceptions.
“They each bring their own things to the table,” Shipp said.
Shipp said he has seen a lot of improvement with Morrison.
“He is a tall kid with a good arm and decent mobility,” Shipp said. “I’ve been pleased with him.”
Shipp said Trimble has a “decent arm” and is steadily improving.
“Brett has more mobility than the rest of them,” Shipp said. “And he is almost 230 pounds. He throws the ball decently.
“… Each one gives you something different and each one has done well.”
According to Shipp, Hunter Leppert is the gunslinger of the group.
“He might have the best arm I’ve ever been around,” Shipp said. “He is getting better and better.”
Both Shipp and Bordelon are excited for the home opener. ECU defeated UAM 46-22 last year.
“I’m looking forward to that first game,” Bordelon said. “We are going to do the best we can.
“It is a going to be a good game. They are a good team, but we are going to try to our best out there.”