MONTICELLO — Arkansas-Monticello head coach Hud Jackson has no problem admitting that the Boll Weevils are not good enough to look past anybody — even a nonconference game against Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.).
“We are focused on the game at hand right now and that is the most important one,” Jackson said. “We can’t look beyond anybody but we love being at home and this game is important.”
Today’s game against the Lynx, which begins at 3 p.m. at Willis “Convoy” Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium, is the first of three straight home games for the Weevils (3-3, 3-3 Great American Conference).
“We want to win and that’s the most important thing,” Jackson said. “We want to get our confidence back and play some good sound football and come out of it injury free.
“… Stuff that we practice every day, we want to take it into the game and get our production back up.”
Last week, UAM lost 63-30 to Harding in Searcy. The Bison racked up 582 yards of total offense, including 474 rushing yards with eight touchdowns on the ground. Keenan Kellett scored four of those touchdowns — all in the first half.
UAM trailed 49-13 at the end of the first half but managed to outscore the Bison 17-14 in the second half. After the game, Jackson said he was proud of how his team responded and played in the second half.
“We just got to bounce back from what we went through last week,” Jackson said.
UAM has played two quarterbacks in at least five of its six games, and three quarterbacks in four of six — including last week’s loss to Harding.
Sophomore transfer Colton Morrison started the game, but finished just 7-of-13 for 84 yards. Cody Trimble was 8-of-17 for 85 yards and freshman Brett Courville had nine carries for 28 yards.
“We have to be more productive and if we can do that, we give ourselves the best chance to win the game,” Jackson said. “When trying to build a good football program, those kind of words are important.”
For the second straight week, Dumas native Rod Smith led the Weevils on the ground. He finished the game with 33 carries for 85 yards with two touchdowns. On the season, Smith has rushed for 340 yards on 109 carries with five touchdowns.
While Jackson was proud of Smith’s performance, he emphasized how he should not be the only one carrying the offensive load.
“He is not the type of back that can carry us like that week to week,” Jackson said. “We got to get Nick Williams more involved and if we do that, it will make Rod even more productive.
“Rod and Nick are very physical running backs and they can be productive but we also have to look for ways to be more efficient and that includes getting more carries for Nick.”
Jackson said if they do that, it gives UAM a nice “one-two punch.”
Williams, who rushed for 266 yards and led UAM with six touchdowns last season, has not put the same kind of performance he did last year. In five games, Williams has just 23 carries for 64 yards with two touchdowns.
Another aspect for UAM that needs to be more successful for its running game to be successful is its passing game. Last week, the three quarterbacks managed just 208 passing yards combined. It was still 100 yards more than Harding, but Jackson believes UAM missed a couple of scoring opportunities.
“We probably had three catches — if they had been made — worth about 120 yards,” Jackson said. “… When we got our chances, we got to convert.
“It is pretty fundamental. We need to catch the ball and hopefully it will improve this weekend.”
Lindenwood (3-4) is coming off a 20-14 loss to Bethel University (Tenn.). Running back Kameron Harris, who averages about 121 yards per game, was held to just 40 yards on 14 carries. It was the team’s third straight loss.
“Their offensive line is huge and their defensive line is big and athletic, so that always concerns you,” Jackson said. “They have a great running back that has already produced a ton this season.
“But there offensive line is what concerns me.”
Jackson said Harris is the type of guy that can “cause problems for our defense and for the game.”
“He keeps his team’s time of possession up by continuing to move the chains and keeping the ball,” Jackson said. “That’s not good for us.”
Freshman quarterback Anthony Dorsey has completed 25 passes for 221 yards and one touchdown in his first two college starts. Harris has now rushed for over 700 yards for the second straight year. He has rushed 126 times for 769 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.
Today’s game will be Lindenwood’s second Division II opponent this year, after the NAIA-member school beat Kentucky Wesleyan 49-29 earlier this year.
UAM freshman kicker Jamie McGee is just three field goals away from tying Kevin Craft’s school record of 15 field goals made during the 1999 season.
Last week against Harding, McGee made three field goals (29, 33, 21) in the loss in Searcy. It is the second time this season in which McGee has made a school record three field goals in one game.
“He’ll hold every kicking record before he leaves here,” Jackson said. “He is really consistent and hopefully he will get some chances this week.”
The two-time GAC Special Teams Player of the Week is 12-of-13 on field goal attempts and 15-for-17 on PATS.