MONTICELLO — Arkansas Monticello will have to be absolutely perfect in everything it does in hopes of upsetting nationally ranked and undefeated Henderson State today in the Boll Weevils’ final home game of the season.
“They are the best team in our conference,” UAM head coach Hud Jackson said. “They are great on offense, great on defense and great on special teams.
“Just an all-around good football team.”
Jackson said UAM (5-3, 4-3 Great American Conference) has had a good week of practice.
“It is going to be a huge challenge for our football team,” Jackson said. “But we aren’t going to back down.
“We realize we will have to play as close to a perfect game as we can to have a chance.”
The fourth-ranked Reddies (8-0, 7-0) extended their regular season winning streak to 20 games following a 45-30 victory over Harding last week in Searcy.
The Reddies have scored exactly 45 points in each of the past three weeks and rank first in the GAC in passing at 427.1 yards per game and fourth in rushing at 149.6 yards per game. HSU quarterback Kevin Rogers had thrown for 3,112 yards this season and 27 touchdowns.
In last week’s 22-19 win over Southern Nazarene, UAM forced three interceptions and turned in a GAC season-high eight quarterback sacks. Junior Louis Curry led the way with 2 1/2 sacks for a combined loss of 22 yards. He also led the team with nine total tackles.
Jackson is not focused on trying to repeat last week’s performance but instead focusing on limiting the mistakes and the big plays.
“We have to put pressure on them and try to contain a really good offense,” Jackson said. “We aren’t crazy enough to think we can have a repeat performance of last week on defense, but we want to contain them as best as we can.
“They put nearly 50 points a game and 500 yards. They are pretty good.”
Henderson State senior wide receiver Robert Jordan earned the GAC Offensive Player of the Week honor after hauling in four catches for 90 yards and three touchdowns in HSU’s 15-point win over the Bisons.
The all-time leading receiver in the GAC and at Henderson State had his collegiate career come to an abrupt end when he suffered a fractured tibia and fibula on an 11-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.
In his 29 games at Henderson, Jordan totaled 147 receptions for 2,186 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Jackson said while Jordan is one of HSU’s leading offensive weapons, he said the Reddies have “plenty of guys waiting for an opportunity.”
“He is a great player and it is unfortunate the injury happened,” Jackson said. “They will have people ready to go and take advantage of that opportunity.”
For the first time this season, UAM used just one quarterback in last week’s 3-point win over SNU. In his first start with the Boll Weevils, sophomore Cody Trimble completed 20 of 25 passes for 125 yards with one touchdown.
UAM scored 17 straight points in the first quarter to take a 14-point lead over SNU. But from that point on, UAM’s offense was never really able to put anything together.
“We did some good things but then we came out and did absolutely nothing,” Trimble said. “It comes down to just being consistent.
“I wouldn’t say everybody kind of relaxed after that but I think we just need to keep the hammer down like coach is always saying.”
Jackson said Trimble will start again this week.
“(SNU) put a lot of pressure on him and he had some good plays here and there,” Jackson said. “Colton has had a good week of practice again but both of those guys handled that situation well.”
Freshman backup quarterback Brett Courville — who has seen playing time as an option-run quarterback — was suspended for last week’s game.
Senior wide receiver Jamal Nixon — who has 37 catches for 472 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns — missed last week after suffering a brown recluse spider bite. Jackson said he did not have to go to the hospital but he is still day-to-day.
“The antibiotics took care of most of it but there is still some swelling,” Jackson said.