MONTICELLO – Arkansas-Monticello is two wins away from having its first winning season since 2008, when the Boll Weevils finished with seven wins.
With four games left this year – including two home games – the Weevils (4-3, 3-3 Great American Conference) have a good chance of accomplishing the task.
The Weevils are seeking their fifth straight win at home as UAM host Southern Nazarene (0-7, 0-7 GAC) today at Willis “Convoy” Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium for homecoming.
“They are a big team and defensively they’ve got some good players that fly to the football,” UAM head coach Hud Jackson said. “They are in the backfield a lot and they have a defensive end (Tanner Galvin) who is an accomplished leader in sacks.”
Galvin had one sack for 13 yards in last week’s 66-17 loss to Southern Arkansas.
The Crimson Storm had 244 yards of total offense with 126 coming on the ground and 118 through the air.
Brian Yenor led the way for the Storm on the ground with 88 yards rushing. Dylan Terry and Trey Hills each threw for a touchdown as Terry went 14-for-24 for 96 yards while Hills went 3-for-8 for 22 yards.
“Their biggest issue is turnovers,” Jackson said. “I believe they have 18 turnovers in seven games.
“That’s not good. It shortens the field for their opponents.”
Yenor leads the Storm with 229 yards on 55 carries with one touchdown. Terry has thrown for 1,091 yards with five touchdowns.
Last week, the Storm turned the ball over twice on fumbles.
“They play hard and they play physical,” Jackson said. “They get after it for four quarters.
“There is a lot that concerns us.”
UAM gained one turnover in last week’s win over Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.) to improve its overall turnover margin this year to plus-9. That margin ranks 12th in the country and leads the GAC. Jackson hopes that margin continues today.
“We feel like we can continue to get in a situation to force those turnovers,” Jackson said. “We have to get to the quarterback in a hurry and do what we do.
“Hopefully we can get in positions where we do force turnovers and put points up. That is something you are aware of.”
UAM defeated LU-Belleville 41-27 last week despite giving up 20 unanswered points late in the second half. Jackson said the key for UAM this week is to finish games.
“We need to learn how to finish games,” Jackson said. “That’s for sure. That’s been the focus all week.
“We can’t relax. We aren’t a good enough team to step on the field and people are just going to bow down to us.
“We have to finish and continue to play hard and smart football.”
After taking a 41-7 lead midway through the third quarter, LU-Belleville scored three straight touchdowns – including two in the fourth quarter – to get the game within 14 points.
“We got comfortable and let them back in it,” Jackson said. “We can’t afford to let that happen.
“When we get a chance to put somebody away, we got to do it.”
Last week, UAM used all three of its quarterbacks for the fifth time. Sophomore Colton Morrison got the start, but sophomore Cody Trimble put in a highlight day, finishing 26-of-39 for 290 yards with four touchdowns, including three to senior Jamal Nixon.
Jackson said Trimble will start this week following his career-high performance.
“I think he deserves that opportunity,” Jackson said. “He played well and was very efficient.
“Colton is going to play some, too, but Cody just deserves this opportunity. I got to go with the hot hand and he has shown that he can perform.”
Dumas native Rod Smith had 79 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown in last week’s win over LU-Belleville. He also hauled in a pair of catches for 22 yards.
Smith leads UAM with a total of 130 carries for 419 yards and six touchdown rushes this season.
“We need a great performance from our offensive line and defensive line this week,” Jackson said. “That is going to be key for us to have success.
“Defensively, we have to put pressure on their quarterback and it is up to our defensive line to get that done.”