MONTICELLO — Heading into today’s game against Southwestern Oklahoma State, Arkansas-Monticello (2-1, 2-1 Great American Conference) head coach Hud Jackson said this week has been productive following the win last week.
“It is nicer to have team meetings after a win,” Jackson said. “It is nicer and more productive.
“That’s our goal here. Just to maintain that and understand that there is going to be bumps in the road and deal with them as they come.”
UAM’s next “bump in the road” is facing a talented SWOSU team today in Weatherford, Okla.
“They are a good football team that should be 3-0,” Jackson said. “They are just very experienced and have a lot of guys coming back.
“Defensively, they are probably the best defense we’ve faced all year. They are very athletic and very experienced.”
The Bulldogs (2-1, 2-1 GAC) opened the season with wins over Harding and Arkansas Tech but suffered a 20-17 setback to Southern Arkansas last week, denying the Bulldogs a chance to start 3-0 for the first time since 1992.
“Not to take anything away from the teams we have beaten this year, but Southwestern is one of the betters ones we have faced,” Jackson said. “So it is a big concern.
“We got to play above average in every phase of the game.”
Senior quarterback Dustin Stenta, who threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns last week at Southern Arkansas, leads the Bulldogs’ offense. He currently has 756 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
Stenta currently ranks fourth in the GAC in passing, averaging 252 yards per game through three weeks. He also leads GAC quarterbacks in rushing with 170 yards on 24 attempts, giving him 926 yards of total offense for the year.
“Stature wise, he is not a very big guy,” Jackson said. “But he is very athletic and very smart. He doesn’t make a lot of bad decisions.
“But I think his leadership skills stand out the most. He is a tremendous leader and knows what is expected out of him.
“We have to get him in some bad situations and shake him up. He’s a heck of a quarterback.”
The Boll Weevils are coming off a 22-20 victory over Northwestern Oklahoma State. It is the first back-to-back victories since the first two games of the 2011 season.
“To have back-to-back wins, especially conference wins, we are really excited about it,” Jackson said. “A lot of good things can happen for us if we work hard every day, which our kids have done.”
UAM finished the 2011 season — Jackson’s first year as head coach — with a 5-7 record. The two wins also marks the first time UAM has won consecutive conference games since midway into the 2009 schedule.
The key for the Weevils in those two wins has been the use of their three quarterbacks. Jackson said it is a possibility that he will use the same strategy in today’s game but he will have to wait and “see how the game plays out.”
“I think it is one of those things, where you go with the hot hand,” Jackson said. “Whoever starts for us, I want him to be the guy, but if we need to bring in someone to give the offense a spark, than we are going to do that.”
In last week’s win over NWOSU, freshman Brett Courville gave the Weevils the spark it needed after scoring on a 8-yard touchdown run to begin the second quarter. It gave UAM a 9-7 lead with 14:54 left in the first half.
“I was a little nervous coming in,” Courville said after the game. “But when I got up there and saw the way the defense was playing, I knew we had it set up perfectly.
“The offensive line did a good job of picking up their blocks and it helped me walk into the end zone untouched.”
Courville finished 1-of-5 passing for 18 yards and had seven carries for 25 yards with the touchdown.
“Coach uses us to how he see fit,” Courville said. “If he sees something is good to run the ball, he puts me in. If he sees good passing opportunities, he might put Colton or Cody in.”
UAM starting quarterback Colton Morrison struggled throughout last week’s game but finished 18-of-32 for 120 yards.
“Early in the game, he was making throws that were very uncharacteristic of him, especially compared to his first two outings,” Jackson said. “But in the second half, he made some good, productive throws that can hopefully roll over to this game the best it can.”
Cody Trimble, Morrison’s backup, finished the game 6-of-10 for 111 yards with one touchdown and an interception.
Today’s game against Southwestern Oklahoma State is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Fast Lane Field.
“They are a team that is not going to make many mistakes, but when they do, we have to take advantage,” Jackson said. “It is game where we need to play as close to perfect as we can.”