MONTICELLO — Following last week’s loss at Southwestern Oklahoma State, the Arkansas Monticello Boll Weevils (2-2, 2-2 Great American Conference) return home to host Arkansas Tech (2-2, 2-1 GAC) today at Willis “Convoy” Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium at 3 p.m.
“They are a very fundamental football team,” UAM head coach Hud Jackson said. “Defensively, they have a different mindset than from last year.
“They are well coached on both sides of the ball and they know where they are supposed to be.”
ATU senior running back Ketrich Harmon, who stands at 6-foot-3 and is 250 pounds, presents a formidable challenge for the Weevils this week.
“He is a big guy,” Jackson said. “(His height and weight) is almost like a guard. But he is very athletic.”
In last week’s game against Division I Football Championship Subdivision member Nicholls State, Harmon had 10 carries for 182 yards. The Wonder Boys lost 44-34.
“Most of the tailbacks we have faced this season have been about 5-foot-9,” Jackson said. “This guy is just huge. He is going to run straight at you and try to run you over.
“He is an old school-type running back, which is totally different than our last four opponents.
“That part sticks out right away when you look at tape. That’s a big concern, because it just a different style of runner.”
So far this season, Harmon has rushed 38 times for 373 yards with four touchdowns.
Another challenge for the UAM defense is quarterback Luke Halpin. Last week, Halpin was 13-of-22 for 175 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
“He is a good player,” Jackson said. “With all the teams that we have faced, they haven’t asked their quarterback to go out and win the game for them. And it isn’t any different this week.
“But he manages the game well. He does a good job of getting the ball in people’s hands.”
Halpin is 86-of-123 for 830 yards with four touchdowns on the season.
Southwestern Oklahoma State outgained UAM 233 yards to 25 in the fourth quarter, leading to a 35-17 win last week. SWOSU outscored the Weevils 21-7 in the second half en route to the win, but Jackson put a lot of that on the number of penalties the team racked up.
“We had 14 and I think they had 16 for a total of 30 for over 250 yards of penalties,” Jackson said. “That was the killer.
“It was like a 10-point swing offensively. At one point, we had a fourth and 2 and we jump offside. When we go to kick it – a kick Jamie (McGee) would have normally made – it gets blocked.”
He added that a roughing-the-passer penalty against UAM led to a touchdown for SWOSU.
“It happened several other times,” Jackson said. “We had seven penalties in the second half and five of those put us in first and 25 or second and 20.
“It is hard to call plays that far behind the chains.”
Jackson said it was frustrating to “do well in all the other categories, but that one is the one the proves costly.”
“There is no doubt in my mind, that was the main factor in the second half,” Jackson said.
Offensively, sophomore transfer quarterback Cody Trimble led UAM last week, finishing 17-of-25 for 140 yards with a touchdown.
“Against Southwestern, we had a good first half, but we didn’t do anything in the second half,” Trimble said.
UAM won its first two home games of the season and has already doubled last year’s win total.
“It was good to get those first couple of wins,” Trimble said. “It gave us a good boost of confidence. But we need to build on that confidence and wins.
“We got to play more steady. We are kind of up and down.”
Junior wide receiver Skylar Scott had nine catches for 142 yards in last week’s loss. Junior Rod Smith carried 18 times for a season-high 81 yards.
“I was here last year,” Scott said. “There just seems to be more fire. Seems like everybody wants it more.
“This is the same group of guys, minus a few, but you can tell these guys are just more hungry.
“Last season wasn’t very good and everybody knows that. With two wins, we are better than what we had last year already.
“Hopefully, we can just keep rolling off of this and keep it going like that.”