Official statistics were not kept during Saturday’s Black and Gold Game, but they weren’t needed to tell how effective Ben Anderson was.
The Arkansas-Pine Bluff redshirt senior-to-be quarterback appeared to play at his best form since he first got the starting nod three summers ago, and was responsible for three of the Black team’s touchdowns in a 31-0 victory over the Gold to wrap up spring football drills.
His biggest highlight was a 54-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, a reminder of how valuable his rushing skills were during last season. He also threw touchdown passes to Willie Young and Isiah Ferguson.
“I’m a lot older, so I’ve taken my game more from mental to physical,” Anderson said. “I think about down and distance. I think about players’ tendencies. I think about my tendencies. I think about our strengths and weaknesses.”
Anderson even engineered one drive that lasted from the end of the first quarter to the 2:37 mark of the second, capped by a Tyler Strickland field goal.
But the offense, which completed its first spring under offensive coordinator Anthony Jones, isn’t entirely mastered.
“We made some mistakes,” Jones said. “We made a lot of mistakes, even on the first team. But Ben is one of the exceptional quarterbacks in the (Southwestern Athletic) conference. He can make plays, throwing the ball and running the ball.
“We’re still in an infant stage, if you will, as far as the offense is concerned. I think we took a big step forward today toward getting some things accomplished and setting a foundation for where we want to go.”
Anderson’s offense controlled possession most of the game while rising sophomore backups Marcus Terrell and Brandon Duncan — who were quarterbacking the Black but trying to score for the Gold — struggled some.
“They’re young,” Jones said. “And you can tell they’re young. They’re feeling their away around.”
Jones added Terrell has better understanding of the offense because Duncan missed some practice time earlier this month with a hamstring injury.
Kevin Rucker picked off Terrell on the Gold’s second offensive series to set up the Black’s first scoring drive from the Gold 25. Draylon Willis finished it off with a 6-yard scoring run with 7:37 left in the opening quarter.
Willie Young had a pair of key receptions on the Black’s next drive, following up a 14-yard haul-in with a 21-yard score on a screen play. The touchdown put a positive cap on a very important spring for the sophomore who missed all of last season because of academic concerns.
But he’s not fully satisfied.
“I’m not really comfortable,” Young said. “I’m not where I need to be. I still have got to improve. Me and my guys have to work hard.”
The game consisted of two 15-minute periods and two 12-minute quarters with regular stoppage of clock in the final 2 minutes. The Black team was the entire offense and the Gold the entire defense, and first-stringers lined up against second-stringers.
UAPB coach Monte Coleman left pleased with the way the game and the spring went.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” he said. “There’s no question about that. We have to rely on some of the guys we recruited to come in and complete this football team. The foundation is laid.”