After four consecutive games on the road, the Jacks return to Coughlin-Alumni Stadium. On a two-game winning streak, the Jacks battle the University of Central Arkansas Bears.
The Bears began their first season as a Division I-AA team well, compiling a 4-1 record. UCA comes into this weekend’s game after beating the University of South Dakota last weekend.
Even though Central Arkansas is new to Division I-AA football, the team is not to be taken lightly. Last season, the Bears finished no. 6 in Division-II rankings, with an 11-3 record. They lost in the Division-II quarterfinals in overtime.
The Bears return 17 starters from last year’s squad, seven on offense, eight on defense and two on special teams. Central Arkansas returns four seniors on the offensive line, giving them a formidable front line. The line protects returning quarterback Nathan Brown. Brown returned to action last week against USD, after missing three games with a fracture in his throwing hand.
Bears’ running back Ross Brown also makes use of the experienced line, rushing for an average of 86 yards per game and five touchdowns on the season. UCA also has a dangerous receiver in DivisionII.com All-American Aaron Fairooz.
The Bears’ defense is led by returning second-team All-American Jacob Ford and third-team All-American Quentin Maxfield.
Head Football Coach John Stiegelmeier said UCA is very similar to the past two teams the Jacks have played and defeated.
“They are very athletic,” he said.
Stiegelmeier said the Bears are an entertaining team to watch. “They run a ton of stuff on offense,” he said. Stiegelmeier said UCA runs a lot of different looks on defense, always forcing opponents to make adjustments.
Stiegelmeier said the two keys to the game will be execution and home-field advantage. He said the team needs to be sure it executes schemes against all the various looks Central Arkansas will throw at them.
“Execution is better than trickery,” Stiegelmeier said.
Returning home after four consecutive away games will “be a huge advantage for us,” said Stiegelmeier.
“Ideally, (it will) be magnified by a large crowd.”