CONWAY - Full pads went on for the first time Wednesday, and the University of Central Arkansas defense did not miss a beat on another hot, humid afternoon on the UCA campus.
"The defense really dominated today,' said UCA head coach Clint Conque. "They are playing fast, they are playing physical, and they are just doing what they want to do right now. I'm very excited about the way the defense is playing, but we have to get our offense going where it is just as fast and physical and productive as our defense.'
The Bears, in full gear, opened practice with what they call the "Cave Drill,' with one blocker, one tackler and one runner going head up against each other. It was a spirited start to the first practice in full gear.
"We wanted to get in there and let them go at it right from the start,' said Conque. "We've been practicing for four days under the NCAA-mandated rules about limited contact and no pads, and we were ready to let them hit each other a little bit. I think it was a great way to start practice. I think the guys were ready.'
Conque said the UCA offense had seven or eight turnovers Wednesday, with Jestin Love, Radarius Winston, Bobby Watkins and Dillion Winfrey recording interceptions.
"That's just unacceptable,' said Conque. "You can't turn the ball over that many times, even if it's just in practice. We have a lot of work to do on that side of the ball to get our intensity where the defense is right now.'
The UCA defense does return a bevy of starters, including Love, an All-Southland Conference safety, and SLC Freshman of the Year Jonathan Woodard at defensive end. Three others, including senior linebacker Justin Heard, senior lineman Matt Hornbuckle and senior defensive back Radarius Winston, were preseason first-team All-SLC selections.
"I'm proud of the defense they way they are coming to practice every day,' said Conque. "They are coming to work every day and getting better every day. We need the offense to step up and do the same.'
UCA will practice twice more this week in shoulder pads and helmets before their first scrimmage of fall camp, set for 4 p.m. Saturday at First Security Field at Estes Stadium.
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