UA-Monticello Boll Weevils (3-2) vs. Harding University Bisons (3-1)
First Security Stadium, Searcy, Saturday (Oct. 12), 2 p.m.
Media: uamsports.com (includes links to live stats, live streaming video courtesy of Harding)
UAM enters the game with a 3-2 record following its 34-0 win over Arkansas Tech this past Saturday at home, while Harding currently sports a 3-1 record following a 28-14 nationally-televised win over Southern Arkansas last Thursday in Magnolia. The Boll Weevils are back on the road again this Saturday, but the team won’t be going far with the first in-state road trip of the season to face off against the Harding Bisons in Searcy. UAM has already made its two longest road trips of the 2013 season with journeys to Ada and Weatherford, Okla., both resulting in losses.
The Weevils remain in the state of Arkansas for the remaining six games of the regular season with three more home games, Saturday’s trip to Searcy and road trips to Ouachita Baptist and Southern Arkansas in the final two weeks of the season.
THE BOLL WEEVILS: UAM enters Saturday’s game against Harding with a 3-2 overall record and the same mark in Great American Conference games following a 34-0 shutout victory over Arkansas Tech last Saturday at home. It was UAM’s first shutout victory over a conference opponent since defeating Mississippi College 17-0 at home in the third week of the 1995 season. The Weevils currently rank eighth in the league in scoring at 27.4 points per game, eighth in total offense at 369.6 yards per game and sixth in total defense at 384.2 yards allowed per game… Offensively, UAM continues to use a three-headed quarterback regiment. Sophomores Colton Morrison and Cody Trimble combine for the majority of thesnaps, with freshman Brett Courville making relief appearances in three games, including rushing for 82 yards in UAM’s win over ATU this past Saturday. Morrison has not thrown an interception since the season-opening loss to East Central and leads the team with 910 passing yards with five touchdowns. Trimble holds UAM’s highest QB efficiency rating and has added 377 passing yards and four touchdowns. Junior Rod Smith padded his team-best rushing numbers in the win over ATU and now had 255 yards on 76 carries with three touchdowns. Junior Skyler Scott and senior Jamal Nixon have been the most productive receivers through the first five games. Scott has 29 catches for 402 yards and five touchdowns, while Nixon has added 25 catches for 225 yards and four touchdowns… Defensively, UAM is led by junior rover Keith Reynolds, who is seventh in the league at an average of 8.2 tackles per game…. UAM is 3-0 at home this year and 0-2 on the road. The Weevils will be looking for their first GAC road victory since joining the league this Saturday against Harding.
SCOUTING THE BISONS: Harding enters Saturday’s game against UAM with a 3-1 overall record with the same mark in the GAC following a 28-14 win overSouthern Arkansas on the road last Thursday night in the CBS Sports NetworkDivision II Game of the Week broadcasted to a national television audience… The Bisons rank second in the league in scoring at just under 46 points per game, second in total offense at 542 yards per game and second in total defense at 304.2 yards allowed per game. HU leads all of NCAA Division II with an average of 404 rushing yards per game using an option-based offense. The Bisons spread their rushing numbers around with 17 different players having at least two carries this season. Romo Westbrook, the current GAC Offensive Player of the Week, leads the team and ranks fourth in the league with an average of 95 rushing yards per game. When the Bisons pass, they make the most of it. HU leads the nation in yards per completion at an average of just over 29 yards per catch. HU has only attempted 44 passes this season, 86 pass attempts fewer than the next lowest total in the GAC. The Bisons rank thirdnationally in third down conversions and second nationally in fewest first downs allowed.
BALL CARRIERS BEWARE: UAM has quickly climbed the GAC and NCAA leaderboard for being on the positive side of turnovers. After forcing four turnovers and committing none last week against ATU, UAM now sports a +7 turnover margin, which ranks seventh in the nation and first in the GAC. UAM ranks third nationally and first in the GAC in fumbles recovered with nine so far.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE NUMBERS: Including the turnover categories mentioned above, the Weevils rank in the top 25 nationally in six statistical categories. UAM ranks 10th in the nation in fourth down defense holding its opponents on fourth down attempts just over 85 percent of the time. UAM’s red zone offense ranks 18th nationally and second in the GAC by scoring on 89 percent of drives that make it inside the opponent 20-yard line… Individually, freshman kicker Jamie McGee added two more field goals in the win over ATU to move him up to No. 4 nationally in field goals per game with an average of 1.8 per game. Cornerback Demarcus Robinson ranks 11th nationally in interceptions and 17th nationally in passes defended.
LAST TIME OUT… UAM 34, ARKANSAS TECH 0: The Boll Weevils forced four turnovers, tallied a season-high 236 rushing yards and limited Arkansas Tech to just 178 yards of total offense to defeat the Wonder Boys 34-0 this past Saturday at home. The game was delayed for one hour and fifty-five minutes midway through the third quarter due to lightning and an ensuing thunderstorm. Rod Smith eclipsed became UAM’s first 100-yard rusher this season and was the first UAM player with at least 30 carries in a gamesince 2008 with 32 carries for 106 yards in the win over ATU. Read a full recap on page 14.
MCGEE EARNS SECOND GAC HONOR: Freshman kicker Jamie McGee is the GAC Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time this season after accounting for 10 of UAM’s 34 points in this past Saturday’s shutout win over ATU at home. McGee made field goals of 43 and 30 yards, while connecting on all four extra point attempts. He ranks fourth in the nation and leads the GAC with an average of 1.8 FGs per game.
THE LAST TIME… UAM VS. HU: Harding spoiled UAM’s Great American Conference opener last season by outgaining the Weevils 455-274. Final score of the game was 52-7. The Bisons scored 28 points in the first quarter, three in the second quarter and 21 in the third quarter. UAM’s lone touchdown, a three-yard run by quarterback Hunter Leppert came midway through the third quarter to cap an eight-play, 65-yarddrive. Romo Westbrook, who currently leads the Bisons’ rushing attack this season, had 47 yards on 11 carries with three touchdowns in last season’s meeting in Monticello.
THE COACHES: UAM’s third-year head coach Hud Jackson improved his record to 9-18 following last Saturday’s 34-0 win over Arkansas Tech. Jackson became UAM’s 25th known head coach prior to the 2011 season after serving the previous six seasons as associate head coach at Central Arkansas. Prior to joining the UCA staff, Jackson was a high schoolcoach in the state of Louisiana for 13 years… Harding is led by Ronnie Huckeba in his seventh season at Harding. Huckeba, who served 21 seasons as an assistant coach at Harding prior to being named head coach in October of 2007, has compiled a 34-32 record as the head Bison. Huckeba led the Bisons to the NCAA Division II playoffs for the first time in school history and finished the year with a 9-2 record.
UP NEXT: The Boll Weevils return to Monticello for the next three weeks of the season with the lone non-conference game of the season coming up on October 19 against Lindenwood University of Belleville, Illinois. Homecoming follows on October 26 against Southern Nazarene, and Senior Day against Henderson State is next on Nov. 2. All kickoffs are set for 3 p.m.