ACU shocked Central Arkansas last year with a 52-35 win in Plano. The ‘Cats needed a dominant effort from all phases of the game to win. Sophomore quarterback Kade Munden and running back De’Andre Brown combined to run for 271 yards, while the defense forced seven turnovers. ACU will need a similar performance this season with UCA returning multiple starters from last year.
The Bears have been ultra efficient on offense this season, most notably in the passing game. The Bears have yet to throw an interception in 118 pass attempts. Senior Taylor Reed and sophomore Hayden Hildebrand have combined to throw for 725 yards and five touchdowns.
Somethings got to give for the Bears throwing game or the ‘Cats pass defense. The ACU secondary has been far different from the run defense, forcing four interceptions and allowing just 563 yards through three games.
Expect Central Arkansas to try and take advantage of a weak Wildcat run defense that has yet to hold an opponent under 200 rush yards. Senior Blake Veasley and sophomore Dominique Thomas should get most of the work Saturday. The pair has rushed for 313 yards and three touchdowns in 2015.
Head coach Ken Collums said the Bear’s defensive line is a concern for the ‘Cats passing game.
“UCA’s got a quality team,” Collums said. “It didn’t take long last year to figure out that these guys could play. It starts with their defensive line. Those guys are big, twitchy and strong. Even when they were playing Oklahoma State they were getting to their quarterback in two seconds at times.”
Expect the running game to pick up some extra reps against an aggressive pass rush. Brown has been the bell cow this season rushing 40 times for 257 yards and four touchdowns. However, do not sleep on senior Herschel Sims. Sims has carried just 20 times for 80 yards but has three touchdowns of his own.
“They have a good d-line that is pretty athletic,” Brown said. “We have to do a good job of containing them in order to win.”
ACU’s offense has put together a nice balanced attack to start the season. The ‘Cats feature a new wrinkle in the passing game as junior Parker McKenzie and redshirt freshman Dallas Sealey have been splitting time. McKenzie has thrown for 632 yards and five touchdowns to three interceptions at a 63.2 completion percentage. Sealey has taken on more of a Wildcat quarterback role, completing 15-of-20 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. He has done most of his work on the ground rushing 11 times for 59 yards.
ACU plays UCA this Saturday at 6 p.m.