Last weekend, the University of Pine Bluff Golden Lions held the first scrimmage of their spring football practices. According to UAPB head football coach Monte Coleman, the effort he is seeing from his guys is pleasing. Along with Coleman, former NFL official Walt Anderson had good things to say about the team as well. Anderson was in town with a Big 12 officiating clinic that participated in the scrimmage.
"Guys played hard, smart, and they were aggressive," Coleman said "We moved around well, and they're working toward what we want to accomplish this spring. That's being a smarter football team, and a more aggressive football team. One of the officials, Mr. Walt Anderson, who officiates for the NFL, commented that out of all the years that he's been coming here, things look more promising just by the effort he has seen. His words were greatly appreciated, and I agree with him."
The Golden Lions' offense is steadily progressing under second-year offensive coordinator Ted White. With the guys fully locked in and engaged in his system, things have been moving more fluidly on that side of the ball.
"I'm pleased with the direction of our offense under our offensive coordinator Coach White," Coleman said. "There's a transition that we had to go through, and that's anytime when you have a new coordinator. We've been playing hard, and we're working through the mistakes. I expect us to be more productive this year, and I believe we'll put up more points."
A lot of the struggles that UAPB's offense experienced last season started up front with the line. Coleman and staff stressed that in the offseason, they had to improve the depth and competition up front, and he's confident that they accomplished their goal.
"The biggest difference right now is the growth in depth within our offensive line," Coleman said. "I was able to sign four mid-year junior college offensive lineman, and they're here in camp with us right now. We have eight more coming from the class we garnered on national signing day. Offensive line was a big point of emphasis for us. We went through the spring with five offensive lineman last year, and right now I have 11 in camp."
Although the UAPB offense had a hard time producing on a consistent basis, they possessed two of the SWAC's top receivers. Both Willie Young and Cody Swain graduated, leaving a void at that position. The Golden Lions return three guys who Coleman expects to step up and take advantage of opportunities.
"Losing Willy Young and Cody Swain will just give other guys an opportunity to show why they're here," Coleman said. "John Hawkins has stepped up, and he's having a good spring for us. Paris Mack is showing his ability to make plays, and the same is to say for Kolby McNeal. There are guys filling the shoes of those from the past like we expected."