With the bye week under their belts, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions are ready to take on the Southern University Jaguars at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock on Saturday.
This will be the first of four Western Division Southwestern Athletic Conference games that the Golden Lions will play. UAPB Head Coach Monte Coleman spoke on their preparation for the Jaguars at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
“We got an extra week to work on Southern,” Coleman said.
“We did some work on them during team period so that we’ll be familiar with them. Just talking to the guys, I can tell everybody is still enthused. Just looking at stats and standings, the guys see we still have a chance. All we have to do is play our game, and that’s what we’ve been preaching. They guys are enthused about the parody in the league and we’ll be prepared to play this football game.”
The Jaguars will enter Saturday’s contest with a winning record, and they sit in second place in the SWAC West Standings. With a win, UAPB can close ground in the West, and salvage the season. Coleman said has respect for Southern, but at the same time he’s chomping at the bit to get back on the sideline to coach against them.
“Southern is a very good football team,” Coleman said. “I think they’ve won one more conference game than we have. They picked up a big victory this past week, and it’s going to be a good game. They’re coming into hostile territory and I’m looking forward to playing this game in Little Rock at War Memorial Stadium this weekend.”
Coleman has mentioned that even though they’ve suffered some tough losses, he hasn’t seen any quit in the team. UAPB red-shirt junior quarterback Le’Earl Patterson has taken up a leadership role on the team, especially since taking over as the starter. Patterson and his fellow Golden Lion teammates kicked the coaches out, and held a players only meeting after the homecoming loss to Central State.
In that moment, Coleman remembered doing the same back in his playing days, and he also remembered how meaningful those player only meetings were.
“What happened after the game last week, the players led by Le’Earl kicked all of the coaches out of the locker room after I said my speech,” Coleman said. “They kicked all of the coaches out and had a team meeting. I don’t know what was said, and I didn’t ask what was said during that meeting. It brings me back to memories when I was with the Redskins and we had several of those heart to heart team type meetings during our Super Bowl runs where the coaches weren’t involved.”
Patterson was at the weekly press conference this week and with Southern’s pre-season all-SWAC quarterback Austin Howard coming in this weekend, Patterson was asked what he thought of him as the opposing quarterback.
“With him as the opposing quarterback, he’s pretty good, but I feel like our guys are better,” Patterson said. “I feel like our game plan is better, and we’ll stick it out and go win.”
Coleman also chipped in with key information on Howard. In their season opener against South Carolina State, Howard partially tore his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), and since his return, he’s been limited. Howard made his first start since the PCL injury against Alcorn State in week four, when the Jaguars suffered their only SWAC loss.
“He’s kind of one-dimensional,” Coleman said. “He was selected to one of the all-SWAC preseason teams, he can throw the football, and he’s very smart. He tore his PCL so he’s kind of one dimensional. It’s coming down to him just throwing the football and he has the ability. He has two great running backs. He’s not running nearly as much as he had in the past few years. He’s got a knee brace on and from my understanding he’s coming back from a torn PCL.”
Southern put up 400 total yards of offense last week in their 35-17 win over Jackson State. Howard was 15/26 for 176 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
Senior running back Herbert Edwards ran for 163 yards and one touchdown against Jackson, and the week before against Alabama A&M he rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Edwards has shouldered the load on the ground for the most part, while Howard has still been able to produce through the air.
On defense, in their past two conference games the Jaguars are winning the turnover battle 5-1. Coleman noted their physicality, and that they’re discipline in their scheme.
“They’re very athletic on defense, and they’re big up front,” Coleman said.
“They would like to get to the quarterback without blitzing. They’re not a big blitz team, but they will on occasion. They’re going to put the work on the four interior guys and let them go to work. They’ll line up in a 3-4, but they’re number one defense will be a 4-2-5. They’re physical, they can run, and they’re a good defense.”
Coleman wouldn’t necessarily say that there’s a true advantage on the field of playing in Little Rock. However, he recognized it as being a great stadium, and how it’s always a great experience for the players to play in an environment like that.
“We’ve had some good games, some great games, and some not so great games in Little Rock,” Coleman said. “It’s a great venue for football. It’s an ex-home field for the Razorbacks, it’s top notch, and it’s a great place to play.”