Things didn't go nearly as well for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff last week against Akron as they did during its season opener against Morehouse College, but Golden Lions Coach Monte Coleman isn't fretting.
In fact, he's embracing it.
The Golden Lions (1-1) fell into a 14-point hole in the first quarter and never recovered in dropping a 52-3 decision to the Zips on the road. Akron led 31-3 at halftime and was never seriously threatened in the second half while handing UAPB its first loss of the season.
The Zips churned out 464 yards of offense and held UAPB to just 168, which was 176 yards less than what the Golden Lions managed in their 23-10 victory over the Maroon Tigers on Sept. 2, but despite being outmanned on both sides of the ball, Coleman liked what he saw out of his team.
"It didn't turn out the way we wanted it to," he said. "During the game, I thought we were being manhandled, but when I got back and watched the film, there were a lot of bright spots and things we can build off of. And that's what I tried to convey to the team.
"Any time you play up in competition, it's going to be tough. But our guys fought hard and put forth great effort. We just came out on the other side of the score, but we've got to move on."
Agonizing over a loss to a Football Bowl Subdivision school doesn't do the Golden Lions any good this week because they'll face another one Saturday when they travel to Jonesboro to play Arkansas State University. The game will be the second ever between the schools, and Coleman is hoping it doesn't in like the first encounter.
ASU jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and finished with more than 500 yards on the ground in cruising to a 62-11 rout in 2013.
Coleman said his team is looking at Saturday's game as simply another test before heading into league play next week, but a victory over a team with ASU's credentials would give the Golden Lions a high level of confidence going into their Southwestern Athletic Conference opener Sept. 23 at Jackson State.
Since 2011, the Red Wolves (0-1) have won more games than any other Division I football program in the state. ASU also has beaten teams from the Football Championship Series in 12 of their past 13 games, been to a bowl game six consecutive years and has either won or shared the Sun Belt Conference title in five of the past six seasons.
"They're a good, well-coached football [team], and have been for the past several years," Coleman said. "They had their game against Miami cancelled last week because of Hurricane Irma, so they've had two weeks to prepare for us. They'll have fresh legs, and they'll be ready to play."
The Golden Lions' offense had their moments against the Zips, but their defense could have their hands full this week with ASU quarterback Justice Hansen, who connected with nine different players while throwing for 415 yards in his team's 43-36 loss to Nebraska on Sept. 2. The Red Wolves also boast a stout backfield led by junior running back Warren Ward, who's nearing 2,000 yards rushing for his career.
According to Coleman, his team is focused more on what it'll be able to do.
"We can't really worry about what they do to be honest," he said. "We have to go out there and do what we do. The guys have been upbeat this week, and we've had some pretty good practices.
"We know it'll be a challenge, but we're going to Jonesboro with a chip on our shoulder. We've put Akron behind us, and now we've got to go out and do what we do and that's play football."
One area that Coleman mentioned improving on is turnovers. The Golden Lions have committed seven of them after two games. Quarterback Brandon Duncan threw two interceptions against Akron, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
"He's a dual threat for us, and he's got the experience we need in our quarterback," Coleman said. "Right now, he's holding his own. He made some great passes last weekend, but the thing we've got to concentrate with him right now is the turnovers.
UAPB at Arkansas State
WHEN 6 p.m. Saturday
WHERE Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro
RADIO KUAP-FM 89.7, in Pine Bluff; Red Wolves Sports Network, including KAFN-FM 93.7, in Benton/Little Rock; KDXE-FM 105.5, in North Little Rock; KASR-FM 92.7, in Conway/Little Rock; KFIN-FM 107.9, in Jonesboro
INTERNET uapblionsroar.com; astateredwolves.com
RECORDS Arkansas State 0-1; UAPB 1-1
COACHES Monte Coleman (39-63 in 10th season at UAPB and overall); Blake Anderson (24-16 in fourth season at Arkansas State and overall)
SERIES Arkansas State leads 1-0
COMMENTS This is just the second meeting between the schools, with ASU winning 62-11 in 2013. ... After two games, UAPB leads the Southwestern Athletic Conference in pass defense and is second in total defense. ... Running back KeShawn Williams was held to just 8 yards rushing against Akron after running for 128 in UAPB's season opener. ... UAPB's lone victory in 2016 came during Week 3, a 45-43, triple-overtime decision at Alcorn State. ... ASU has lost its home opener in each of the past two seasons, but the Red Wolves have never lost to a team from the SWAC. ... Twenty-two of Blake Anderson's 24 victories at ASU have come by 10 points or more.
-- Erick Taylor
"Those were actually two great plays made by [Akron's] defense, but we've still got to hold back on those turnovers."
Sports on 09/15/2017
Print Headline: UAPB confident heading to ASU