CONWAY -- The University of Central Arkansas will face a mobile game-manager at quarterback for the second consecutive Saturday.
The McNeese State Cowboys (3-3, 1-2 Southland) are up next for UCA and will arrive at Estes Stadium today armed with junior quarterback Cody Orgeron and much of the personnel that handed UCA (3-2, 1-1) a 23-21 loss in Lake Charles, La., last season.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.
UCA's most lopsided of two losses this season came last week at Nicholls State, which followed senior quarterback Chase Fourcade to a 34-14 victory. Fourcade, the 2018 Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year, passed for 327 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 48 more with another score.
"[Orgeron] possesses a lot of the traits that Chase Fourcade does," UCA Coach Nathan Brown said. "Obviously, he's not as well established as Chase, but he can extend plays. If you allow him to escape from the pocket and make plays with his feet on the unscripted plays, that's when he's dangerous."
"He's a lot like Fourcade," UCA senior defensive back Juan Jackson said. "I think it helps us that we played the kind of quarterback we did last week."
Orgeron, a son of LSU Coach Ed Orgeron, has passed for an average of 201.0 yards and gained an average of 48.0 rushing yards through six games.
"It's going to be a tough matchup and a tough test for us," Brown said.
Fast start wanted
UCA has trailed in each of its first five games. Despite a 3-2 record, the Bears have scored first just once -- in a 24-16 victory at Austin Peay on Sept. 7, UCA's second of three consecutive victories to start the season.
In UCA's losses, 35-16 at Hawaii on Sept. 21 and 34-14 at Nicholls State last Saturday, its opponents built respective leads of 28-0 and 20-0.
UCA Coach Nathan Brown said he was the one most responsible for those results, and it's up to him for finding a route to faster starts.
"It's on me," Brown said. "I'm going to try to adjust some things to get us to play a much better first quarter, because that's been our problem all year. We've got to do better."
UCA senior defensive back Juan Jackson, a first-team preseason All-Southland Conference selection, said it's difficult to explain why the Bears have been outscored 41-3 in first quarters this season.
"I don't know what the reasons are," Jackson said. "I know we've played as hard as we can, but sometimes that's just the way it works out. We just have to keep giving it everything we have."
UCA has outscored its opponents in the fourth quarter by a 71-30 total.
Special teams star
Three of the four focal points from last season's Bears' special teams units were in their final seasons of eligibility, but UCA Coach Nathan Brown said little has changed in terms of proficiency.
Only senior punter Taylor Wallace returned this season after averaging 39.1 yards a punt in 2018. Through UCA's first five games, he has punted 30 times for an average of 40.2 yards, with 10 fair catches and 10 punts downed inside opponents' 20-yard lines.
Lost from 2018 were place-kicker Matt Cummins, leading kickoff returner Cedric Battle, and punt returner Dwayne Smith.
UCA has relied on junior kicker Hayden Ray thus far this season. Ray has made 5 of 5 field-goal attempts, with a long of 37 yards, and 13 of 14 extra-point attempts.
Freshman Cameron Myers has averaged 25.6 yards on nine kickoff returns this season. Freshman Tyler Hudson has returned six punts for an average of 2.7 yards.
"We feel good about our specials teams," UCA Coach Nathan Brown said. "Hayden has stepped in and done a great job, and Taylor has done everything we knew he could. He's pinned a lot of guys deep this year."
Sports on 10/12/2019
Print Headline: Cowboys' Orgeron a top threat