Nathan Brown told his University of Central Arkansas football players this week to let the coaching staff focus on the minutiae of the game plan for today's game against Eastern Kentucky.
The 3 p.m. matchup at Estes Stadium, a rare in-season rematch in the world of college football, gives both sides an opportunity to adjust their play.
Eastern Kentucky's 31-28 victory over UCA three weeks ago remains fresh in the minds of both teams.
"We'll put the scheme together," Brown told his players. "What you have the advantage of, as a player, is watching film of yourself against Eastern.
"You can see what the guy you played against does well and what he did to try to stop you. Preparation needs to be a little different when you're going against somebody a second time."
Eastern Kentucky Coach Walt Wells said the Colonels (2-5) still studied the film of UCA's 52-10 victory over Missouri Western on Oct. 31, just as the Bears studied the tape of Eastern Kentucky's 24-6 loss to Stephen F. Austin last Saturday.
"You see if they made any subtle changes," Wells said. "Look for tweaks and counters to what they hurt you on before."
One twist to the rematch is Eastern Kentucky's quarterback situation.
Parker McKinney (15-20 passing, 216 yards, 2 TDs vs. UCA) started the first game and led the Colonels to a 17-7 halftime lead. McKinney came off the field just before halftime with a shoulder injury and did not return in the second half.
He did not play last week in Eastern Kentucky's loss to Stephen F. Austin and is not expected to play today.
UCA, however, will prepare for both McKinney and Dakota Allen, the quarterback who replaced McKinney and led the Colonels to their game-winning drive in the final 1:06 of the first matchup.
Allen (14-36 passing, 158 yards, 2 INTs against Stephen F. Austin) did not have near the success last week that he did against UCA.
"Sometimes, you play teams where the backup quarterback is similar," Brown said. "You can see the difference in the way they run their offense through Dakota Allen. They want to involve him more in the run game. He has the ability to make unscripted plays."
Allen completed 9 of 14 passes for 85 yards and 1 touchdown, the game-winning 21-yard pass to Matt Wilcox with six seconds to play.
Allen (9-59 rushing) also scored on a 7-yard run to give Eastern Kentucky a 24-14 lead with 12:15 to play in the fourth quarter.
"We'll prepare for the run game a little bit," Brown said. "Good for us to have that preparation."
That goes for both teams on both sides of the ball.
"It comes down to matchups," Wells said. "You're always looking for matchups you can take advantage of. You always make changes.
"So much video out there, people hone in on what you do. What you try to do is figure out what you do well. You're going to stick to your base of who you are. ... You look for little things, that maybe you did early in the year or things you haven't shown but you've been practicing."
Coaches love developing strategy.
"I think there is a chess match," Brown said of the rematch, the second time UCA has played an opponent twice this season. "Take what you did well the first time and try to do it again. But what you did well the other team is going to scheme up and try to stop you."
UCA had 419 yards of total offense in the first meeting, with Kierre Crossley rushing for 69 yards, and quarterback Breylin Smith throwing for 320 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Leading receivers Lujuan Winningham (9-103, 1 TD) and Tyler Hudson (7-106, 1 TD) will try to replicate the success they had three weeks ago.
"I do think we can continue to get an advantage on their corners," Brown said. "We have receivers that match up well with those guys. We're going to try it. That's a strength of ours."
The Bears played their best in the fourth quarter, gaining 130 yards on 16 offensive plays in the game's final eight minutes to take a 28-24 lead with 1:03 to play.
The end result left Brown second-guessing himself about not calling a timeout before the final play, and the players anguishing over one that got away.
"We've talked to our players constantly that we have a chance to avenge that loss," Brown said.
AT CENTRAL ARKANSAS
WHEN 3 p.m.
WHERE Estes Stadium, Conway
COACHES Nathan Brown (19-13 in third season at UCA; Walt Wells (2-5 in first season at Eastern Kentucky)
RADIO KUCA-FM, 91.3 in Conway; KKPT-FM, 94.1 in Central Arkansas
SERIES Eastern Kentucky leads 1-0.
ATTENDANCE Will be limited to 25% of Estes Stadium capacity of 10,000 in accordance with covid-19 protocol.