After dropping a close one to Mississippi Valley Saturday 38-31, UAPB head football coach Monte Coleman on Tuesday expressed the disappointment that he and his team have following the loss.
“It was a game that I wanted to win — a game that we all wanted to win,” Coleman said. “It's a game that hurts us, but it doesn't kill us. We started fast, jumped out to 14-0 lead, then we made some mistakes. We've been bitten by the injury bug. We lost our starting corner Dave White to an injury, and we played a freshman. He played extremely hard but he made some mistakes, and they capitalized on his mistakes.”
The injuries that Coleman eluded to include White's ankle sprain, and junior safety Blake Connor is dealing with a broken wrist that he suffered in the Alabama A&M game.
Through the ball game, there were plenty of momentum swings, and both teams were catching bad breaks here and there. However, Coleman referenced three key plays that haunted the Golden Lions the most, and in his mind they cost them the win.
“There's three plays that stick out the most to me,” Coleman said. “I think those plays caused us to lose the football game. One play which would've been seven points, Dante McDonald fumbles the football on the one yard line, and that hurt a lot. Then, we were after the quarterback really hard, then he kind of heaves one up for a hail mary that they catch in the back of the end zone. The last one was the double pass for the touchdown. Those three plays were the tale of the tape.”
For UAPB, red-shirt junior quarterback Le'Earl Patterson got the nod as the starter over senior Brandon Duncan. It was a call made by the Golden Lions' offensive coordinator, Ted White, and Coleman was in total agreement with the move. Le'Earl was solid in his first start of the season, completing 18/34 passes for 193 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
Patterson's athletic ability, which the coaches rave about, showed its head, as he rushed for 89 yards.
However, it was a situational deal, and they said they felt Le'Earl was their best option for this game. But going forward the starter will be determined from week-to-week.
“Coach White came to me and said he really wanted to start Le'Earl in this particular ball game, and Coach White is our offensive coordinator,” Coleman said.
“He and I are were thinking on the same planes. When we played against Jackson State, we brought him in and he gave the offense the surge we needed to win that game in overtime. We didn't play him at A&M, and we sat back and we said, you know what, maybe we should've. It may have given the offensive side of the ball a little more spark. So during practice, Coach White came to me, and he said, I want to play Le'Earl, and he had my blessings on that. I think the rest is history. He came in, and he's such a competitor, he hates to lose, and he's tough. He finished with 89 yards rushing and threw the ball extremely well in exception to the one turnover. Le'Earl did a great job for us.”
On deciding on a starting quarterback, Coleman said it would be “game by game. We can very easily see Brandon back in, but it's a game by game situation. Lee is a little more athletic, and I think that's one of the reason why Coach White wanted to make that move. Either one of those guys can lead us to what we're trying to do. We're not mad at Brandon at all. The good thing about this team is when Brandon was playing Le'Earl was his biggest fan, and when Le'Earl got the start this week Brandon was his biggest fan. That's the making of a good football team.”
A major point for Valley was the emergence of their quarterback DeWayne Betts. Betts was called in for relief of his fellow freshman quarterback Christopher Fowler, who was pulled to start the second quarter after completing 9/16 passes for 71 yards and one interception. Valley Head Coach Rick Comegy decided that it wasn't Fowler's night, and that's when Betts would come in and turn the tide.
After a rushing touchdown by KeShwawn Williams and Dante McDonald, Betts entered the game with Valley trailing 14-0. Betts led Valley on scoring drives on two of their three offensive possessions in the second quarter to knot the score and give them life.
Right before the half, UAPB took advantage of having arguably the best kicker in Golden Lions football history. Jamie Gillan stepped up and nailed a 52 yarder to set the all-time record at UAPB for longest field goal made, giving the Golden Lions a 17-14 advantage heading into the break.
In the second half, although the Golden Lions were able to gain production as they were led by the rushing attack of Williams, Betts proved to be tough. Betts finished the game completing 16/26 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns. Coleman is very familiar with Betts, as he recruited him out of high school in Memphis, Tennessee, and he respects him as a dynamic player.
“I knew the kid Betts, we recruited Betts,” Coleman said. “I know his ability and he showed it. He made some plays when he absolutely had to have plays. I talked to him briefly after the game. He could've very easily found a home as a starting quarterback. I feel like he gave them the spark they needed just like Le'Earl did against Jackson State for us. His productivity running and passing the ball was big.”
Coleman referenced one of Betts' touchdown passes, which was a deep shot into the end zone that ended up being caught by his receiver, Steven McIntosh. Betts did a good job of making something out of nothing on multiple occasions.
“When a quarterback scrambles, what we teach the secondary is it goes from zone to man,” Coleman said. “Now the offense on the other hand, what they say is, ok this is what defense is going to do, so you run away, and that's what they did. They ran away from our guys. The guy is literally standing on the back end zone line, and he just kind of heaves it up and it goes over a couple of our players, and he makes a great catch and keeps his feet inbounds for the touchdown. Tough, that was tough.”
A positive for the Golden Lions is that they have KeShawn Williams back and healthy. Along with Williams, junior cornerback Shufon Alcorn attended the presser. Alcorn has become a consistent mainstay in the secondary, and his interception in the Valley game only helps solidify that. Williams, on the other hand, carried the ball 13 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Williams also hauled in three receptions for 35 yards.
“KeShawn is pretty much healthy now,” Coleman said. “He missed the A&M game because of a hip pointer, but he's healthy and he showed it. Saturday night he showed it. “That's one of the thing that Coach White and the offensive staff wants to do is we want to be balanced. We don't want to be known just as a passing team, we want to be able to run the football to open up the pass and pass the football to open up the run.”
It wasn't hard to tell that Williams and Alcorn are a couple of the guys on the team that have completely won Coleman over by what they've brought to the Golden Lions program.
“These two guys next to me, they're leaders on them,” Coleman said. “KeShawn had an outstanding game, Alcorn had an outstanding game, and that's the reason why they're here with me. They will not, and I say it again, they will not let us stop. As bad as we may feel after losing to Valley, we will not stop.”
Coleman on Shufon Alcorn
“I can't say enough about Mr. Alcorn,” Coleman said. “He's definitely one of our leaders on the defensive side of the ball. As a coach, and I don't mean this in a derogatory way at all, you're looking for the Bill Ross-looking players, the 6'2, 6'1 players, you're not looking for Mr. Alcorn. But pound for pound he has the biggest heart and most competitive spirit that I've seen in anybody on this football team for a lot of years. He started pretty much all of the games last year, and he's come back and started all of them this year. It's because of his work ethic and his ability to make plays. It doesn't matter how tall the people are that he's going up against, he has the heart and I admire him for that. We have some of the 6'6 and 6'7 players, but their heart isn't as big as Alcorn's. I love this guy, I love what he brings to the team, and he does a great job for us.
Coleman on KeShawn Williams
“He's the workhorse at this point,” Coleman said. “If he gets tired we have good back-ups to come in and relieve him. Just talking with Coach Saine, the running backs coach, and Coach White, we definitely want to keep KeShawn in as much as possible. He showed during training camp and during spring that he has the ability to take it to the house. It has a lot to do with the weight room, he's very active in the weight room. When we're running sprints or doing conditioning, he's going to be at the top almost every time. I commend him for the game that he had this past weekend, but that's old news and I need that this week.”
Jamie Gillan sets UAPB record with 52-yard made FG
“If you look at Jamie, you wouldn't look at him as a kicker,” Coleman. “You would think that he is a linebacker or a safety. Jamie prides himself on kicking the football, and he's an old rugby player. Tough as nails, and sometimes we have to tell him to stop kicking the football. We have coach Sheffield, who's our special teams coach, and he's an ex-kicker, so he's been given him tips on what to do. It's shown up this year. That 52 yarder was huge for us right before half, and it gave us some momentum.”
Blevins questions instant replay in SWAC
Blevins: “Coach Coleman, are there any plans for instant replay, I think instant replay is a part of college football. There were three plays in that game that could've gone either way. Is there any plan to have instant replay in the SWAC?
Coleman: “There are plans in store for next year depending on the capabilities of the institutions in the SWAC. They're trying to bring instant replay to the SWAC, and I think it'll be mandatory next year across the SWAC.”