Central Arkansas head coach Nathan Brown is used to success in Conway, Ark.
As a player, Brown was the most prolific quarterback in school history, having thrown for 100 touchdowns and 10,558 yards while earning All-American honors three times.
This year, his second as head coach, Brown has an offense that ranks fourth in the pass-happy Southland in passing yards per game (300.8). Brown will coach the Bears against Illinois State in a second-round FCS playoff game at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Despite having a bye last week, Brown told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette that the Bears (9-3) simulated a game last Saturday.
“I just want to keep us sharp so that we’re not just going through the motions,” Brown said. “I don’t want us to lag like we have sometimes coming off bye weeks.”
UCA faces an ominous stat against the powerful Illinois State rushing attack. The Bears’ rush defense has allowed 20 touchdowns on the ground this season, the second-highest total in FCS.
Prairie State Pigskin takes a glance at Central Arkansas on and off the football field:
Colors: Purple and grey
Location: Conway, Ark.
Population of city: 65,000
Record: 9-3 overall, 7-2 Southland (co-champions with Nicholls State)
Rankings: The Bears are No. 7 in the FCS Coaches Poll and No. 9 in the STATS Media Poll.
Fun facts: UCA’s enrollment includes students from all 75 counties in the state. … The most famous athlete in UCA history is Pro Basketball Hall of Famer and six-time NBA champ Scottie Pippen, who played 17 seasons in the NBA, including two stints with the Bulls. … Several of the school’s women’s sports teams go by the nickname “Sugar Bears.” … Since 2018, all UCA sports teams and their biggest athletic rival, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, have played for the Governor’s I-40 Showdown.
Head coach: Nathan Brown
Stadium: Estes Stadium (turf), seats 10,000
Names you should know on offense: Wide receiver Tyler Hudson earned Southland Freshman of the Year honors after catching a team-best 52 passes for 939 yards and 12 touchdowns. …
Just behind in the receiving stats is sophomore Lujuan Winningham (50 receptions, 814 yards, eight TDs). … Sophomore QB Breylin Smith has thrown 31 TDs and 13 interceptions while completing 64 percent of his passes. … Massive 6-foot-8, 320-pound senior offensive tackle Hunter Watts was a first-team all-conference selection, and he helps lead the way for leading rusher Carlos Blackman, a 228-pound senior who has seven TDs on the ground.
Names you should know on defense: Junior cornerback Robert Rochell has a team-high five interceptions and 11 pass breakups and was a first-team All-Southland selection. … Senior safety Juan Jackson leads the team with 61 tackles and is one of five players with at least 54 stops. … Twelve different players have at least one sack, paced by junior defensive end J.W. Jones (4.5 sacks). … Starting defensive back Trai Mosley (30 tackles, five pass breakups) is a transfer from FBS Nebraska.