James Arnold, a senior running back with limited playing time during his college career, has made the most of a second chance.
Arnold, 5 feet 11, 205 pounds, practically had a career in one afternoon. In the Bears' 26-10 loss at Delaware State two weeks ago, the starting tailback had 17 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown.
"I don't dwell on the positives," Arnold said. "The thing that sticks out about the game was an option play where I could have picked up more yards if I'd gone outside, instead of cutting back. Afterward, you go back and check the things you didn't do right, so you can correct them."
The 17 carries against Delaware State were as many carries as the Haines City, Fla., runner had had in any one of his previous three seasons, and the 78 yards were 1 shy of his total rushing yardage for his entire college career.
"Our offense was terrific in the first half," he said. "We were excited and enthusiastic, but we should have scored more. Then, Delaware State got the momentum and we couldn't get going."
The Bears had 185 yards passing and 79 rushing in forging a 10-10 halftime tie, then had only 26 yards rushing and 77 passing in the second half.
"The only thing you can do is look for positives. Everybody had his head in the game, and Orlando [Persell, backup quarterback who replaced the injured Maurice Chase] did a good job in relief. Now, we have to emphasize the good things, get them to carry over."
Arnold, an all-state running back, was recruited by former Morgan State coach Ed Wyche. Arnold was going to go to Bethune-Cookman, but Morgan offered a better aid package, and he decided to come north.
"I've even gotten used to the weather," he said with a laugh.
Looking at his previous college experience, he said, "I had started some games each of the other years, but missed most of last season with a groin injury. At Delaware State, I had a chance to redeem myself."
Arnold had started at Northern Iowa a month ago when regular Nathan Ayers was sidelined by an injury, then saw spot duty the next couple of weeks.
"I lost a fumble at Northern Iowa, but last Tuesday [a week ago] Coach [Ricky Diggs] talked to me, said he was giving me another chance," he said. "He told me I was going to start and would be a game captain.
"This was my opportunity to make up for the mistakes. I appreciated the chance, and I told myself, 'I can't blow it.'
"It was a good week. Just by being the captain, I had to stay focused. Wesley [Smith, senior linebacker] is my roommate, and he's a positive guy. He helped me."
Last week was an especially emotional week for Arnold, as he was in the starting lineup against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference rival Florida A&M in Tallahassee. He saw a couple of his friends who play for the Rattlers, and his family and several other friends were at the game.
He had three carries for seven yards in his side's 55-6 loss, joining Ayers and freshman Marchell Boston in a rotation. On the season, Boston has 66 carries for 209 yards and two touchdowns; Ayers has 78 carries for 195 yards and four touchdowns; and Arnold has 38 carries for 147 yards and two touchdowns.
"Even though we haven't won [0-9 headed into tomorrow's home game against 6-2-1 Western Illinois], nobody's head is down," Arnold added. "We feel like we can win before this is over.
"We've missed a lot of opportunities, because we were not executing properly. There are so many things we can do to hurt a defense. In the years to come, this will be a potent offense."