FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas interim head coach Barry Lunney Jr. was once asked about the quarterback situation prior to Thursday’s practice.
Arkansas has started three different quarterbacks this season and played a fourth. Junior Nick Starkel has started five games, senior Ben Hicks four and redshirt freshman John Stephen Jones one. True freshman KJ Jefferson saw his first action of the season against Western Kentucky. Lunney isn’t gonna give LSU any head’s up on who will start.
“I saw a lot of them,” Lunney said. “I saw a lot of them getting out there, running around and throwing the ball. I know you guys all want to talk about that. Just so you guys know, I think we have a pretty clear direction on what we anticipate doing in that game, but it’s going to be to our advantage to not divulge that. Just keep that in house and go from there.
“I know most of you… Shoot, my son asked me that this morning at the breakfast table, so you’re not alone. He wanted to know who was going to be the quarterback. We certainly have an idea of how we’re progressing to that. It’s not locked. It’s not dialed in completely. But we’ll have that more finite on Sunday.”
Starkel has completed 93 of 169 passes for 1,118 yards, 10 interceptions and seven touchdowns. Hicks is 64 of 132 for 736 yards, a pair of interceptions and two touchdowns. Jones has completed 13 of 26 passes for 101 yards, one interception and two touchdowns. Jefferson is 7 of 17 for 92 yards and one interception.
Jack Lindsey is the other scholarship quarterback who serves as the holder for kicks. Since Lunney is wanting to keep the quarterback a secret one reporter asked if he might start Lindsey?
“That would probably empty the roster at that point,” Lunney said. “And let me tell you, Jack’s done a great job in his role for us this year. Jack’s got some really nice qualities as a quarterback and he actually worked in there a little bit yesterday and made a couple of nice throws. So who knows how this thing’s going to progress down the road these next few weeks.”
Sophomore linebacker Bumper Pool is in yellow this week at practice. Lunney talked about Pool’s injury on Thursday.
“I think he’ll be fine,” Lunney said. “The open date will do him well. He’s just nursing a little bit of a regular muscle injury. We thought it was wise for him to rest and recover this week.”
Sophomore offensive guard Kirby Adcock is practicing in a green jersey this week. Will he be available against LSU?
“You know, that’s a good question,” Lunney said. “I don’t know that. He may be a little bit…if we played Saturday, I’d say no. But, with the rest and recovery, I’d say we probably need to talk about that on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. It’s not ruled out.”
True freshman running back A’Montae Spivey who was suspended by Morris for the Western Kentucky game is practicing this week and will play against LSU.
Lunney replaced Chad Morris, who was fired on Sunday, but did reveal Thursday he got a call from the former head coach the day the firing happened.
“We did,” Lunney said. “He called me the day of and was great. Just like I would expect him to. I mean, it was a really good conversation. It gave me some encouragement. We had a good heart-to-heart talk like he did with all of us. I was very appreciative of that. It meant a lot.”
Did Morris get to talk to the players following the firing?
“I don’t know if that opportunity came about just because of the circumstances,” Lunney said. “It is what it is this day and age. He was able to convey his thoughts in his messages to them. I do know that. It moved pretty quickly with Hunter meeting with him and being up in front of them.”
Wednesday was Arkansas’ first practice since Morris’ dismissal. How did it go?
“I think it was a good practice,” Morris said. “It was just a practice. You don’t want to ever minimize them, but you don’t ever want to put too much emphasis on them either. Every one of them matters. Our challenge, as I think I made clear with the media and the people inside these walls, that our goal is to play our best game that we’ve played all year long.
“That’s our goal. And the only way to do that, like I told them yesterday, was to make yesterday our best practice that we’ve had all year. There’s only one pathway to that. It’s to have our best practice that we’ve had all year long. So guess what I told them today? Today we need to have our best practice that we’ve had all year long in order to play our best when we go to Baton Rouge. So that’s really how we approach it.”
Arkansas will return to practice on Sunday. The Hogs will face No. 1 LSU on Saturday, Nov. 23, in Baton Rouge. It will be a 6 p.m. kickoff.