FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Chad Morris didn’t name a starting quarterback following Tuesday’s practice, but did allow both Nick Starkel and Ben Hicks to meet with the media.
Morris did talk about Tuesday’s practice and who quarterbacked the first-team offense.
“Nick took all the 1s today,” Morris said.
Starkel is a junior grad transfer from Texas A&M while Hicks is a senior from SMU. Hicks played for Morris for three years with the Mustangs including a redshirt season. The Razorbacks will scrimmage on Wednesday and Morris said the first-team snaps won’t all go to one player.
“Yeah, Ben will get some with the 1s tomorrow,’ Morris said. “He’ll probably start the scrimmage out with the 1s tomorrow, but it’ll rotate back and forth. It’ll go Nick and Ben and John Stephen (Jones) and K.J. (Jefferson). They’ll all get some reps tomorrow.”
Starkel talked about getting all the reps with the 1s on Tuesday.
“Yeah, today was good,” Starkel said. “It was really good, moving the football really well. We’re still doing a little split-field stuff, so we’re doing 1s and 3s, and 2s and 4s and we’ve been rotating since camp started. So it was a good day.”
Is the scrimmage tomorrow big and the other quarterbacks since Morris hasn’t named a starter?
“Yeah, I think every scrimmage is big, especially for the quarterback position and just being able to feel what it’s like to be in a game almost, with them,” Starkel said. “The last scrimmage was a little different. A lot of first downs and didn’t really get a feel for how the offense could work when you get a drive going. But I think tomorrow is going to be a really good sense of how we can get our tempo going and everything.”
The media are making a big deal about the quarterback battle, but how are you guys handling it?
“It’s not really even talked about in the room,” Starkel said. “We’ve been rotating, same rotation since Day 1. And we know coach is evaluating everything we do. We’ve just been on our toes and attacking everything.”
Though it would be easy to theorize that Starkel is the starter since he got all the work with the 1s on Tuesday, but he talked about that on Tuesday. He was asked if this is first time he has gotten all the work with the 1s?
“No it wasn’t,” Starkel said. “We’ve been splitting. Every day has been different. He’ll go with them Monday, I’ll go Tuesday. He’s Wednesday. I’m Thursday. It’s just every day we’ve been switching the whole camp.”
Hicks talked about the tight competition for the job.
“Yeah, we’ve all done some good things,” Hicks said. “That’s up to Coach Morris and Coach (Joe) Craddock. I feel like I’ve done my job and that’s what I’m trying to do every day at camp. Just do my job and take it one day at a time and see what happens when they make that decision.”
The former SMU quarterback talked about the competition and how that helps all the ones competing for the job.
“I think anytime you’ve got competition it makes you better and pushes you,” Hicks said. “So it’s been good having everyone in that room pushing me every single day and I think its been good for them. We’re all in here pushing each other every day so I think it’s been good for everybody, and healthy for everybody. I thin we’ve all gotten better in the fall.”
Hicks was asked when he thinks the coaches might name a starting quarterback?
“I think again they are just trying to go by practice every single day and when that decision’s made, the decision’s made and we’ll live with it and go on and try and make the best of the situation,” Hicks said. “We’ll take it one day and when they make that decision that will be the decision that they make.”
Hicks also talked about what he feels are his strengths.
“I just think I have a knowledge of the offense and just trying to get the ball out of my hands as quickly as possible and give it to the guys in space is something I take pride in,” Hicks said. “I’ve got a lot to continue to work on, but I think my knowledge of the offense is as good as it’s been (and I’m) trying to keep that up throughout the rest of camp and into the fall.”
Starkel wasn’t at Arkansas in the spring like Hicks was. He talked about what he has had to brush up on the most since arriving in June.
“Definitely my timing,” Starkel said. “I felt like I needed to work on my timing and my footwork. Mainly my foot placement, being able to go from handing the ball off to if I pull it, being able to pull up and have my feet set already to throw. That’s been the biggest thing for me, just really the footwork and knowing where to put my feet. How to not get stepped on by a running back when they’re taking their tracks and stuff like that. And I think I’ve done a good job progressing in that so far through camp.”
Starkel was also asked about the competition at quarterback and if he feels it’s good to have someone pushing you or be the unquestioned starter?
“I think in the offseason it’s always good to have someone that you’re competing against the whole time, but during the season I think you’ve got to have that confidence as a starter and not have to worry week-to-week,” Starkel said. “I’ve seen it both ways, though. And I want to be a coach one day, and as a player I feel like I have more confidence whenever it’s not a, ‘You don’t know if you’re starting until the day before the game every week.’ Now, I understand the first game is a little different because you don’t know who your starter is yet. But week-to-week, I don’t like that really — every week kind of question mark.”
While Hicks had the three years with Morris and Craddock at SMU and Starkel arrived in June, Morris doesn’t feel that Starkel is behind in the offense as much as one might expect.
“I think I’ve been very impressed and pleased with the way Nick has grasped the offense since coming in here in June,” Morris said. “I think that that may be part of something that may have kept him back a little bit, but he’s done a really good job of that. He is extremely intelligent. You would expect both of them to be, they’re both college grads. He’s progressed really well. I think there are some things at times, Ben being in the offense a little bit longer, at times it really shows. But, I’ve been pleased with the way Nick has progressed in working that.”
Arkansas will scrimmage on Wednesday.