Nick Starkel Reacts to Starting Job This Saturday

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Arkansas quarterback Nick Starkel warms up against Portland State during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019 in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Junior Nick Starkel will get his first start at Arkansas on Saturday against Colorado State.

Following practice Tuesday, Starkel talked about how different it is for him preparing as the starter.

“I think it’s the same preparation every week,” Starkel said. “Everyone in the QB room prepares as they are the starter. Obviously, there’s a guy running with the ones and that’s probably who is gonna start. But it’s really the same preparation for me.

“I have a little more say in the game plan. That’s really big for me. It’s everything I 100-percent know and I know the receivers know 100-percent as well. If you know something 100-percent you will be playing really fast rather than second guessing yourself do I do this or do that? That’s what we’re really look for this week just really playing fast.”

Starkel started the second half against Ole Miss and provided a spark for Arkansas. He admitted though Tuesday there’s a couple of throws he would like to get back including a trick play that went bad.

“Of course, I take full responsibility for that,” Starkel said. “I didn’t know the play that well. I called the protection wrong. Devwah (Whaley) started to go the right way and I sent him the wrong way. And he listened to the quarterback. He did a great job on that even though he knew I was wrong. I wish he had told I was wrong, but everything is on me. I throw it to the wrong guy and it was a forward pass. I’m glad he (Mike Woods) didn’t throw it, but it’s still on me.”

Do you think more time in the system will help you learn those type plays?

“Definitely,” Starkel said. “Being able to rep those every day instead of watching someone rep it is gonna be good for me.”

Do you feel like there was a few plays, seven or so, that if they had gone differently then you guys might have won the game?

“Yeah, you know I’ve had coaches in the past tell me that one play can change a game but you don’t know which play that’s going to be,” Starkel said. “Just like that. We didn’t know that those four or five, six, seven in your case that you’d say, plays would really affect the game like that, but they do.

“Every play matters. That’s the slogan of our team: Every. And hearing coach Morris say that and then going out and playing a game like that and if we had you know just three of those plays the score is completely different.  That’s something that, you know that’s the game of football. And we understand that and we’ve got to capitalize. We’ve got to execute.”

In preseason, you talked about you would like a long leash if you were the starting quarterback?

“I definitely think that’s important,” Starkel said. “And I don’t think that I have a short leash right now with Coach (Chad) Morris. He has full trust in me. Coach (Joe) Craddock has full trust in me. Really all the coaches do. Especially the defensive side of the ball as well. Those guys have my back. And they know that I have theirs. To me that just makes it a lot more easier going out there and I have a lot more confidence.”

Starkel knows he has some weapons at wide receiver in Trey Knox, Treylon Burks and Mike Woods.

“You’ve got some playmakers,” Starkel said of Burks and Knox. “When they know what they’re doing, I mean they’re on. So that’s the point of the game plan this week, is keep it simple with those guys so they can play full speed and just go make plays, like they’ve been making in high school and in college so far. They can definitely catch for sure.

“And you know Mike Woods is a player who’s going to make a lot of plays for us. Not just in this game or this last game, but throughout the whole season. He’s a critical part of our team and I like throwing him the ball and he likes catching it. So he’s definitely going to make more plays for us.”

In addition, senior tight end Cheyenne O’Grady is a weapon Starkel will have this Saturday.

“Oh yeah,” Starkel said. “Oh yeah. People better find a way to cover C.J. He’ll catch back-shoulders balls as you could see. He’ll go over the top of people. He’ll make plays. He’s a great kid to have out there.”

Having transferred from Texas A&M was it meaningful to get SEC snaps again this past Saturday?

“Yeah, I mean every snap is meaningful,” Starkel said. “Shoot, Portland State, you’d think that wasn’t meaningful but it was a one possession game that came down to the very end. So being in the SEC as well, just made me feel like I was back in my spot. I like getting hit. The hits hurt a little harder in the SEC so I like that.”

As far as getting hit, Starkel took a hard lick in his first series on Saturday night.

“That’s part of the game,” Starkel said. “Shoot, if I carry out my run fake good enough they’re going to hit me every time. So that’s just part of the game and I understand. If I didn’t want to get hit I wouldn’t play football.”

It came out that LSU quarterback Joe Burrow bangs his head against the wall before games. Do you have anything like that you do?

“Other than the Bieber stuff, no,” Starkel said. “Not a big fan of hitting my head against the wall. Like I’ll head butt some people with a helmet on but not the wall.”

Arkansas will return to the practice fields on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. The Hogs and Colorado State kickoff at 3 p.m. Saturday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

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