Hogs QB still un­named af­ter last scrim­mage

The Saline Courier - - SPORT - By Nate Allen

FAYETTEVIL­LE Though he’s Arkansas of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor/ quar­ter­backs coach, Joe Crad­dock re­it­er­ated Chad Mor­ris’s as­ser­tion that the head coach has “one more vote than any­body else” on his Ra­zor­backs staff.

So with Mor­ris do­ing his ra­dio show Wed­nes­day night and due to ad­dress me­dia af­ter this morn­ing’s prac­tice, Crad­dock wasn’t about to hint whether grad­u­ate trans­fer from SMU

Ben Hicks or grad­u­ate trans­fer from Texas A&M Nick Starkel has moved ahead to be the start­ing quar­ter­back for Arkansas’ Aug. 31 sea­son-opener against Port­land State at Reynolds Ra­zor­back Sta­dium.

Crad­dock and de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor John Chavis ad­dressed me­dia Wed­nes­day evening af­ter the Ra­zor­backs held an 80-play scrim­mage in­doors at the Walker Pavil­ion be­cause of light­ning ac­com­pa­nied rain when the scrim­mage was sup­posed to start late in the af­ter­noon.

“Hope­fully sooner than later we’ll be able to name some­body,” Crad­dock said. “I know coach has his ra­dio show tonight … and some other things. It prob­a­bly won’t be in the next cou­ple of days I would imag­ine. But we’ll try to get some­body named here pretty soon. Who­ever we de­cide to go with they’ve got to be in a po­si­tion to lead our of­fense and get our unit in the end zone. That’s the main thing.”

With Hicks, whom

Mor­ris and Crad­dock re­cruited to SMU in 2015 and was their start­ing SMU quar­ter­back in 2016 and 2017, and Starkel, who has been an SEC starter at Texas A&M, Crad­dock said the Hogs are ahead of the quar­ter­back­ing game com­pared to when Mor­ris and Crad­dock coach­ing the 2018 Ra­zor­backs in­her­it­ing since trans­ferred lesser ex­pe­ri­enced quar­ter­backs who played in an en­tirely dif­fer­ent sys­tem un­der for­mer Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema.

“I feel con­fi­dent and here’s why,” Crad­dock said. “Ob­vi­ously Ben’s been in the sys­tem for sev­eral years. Nick has come in and learned it very quickly. I’ve been very im­pressed with how in­tel­li­gent he is and how quickly he’s picked up our of­fense.”

Crad­dock said the 80-play scrim­mage kept the quar­ter­backs and a lot of first-team play­ers limited with game-week ap­proach­ing and sev­eral Ra­zor­backs banged up and two, se­nior re­ceiver/punt re­turner Deon Ste­wart and red­shirt fresh­man of­fen­sive tackle Noah Gatlin, lost for the sea­son with knee in­juries dur­ing the pre­sea­son prac­tices that com­menced Aug. 3.

“Ob­vi­ously we limited some guys to­day,” Crad­dock said. “We were hold­ing some guys out on the of­fen­sive line, at re­ceiver and at run­ning back.we couldn’t af­ford to lose any­body else. It feels like ev­ery time we go scrim­mage we lose a cou­ple of guys. To­day was good be­cause we didn’t get any­body hurt. That was the main fo­cus of to­day, make sure we get good work, but keep ev­ery­body healthy.”

Chavis dit­toed that the de­fense came through Wed­nes­day’s scrim­mage in good health.

Chavis’ first-team de­fense seems set but com­pe­ti­tion abounds on the sec­ond unit. Many are fresh­men, whom Chavis is loathe to dis­cuss un­til they’ve played, but Chavis praised them with­out ac­tu­ally nam­ing them.

Fresh­men de­fen­sive line­men Tau­rean Carter and Mar­cus Miller in­side at D-tackle, and de­fen­sive ends Mataio Soli and Collin Clay com­pete for sec­ondteam time.

Chavis did cite two of his vet­eran back­ups, fourthyear ju­nior Grant Mor­gan of Greenwood play­ing be­hind se­nior mid­dle line­backer Scoota Har­ris, and ju­nior Hay­den Henry of Lit­tle Rock and Pu­laski Academy who plays be­hind weak­side Will start­ing line­backer Bumper Pool while also work­ing at strong­side Sam line­backer when Chavis em­ploys a true 4-3 rather than us­ing a nickel back in a five-man sec­ondary.

“Ob­vi­ously Scoota’s a great player,” Chavis said. “But we can put Grant Mor­gan in there and it doesn’t drop off that much. We’ve worked Hay­den Henry a bunch at Will line­backer. He’s ready to play there. Ob­vi­ously, if we’re go­ing to be in a three-line­backer scheme, he’s our start­ing Sam ‘backer.”

Chavis also men­tioned ju­nior D’vone Mc­clure of Jack­sonville at Will and Sam line­backer.

Be­fore re­moved af­ter the prac­tice’s first 20 min­utes, me­dia saw se­nior

Lou Groza Award Watch List place-kicker Connor Lim­pert kick a 56-yard field goal and saw the blur of ei­ther de­fen­sive tackle Sosa Agim or safety Kam­ren Curl block a Matthew Phillips field goal at­tempt.

The Ra­zor­backs re­main­ing last pre­sea­son week’s itin­er­ary in­cludes this morn­ing’s light prac­tice, some con­tact work in

Fri­day’s en­tirely closed prac­tice and Satur­day’s non­con­tact dress re­hearsal Beanie Bowl.

Crad­dock of­fered a poignantly emo­tional re­ply Wed­nes­day when asked about Wendy An­der­son, the wife of Arkansas State Coach Blake An­der­son, dy­ing this week af­ter a long, hard bat­tle with cancer.

Blake An­der­son was the Mid­dle Ten­nessee

State Uni­ver­sity as­sis­tant who re­cruited Crad­dock to quar­ter­back MTSU.

“Miss Wendy was a great per­son,” Crad­dock said. “I re­mem­ber her through the re­cruit­ing process. I re­mem­ber her be­ing around a lot with the team. She fought re­ally, re­ally hard. My heart goes out for Coach. I would not be stand­ing here in front of you to­day with­out Blake An­der­son giv­ing me a shot to play col­lege foot­ball. I know Coach will bounce back and go through the griev­ing process, but it’s re­ally sad.”

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