Hogs name Hicks as starter

The Saline Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By Nate Allen

FAYETTEVIL­LE — Time, ex­pe­ri­ence and youth all sided with Ben Hicks to be the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs’ start­ing quarterbac­k in Satur­day’s sea­son-opener against the Port­land State Vik­ings.

Arkansas Coach Chad Mor­ris, presiding over a pre­sea­son quarterbac­k bat­tle between grad­u­ate trans­fer Hicks via SMU and grad­u­ate trans­fer Nick Starkel via Texas A&M on Mon­day an­nounced Hicks starts Satur­day’s 3 p.m. SEC Net­work tele­vised game at Reynolds Ra­zor­back Sta­dium.

Starkel, trans­fer­ring with two years Ra­zor­backs’ el­i­gi­bil­ity to Hicks’ one, has the stronger arm, Mor­ris ac­knowl­edged, but didn’t ar­rive in Fayettevil­le until June.

Hicks has three years in for­mer SMU Coach Mor­ris’ of­fense, one as a red­shirt and two years as Mor­ris start­ing SMU quarterbac­k. He trans­ferred to the UA last Jan­uary reign­ing the un­ques­tioned No. 1 quarterbac­k through­out spring prac­tice for a young team be­come younger. For re­ceivers, the Ra­zor­backs start two true fresh­men, Trey Knox and Trey­lon Burks, and a sopho­more let­ter­man Mike Woods with se­nior Deon Stewart out for the sea­son with ma­jor knee surgery and ju­nior Jor­dan Jones (high an­kle sprain) side­lined in­def­i­nitely.

“Ben has earned the right to start,” Mor­ris said. “Ben has been in this of­fense for three years and has an in­cred­i­ble com­mand for ev­ery­one and where ev­ery­one should be. We’re go­ing to play a lot of young guys. Ben’s been here since Jan­uary. Nick has been in this of­fense for three weeks. To see the growth of what Nick has done for three weeks has been ex­tremely

im­pres­sive.”

Mor­ris re­it­er­ated “the main de­cid­ing fac­tor is “Ben’s over­all un­der­stand­ing of where every­body needed to be.”

Mor­ris and of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor/quar­ter­backs coach Joe Crad­dock, who coached for Mor­ris at SMU, both said it’s their in­ten­tion to work Starkel into Satur­day’s game.

“We’ve def­i­nitely got to con­tinue to get Nick’s ex­pe­ri­ence up,” Mor­ris said. “The game will dic­tate a lot. But I do an­tic­i­pate hav­ing an op­por­tu­nity to play ad­di­tional quar­ter­backs.” Crad­dock plans on it. “We’ve got to get him (Starkel) ready,” Crad­dock said. “This is a long sea­son in the SEC West. He’s got to be ready to go.”

But for starters, Crad­dock said, “We feel that Ben gives us the best chance to win right now be­cause he can re­ally get every­body go­ing in the right way.”

Af­ter lower (FCS) di­vi­sion Port­land State, the Ra­zor­backs on Sept. 7 open their SEC sea­son at SEC West ri­val Ole Miss in Ox­ford, Mis­sis­sippi.

Knox is listed to start though he hasn’t prac­ticed since the Aug. 17 scrim­mage be­cause of an undis­closed ill­ness and won’t re­sume prac­tice until Wednesday, Mor­ris and Crad­dock said.

“If he would have just showed up in June I would be con­cerned about it,” Crad­dock said, not­ing De­cem­ber high school grad­u­ate Knox en­rolled at the UA last Jan­uary and ex­celled in spring prac­tice. “But hon­estly I don’t have any con­cerns about Trey. He prob­a­bly picked up our of­fense faster than any of the other fresh­men that I’ve ever seen. He’ll be a lit­tle rusty and prob­a­bly a lit­tle out of shape go­ing into the first game, but it’s crit­i­cal we can get him ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Se­nior tight end Cheyenne O’grady out for two weeks since arthro­scopic knee surgery, also will at­tempt to re­sume drills Wednesday.

Ju­nior Grayson Gunter and se­nior Chase Har­rell have posted im­pres­sive pre­sea­sons at tight end, Crad­dock said.

Se­nior start­ing left of­fen­sive tackle Colton Jack­son of Con­way, in and out of prac­tice the last two weeks with a foot in­jury, prac­ticed Sun­day, Mor­ris and Crad­dock said and should start free­ing ju­nior-col­lege trans­fer My­ron Cun­ning­ham from left tackle to start at right guard. The re­main­ing start­ing line has se­nior Austin Capps of Star City, re­cov­ered from re­cent arthro­scopic knee surgery, at left guard, ju­nior Ty Clary of Fayettevil­le at cen­ter and third-year sopho­more Dal­ton Wag­ner at right tackle.

Ju­nior Ra­keem Boyd and se­nior Devwah Wha­ley re­turn as the top two run­ning backs.

T.J. Ham­monds, the fourth-year ju­nior run­ning back from Joe T. Robin­son de­parted from the team last win­ter and re­turned to the squad in the sum­mer, will not play in the sea­son’s first four games, Mor­ris said Mon­day.

Ham­monds cur­rently prac­tices with the scout team.

Ham­monds qual­i­fied to red­shirt with the max­i­mum four games in a sea­son to red­shirt rule last sea­son. He net­ted 28 yards on 10 car­ries and caught four passes for 84 yards and a touch­down in four games last year un­der Mor­ris.

Un­der for­mer Coach Bret Bielema, Ham­monds net­ted 88 yards with a touch­down on 15 car­ries in 2016 and for 2017 262, 119 against Coastal Carolina, on 32 car­ries with a touch­down and caught two passes with a touch­down for 64 yards.

Mor­ris said he in­tends using both his pun­ters, for­mer Van­der­bilt punter Sam Loy trans­ferred from Colorado and sopho­more Reid Bauer.

The first-team de­fense that de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor John Chavis had for the first pre­sea­son prac­tice of Aug. 3 starts this sea­son-open­ing game week in­tact.

“Some of the best teams I’ve been around are the ones who started al­most ev­ery sin­gle week the same 11,” Chavis said.

Chavis has co­or­di­nated de­fenses on some great teams in­clud­ing the Ten­nessee Vol­un­teers 1998 na­tional cham­pi­ons plus

SEC de­fenses at LSU and Texas A&M.

The cur­rent start­ing de­fense in­cludes se­nior ends Do­rian Ger­ald and Gabe Richard­son, se­nior tack­les Sosa Agim and T.J. Smith, lineback­ers Scoota Har­ris and Bumper Pool, fresh­man nickel back

Greg Brooks or strong­side line­backer Hay­den Henry, de­pend­ing on the align­ment, and the sec­ondary of sopho­more cor­ner­backs Jar­ques Mc­clel­lion and Buster Brown, and safeties Kam­ren Curl and Joe Foucha.

Arkansas, Cincin­nati agree to non­con­fer­ence matchup

Arkansas and Cincin­nati have agreed to a one-game non­con­fer­ence matchup slated for 2022 in Fayettevil­le.

The Ra­zor­backs will host the Bear­kats on Satur­day, Sept. 3, 2022, at Don­ald W. Reynolds Ra­zor­back Sta­dium. The Ra­zor­backs are 121-54-8 all-time against cur­rent mem­bers of the Amer­i­can con­fer­ence, re­cently tak­ing on Tulsa in a 23-0 vic­tory last sea­son on home­com­ing.

Arkansas is set to open the sec­ond year un­der head coach Chad Mor­ris and the 2019 sea­son at home against Port­land State on Aug. 31 in­side Don­ald W. Reynolds Ra­zor­back Sta­dium. Sin­glegame tick­ets are on sale for Satur­day’s game and the en­tire 2019 home sched­ule and can be pur­chased by call­ing 479.575.5151 or vis­it­ing arkansas­ra­zor­backs.com.

CRAVEN WHITLOW/ Nate Allen Sports Ser­vice

Ra­zor­back se­nior quarterbac­k Ben Hicks throws a pass dur­ing the Ra­zor­backs’ Beanie Bowl Satur­day af­ter­noon at Ra­zor­back Sta­dium in Fayettevil­le. Arkansas Coach Chad Mor­ris named Hicks the Hogs’ start­ing quarterbac­k for Satur­day’s sea­son-opener against Port­land State.

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