FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The quarterback battle at Arkansas lives on for at least a few more days following the second scrimmage of the preseason.
Chad Morris was obviously asked about the quarterback situation when he met with the media following the closed scrimmage.
“I thought our quarterbacks played well,” Morris said. “I thought that John Stephen Jones continues to impress. He did some really good things. He actually had a situation with the ones in a two-minute offense and led them down and had to score a touchdown to win the game, and he did it. I was very impressed with him.
“I thought Nick Starkel probably had one of his better days. That was good to see. I thought Ben (Hicks) made some really nice checks and some good throws today.”
According to Morris, Starkel had three touchdown passes and an interception. Hicks had a touchdown pass and one interception while Jones threw a touchdown pass too.
Morris addressed what happened on the two interceptions.
“Ben was backed up and just made a bad decision,” Morris said. “He should have thrown the ball away. He didn’t, threw it up. We can’t have that. It was on a third down.
“I believe Joe’s (Foucha) off of Nick I believe it was a tipped ball right there at the end.”
Wide receiver De’Vion Warren catches passes from the quarterbacks. He was asked who looks the best there?
“It’s a tough battle,” Warren said. “Like I said, they have their good days and their bad days. Today was pretty even and both were making good plays. Even John Stephen was making good plays with his feet and his arm. It was an even battle today.”
Warren had some fun with Starkel when asked who threw him his touchdown pass today?
“That was Mr. Starkel,” Warren said smiling. “Mr. Stress Man. If you ever see him in his shoulder pads it looks like he don’t have no neck.”
Morris was asked if he was closer to naming a starting quarterback following Saturday’s scrimmage?
“I’ll watch the film and see,” Morris said. “I don’t think we’re, I don’t know the exact time we’re going to name him, or name a starter. I want to go through definitely Wednesday and see where we’re at.
“We’ve got some work that we’ll do later in the week on Friday before we have our mock game out here on Saturday. So it’ll be some live situational work on Friday too. We’re getting closer, but again, we’re evaluating it.”
It seemed that Hicks took command of the quarterback job in the spring, but Morris was asked has Starkel made it a harder decision for him?
“I don’t think so,” Morris said. “I knew it was going to be a tough decision. It’ll be the right decision. Whatever decision we make will be the right decision. What I love about it is it’s just elevating this entire football team. No. I would never look at this as tough, being something tough. I think this is a huge positive for this football team. Because it’s making everybody in that room better.
“Nick’s doing that. Ben is doing that. Ben’s doing some really good things now. And then just to watch the progression of John Stephen Jones. The guy’s a player. He gets out there and just there’s a lot of really good things happening. You know. This is two weeks in a row I’ve seen this in this group. So we’ll see. We’ll keep pushing and I do know this, they’re earning a lot of respect from this football team for the hard work they’re putting in, like everybody else.”
Morris was even asked if he has secretly decided on the quarterback, but just declining to say so?
“No, I have not,” Morris said. “We’ve got a lot of evaluating that we’ve done, and it just depends on what day you ask me on. Some days it’s, you know, it’s one some days the other. Right now, these guys are working their tail off. They’re working hard.”
Morris talked about the process that goes into naming a starting quarterback.
“We’ve got a lot of other things we’ve got to fret about,” Morris said. “We’re going to get in there, and we’ll take a series of everything that matters leading up to the point and go, ‘Hey, look, this is where we’re at right now, and we’ve got to go with it. But I’ll tell you this, it’s going to take them all to win this year. No, it won’t…we’re not going to…we won’t lock ourselves in a room or nothing like that. It’ll be, ‘Here we are, it’s time to go.’”
Ty Clary is the center who snaps to the quarterbacks. He too was asked about his thoughts on the battle.
“I love the competition back there,” Clary said. “Competition breeds success.I focus on doing my job and making sure they have time to throw the ball.They both look good to me.”
How are Starkel and Hicks different?
“I would say Ben is just a little bit more vocal,” Clary said. “But he’s been in that system a lot longer. Other than that it’s pretty much the same. Starkel has that confidence back there that you like to see in a quarterback.”
Clary also was asked would a two-quarterback system be something that would work?
“Typically to my knowledge, I’m not the OC or the head coach, I don’t get to make this decision,” Clary said, “but you kind of want just for the receivers’ sake somebody that they know how the ball is going to come to them every time. And to let the quarterback himself build confidence. It’s kind of harder to build confidence if you split time.”
Joe Foucha talked about the late interception he got in practice off of Starkel.
“We were in dime alignment,” Foucha said. ‘That’s when I go from free safety and play down. I usually blitz, but it was a 3 by 1. Our cornerback tipped the ball up, so it was a good coverage by him and I was just there to make the play happen.”
Who was the cornerback who tipped it?
“Buster Brown,” Foucha said. “Like I said man, he’s aggressive. He’s been showing that the whole camp, that he’s going to be there every time. He gets the job done.”
Arkansas will return to the practice fields on Monday at 4:25 p.m. It will be the first evening practice for the Hogs. They have completed 14 practices at this point.
The Razorbacks will host Portland State on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 3 p.m. in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.