Ty Storey / Photo: ArkansasRazorbacks.com
SEC football analyst Chris Doering stirred the pot earlier this week on the Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly radio show when giving his impression of Arkansas’ quarterback situation after working the Razorbacks Red-White scrimmage last Saturday and spending some time with head coach Chad Morris and the Arkansas coaching staff in preparation for the gig.
“I don’t know that they are even convinced that they have the quarterback on campus right now who is going to be starting next year,” Doering said to Mattingly. “I think they have been open to the idea that Connor Noland or John Stephen Jones might be the guy. It’s two guys they recruited who they think fit very well into what they do from a schematic standpoint. It’s not ideal to have a true freshman quarterback leading your offense, but at the same time these two have some experience playing in similar offenses. I don’t think it is beyond belief it could be one of these two freshmen coming in.”
As a Hog fan that’s not really the assessment you’d like to hear, but anything else would be less than truthful about the situation the Razorbacks are facing.
Neither Ty Storey nor Cole Kelley distinguished themselves in the Red-White scrimmage. Neither played poorly, but the walkaway is that there is a lot of work to be done before a starting quarterback can be named.
Some liked the work of Daulton Hyatt and Jack Lindsey in the second half. Hyatt did look quick, and Lindsey did make good decisions in the run-pass option component of the offense. However, you do have to consider they were working against the third-team defense and beyond.
Even if Morris was confident in Storey or Kelley as the starter, it wouldn’t behoove him to announce it at this time. From the little we’ve been able to observe and hear about his program, it seems Morris likes to keep his players on edge. Now, he’s not like Bobby Petrino, whom the players actively avoided when they could, but Morris’ program isn’t about comfort either. He wants energy and enthusiasm, and he gets that by challenging his players to do their best daily.
Being challenged isn’t comfortable. It keeps you on edge, but it tends to bring out the best in those that have a competitive spirit.
Morris challenged his players Wednesday when he reiterated that all positions — not just quarterback — are unsettled going into preseason workouts, and I’d imagine they won’t be settled even during season when players fail to perform at acceptable levels.
By keeping all positions open returning players know they had better improve over the summer or another may get leapfrogged. The incoming freshman also know they have a shot to play if they are good enough to take playing time away from older players. That knowledge should inspire all involved.
That said, the Hogs who went through spring drills are well ahead of the incoming freshmen on so many levels on and off the field. If a freshman earns a starting spot for the first game, it’s a red flag for a lack of depth and talent, no matter how talented the freshman may be.
And that might be the case for the Razorbacks at quarterback and perhaps other positions, too.
Gamecocks peck Arkansas, 3-2
The No. 3 Arkansas Razorbacks’ six-game, SEC home winning streak came to an end Thursday when South Carolina topped the Hogs, 3-2 at Baum Stadium.
The loss dropped Arkansas to 25-10 on the season and 8-5 in SEC play. The series continues tonight at 6:30 with Kasey Murphy (4-2, 3.21 ERA) on the mound for the Hogs and Adam Hill (3-3, 4.7 9ERA) for the Gamecocks. The game will be streamed on SEC Network Plus.
The Hogs outhit the Gamecocks 13-12, but could not get timely hits, stranding 12 runners. The Hogs had the bases loaded in four innings, but their capable batting lineup couldn’t break through.
Leading 2-1 in the fifth, the Razorbacks surrendered a two-run home run to Carlos Cortes, which proved to be the game winner.
The Razorbacks had Eric Cole on first with two outs in the ninth, but Luke Bonfield just missed beating out a throw from third for the final out.
Though the Hogs lost road series to Florida and Ole Miss this season, Thursday was their first loss in the opening game of an SEC series this year. Ace Blaine Knight only threw four innings and just 70 pitches for the Razorbacks, but Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said he was not injured when he came out of the game.