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September 19, 2018

QB remains concern for Razorbacks

By Nate Allen
This article was published September 12, 2018 at 4:00 a.m.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas head coach Chad Morris and offensive coordinator Joe Craddock both assert one complete quarterback would be better than two incomplete ones.

Then again, having two who have played sure beats having just one if they went down with an injury. Morris and Craddock, also the quarterbacks coach, now go into the third game of the season still evaluating who will start.

It seems they still figure both will play Saturday when Arkansas (1-1) hosts North Texas (2-0) at 3 p.m. at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The game is scheduled to be televised on the SEC Network's alternate channel.

Third-year sophomore Cole Kelley started the Sept. 1 season opener, but it was fourth-year junior Ty Storey who was most effective in the 55-20 victory over Eastern Illinois in Fayetteville. Storey started on Saturday in Fort Collins, Colo., but he was replaced by Kelley, who had a big third quarter against Colorado State (1-2).

Kelley and the Razorback defense faded in the fourth quarter. Arkansas led, 27-9, midway through the third quarter of a 34-27 defeat at Canvas Stadium.

Morris said he and Craddock are still deciding on their main quarterback. Morris was the offensive coordinator at Tulsa and Clemson after 16 years as a high school coach in Texas. Craddock was a graduate assistant at Clemson under coach Dabo Swinney before becoming offensive coordinator at SMU for Morris.

"We did that several years ago in my last year (2014) at Clemson," Morris said. "We were still rotating quarterbacks all the way into conference play until we found the guy who was going to lead this football team. And he did."

The quarterback was Deshaun Watson, who led the Tigers to the 2015 national championship game and the 2016 national title. Senior Cole Stoudt played in all 13 games for Clemson in 2014, while Watson played in only eight as a freshman.

"Our last year at Clemson, that sort of a similar deal with Cole Stoudt and Deshaun Watson," Craddock said. "Cole was doing a nice job and I think Deshaun was getting some reps and doing some good things as and eventually Deshaun took over but then got hurt. Then, Cole had to be ready to come back in."

Arkansas looks for Storey and Kelley to take command before the Razorbacks open Southeastern Conference play on Sept. 22 at Auburn (2-0).

"Playing two quarterbacks is really not something I want to do," Morris said. "But it's something right now until we can get that guy who can get this team moving and getting us on schedule and creating the momentum and the spark it's going to take. I hope to settle in and get a guy going. Our intent last week was to play both if the circumstance presented itself. I thought coming in to the second half we needed a spark."

Kelley threw a 25-yard touchdown pass on his first throw and was credited with a touchdown on his second, a 64-yard pop pass to junior running back T.J. Hammonds.

"We came out and got the spark," Morris said. But we couldn't sustain the success. Snapping the ball eight times in the fourth quarter was just not acceptable," Morris said.

How urgent to have one of them unequivocally the top gun going into Auburn, Ala.?

"You know, at some point we're going to find the guy and we're going to run with it," Morris said. If it's this week, it's this week. If it's next week, it's next week, but it'll be at the right time. Hopefully one those guys emerges and then we can stick with them."

The team's reserves include redshirt freshman Daulton Hyatt and true freshmen Connor Noland, of Greenwood, and John Stephen Jones, the grandson of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and son of Cowboys executive Stephen Jones.

"These guys still get reps in practice, and we'll do that all year along," Morris said. "They've got to be ready when an opportunity presents itself -- if it does. Cole and Ty will continue to battle this week."

Noland and Jones are on course to redshirt. Craddock said, for now, Noland is the "third quarterback."

Sports on 09/12/2018

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