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WALLY HALL: It's time to talk about QBs, not pandemic

by Wally Hall | July 26, 2020 at 8:53 a.m.

A year ago the debate had been raging for weeks, maybe months.

Who would be the starting quarterback for the University of Arkansas.

A strong case was made for Ben Hicks, who had played for Chad Morris at SMU, so he knew the offense and all the verbiage.

He had set some records. He was already a graduate.

If there was a red flag it was that under Sonny Dykes, who replaced Morris as the Mustangs' head coach, he did lose his starting job for part of his senior season.

An equally strong case could be made Nick Starkel who transferred from Texas A&M. Starkel had passed for 1,793 yards as a freshman, completing 123 of 205 passes.

He had 14 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Plus, he had competed in the SEC.

A red flag was as a sophomore he lost the starting job.

Midway through last year's fall camp it seemed Morris was favoring his former quarterback Hicks over the stronger armed Starkel.

Hicks started the first two, and then Starkel the next four.

Neither was impressive, although Starkel did show how strong his arm was against San Jose State when he hit five defenders in the numbers.

The five interceptions helped San Jose State to a shocking 31-24 win in Fayetteville.

When Auburn r0lled into Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Hicks started again and, after a 51-10 loss to the Tigers the argument took on more heat that included freshmen K.J. Jefferson and John Stephen Jones.

Jones came off the bench against Alabama and hit 6 of 7 passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 14 yards.

Fresh off a loss to Western Kentucky, 45-19, with LSU and Missouri looming large, Morris was fired and the quarterback situation took a huge turn under interim head coach Barry Lunney Jr.

Jefferson was the starter. Starkel got in, and then Lunney went with his gut and inserted walk-on Jack Lindsey.

Against LSU, Lindsey hit 3 of 4 passes for 51 yards and ran 3 times for another 30 yards. He threw the lone passing touchdown to Mike Woods.

Against Missouri, Lindsey got the start and hit 10-26 passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns, and ran four times for 50 yards.

In the end, it was obvious the early arguments should have included Lindsey, Jones and Jefferson. Hicks and Starkel were not better than those three. All five got starts.

Now, if it weren't for the coronavirus and the big debate being will be there be a football season, the argument might be who will be the starting quarterback.

Another transfer, Feleipe Franks, has been penciled in as the starter.

Franks came from Florida where the four-star recruit was a two-year starter before an injury sidelined him three games into his junior year, all wins, and he would not figure into the Gators' long-term future.

In 27 games for Florida, the 6-5, 235-pound Franks completed 367 of his 622 attempts for 4,593 yards with 38 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

By all accounts, he is an athlete who can get yards running, too. He was drafted in 2019 by the Boston Red Sox despite not having played baseball since high school.

If there is a season it would seem the one sure thing, Sam Pittman can count on his quarterback not being intimidated.

Franks has gone into some of the most hostile environments in the SEC and competed.

Much of the talk this summer concerning Razorback football should have been centered around Feleipe Franks and the returning quarterbacks, but instead, the subject has been and continues to be whether or not covid-19 will steal the show for the 2020 season.


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