Arkansas quarterback question to linger until August
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — New Arkansas coach Chad Morris doesn’t know yet who the starting quarterback will be when September’s season opener comes around.
Whether Morris is holding off naming a starter until August as a motivational tactic, or because returners Cole Kelley and Ty Storey could possibly be pushed by an incoming freshman, is anyone’s best guess.
However, it is clear that the current quarterbacks have a long way to go with running Morris’ up-tempo offense — a stark contrast to the pro-style approach used by former coach Bret Bielema the last five seasons.
“They are all pushing each other at that position ... There is nobody set at a position,” Morris said. “We’re wide open. If it’s a true freshman, it’s a true freshman, whichever one gives us the best chance to win. They all understand that.”
The Razorbacks closed out their spring this week with a pair of practices following the school’s scrimmage in Little Rock last weekend. During the game, Kelley and Storey combined to complete 17 of 33 passes for 252 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Both had their highlights, with Storey throwing a 53-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and Kelley adding a 34-yard completion to go along with his 5-yard scoring throw. However, they also struggled at times with their accuracy — showing just how far Arkansas has to go in finding a replacement for Austin Allen.
Inconsistency has been a theme throughout the spring, one of the reasons Morris has said he will hold off naming a starter.
“At times you have a guy do really, really well, have a really good day,” offensive coordinator Joe Craddock said. “And then at times you’ll have that same guy, he’ll kind of have not as good a day. The thing I’m really preaching to those guys right now is, ‘Who’s going to be consistent?’”
Kelley has the experience edge over Storey after starting four games last season as a freshman in place of an injured Allen, who graduated. He completed 57.6 percent of his passes during his time on the field, throwing eight touchdowns and four interceptions, and the 6-foot-7, 263-pound quarterback rushed for an average of 8.2 yards per carry.
However, Kelley started his offseason early last year after being arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. He has spent part of the spring earning the trust of his teammates and new coaches.
Storey has seen only limited action during his two seasons. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior was behind Kelley on the depth chart last season under Bielema, but he’s excelled in learning the new offense since Morris was hired.
“I feel good. It’s fun, most of all it’s just fun to get out there in this offense,” Storey said. “There’s so much stuff going on, and they really have to cover everybody, so that’s what I’m enjoying the most about this.”
While Kelley and Storey have earned the majority of the snaps this spring, Morris said they could be pushed by several incoming freshmen in the fall — including in-state product Connor Noland. Morris also didn’t dismiss the idea that Arkansas could look for a transfer quarterback who could be eligible to play immediately next season.
“We’ll wait and see on that,” Morris said. “But right now, we’ve got a good battle going there.”
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