Hog Calls:

The sky is not falling on Razorback football

By: Nate Allen
Published: Saturday, April 14, 2018
Arkansas quarterback Cole Kelley (15) throws a pass during the Razorbacks' spring game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Little Rock.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas quarterback Cole Kelley (15) throws a pass during the Razorbacks' spring game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Little Rock.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Listening to some sports talk radio call-ins the spring football sky has fallen on the Arkansas Razorbacks.

They have no quarterback. Last Saturday's Red-White intrasquad spring game in Little Rock just proved it.

Incoming freshmen, redshirt freshmen, maybe a walk-on, somebody better flash into the August preseason ready to start because the older quarterbacks they count on - well maybe intramurals.

If you think you've heard this before, it's because you probably have.

Especially if you were in Arkansas in 2014.

For Ty Storey and Cole Kelley, formerly much anticipated Razorbacks quarterbacks flavors of the month but soured in some fan estimates under this spring's spotlight, just go back to the 2014 post Red-White game aftermath and substitute Brandon Allen.

Allen already had paid a no good deed goes unpunished price. He was criticized even while courageously playing through a separated shoulder on his throwing arm as the beleaguered Razorbacks, bequeathed in 2013 disarray by former interim Coach John L. Smith to now former Coach Bret Bielema, didn't win a SEC game.

Allen's struggling first half during the 2014 Red-White game all summer kept the natives restless for quarterback change, it seemed.

Fortunately for Arkansas, Bielema stuck with Allen, in 2014 and 2015 quarterbacking the Razorbacks to winning seasons and winning bowl games become a NCAA passing leader and NFL quarterback.

Certainly neither fourth-year junior Storey of Charleston nor third-year sophomore Kelley of Lafayette, La. passed for Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or even Brandon Allen last Saturday, but new Coach Chad Morris keeps it in total first spring perspective. Especially thrusting a hurry-up Spread system on holdover quarterbacks unlike what Kelley and Storey operated as Bielema's backups for since graduated 2016 and 2017 starter Austin Allen.

"Fifteen practices with these guys, did I expect them to come out looking as sharp as you would expect starting it off in August?" Morris asked rhetorically. "Absolutely not. There was a lot of transformation with these guys, too. So we'll see. This will be something that will work itself out."

Inheriting a 4-8 team that went just 1-7 in the SEC, Morris welcomes incoming scholarship freshmen Connor Noland and John Stephen Jones joining redshirt freshman Daulton Hyatt and walk-ons Jack Lindsey, Austin Aune and Connor Proctor in the quarterback, competition.

"If it's a true freshman, it's a true freshman, whichever one gives us the best chance to win," Morris said. "They are competitors. They all understand that."

But as a high school coach 16 years in Texas, five years as a collegiate offensive coordinator then three years head coaching SMU, Morris also understands that spring game formatted vanilla offenses can inhibit a quarterback and that Storey and Kelley have the leg-up experience to command during the unofficial summer workouts as leadership important as the official practices come August.

"Both (Storey and Kelley) bring different strengths and push each other," Morris said. "We've got a good competition."

Maybe even good enough to keep the sky from falling.

Sports on 04/14/2018

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