Arkansas will return to junior Ty Storey as the starter on Saturday at Auburn.
Storey started the Colorado State game, but was replaced to start the third quarter by Cole Kelley. Arkansas led 13-9 at the half, but Storey had struggled in the passing game throwing two interceptions. He was 5 of 13 passing for 36 yards with the two picks.
However, with Storey the Hogs ran 49 plays in the first half and thus the defense was off the field a lot. The Arkansas defense limited the Rams to 99 yards in the first half. In the second half, Arkansas ran 26 plays with only two first downs in the final 22 minutes of the game. Colorado State scored on its final four possessions of the game.
Arkansas’ quarterbacks threw six interceptions this past Saturday with Kelley having four of them. Each of the freshmen threw one. Storey didn’t play against North Texas.
Arkansas coach Chad Morris talked about what went into naming Storey the quarterback for Saturday’s game.
“I think the message is that we want to settle on someone,” Morris said. “We came into the game last week with the intent to settle with Cole being there, and that’s why we went with him in the second half. I wanted to see if we could work through some things.
“We got to a point in the second half, especially after the last interception (4th by Kelley) and they go down and kick a field goal that put them up 37-10. I just felt like Ty in in that situation there would have been … I’ve been saying all along I wanted to get the freshmen some reps. And that was an opportunity for us to do that. I just thought that it’s time to go with Ty and give him an even slate as he starts the game.”
How do you think Ty will respond after not playing last week?
I think Ty is a professional,” Morris said. “He is a competitor and as all of them do, they all want to play. So as I shared with him, I wanted to go through the last preparation week of practice, as I shared with you, I thought Cole had the best week and I was content with, let’s see if we can settle in and ride this thing out with Cole.
“This has kind of been the situation we’ve been in [revolving QBs}. We’re going with Ty this week. Regardless of the practice, regardless of the way things go, I wanted him to know straight up from yesterday that, ‘Look, we’re going to go with you, and let’s respond. Now instead of putting you in to where you’re in a tough situation with the momentum not in our favor, how would you respond?’ That was my intent and I shared that with him yesterday. His exact words to me were, ‘Let’s go Coach.’”
Storey came off the bench in the season opener against Eastern Illinois with the Hogs leading 10-0. He was 12 of 17 passing for 261 yards and three touchdowns in two quarters of action. He also ran for 15 yards and a touchdown on three attempts.
In the four quarters that Storey has played this season, the Razorbacks have outscored the competition 51-22. In the eight quarters he hasn’t played, the Hogs have been outscored 66-48. But no matter who is in at quarterback the Hogs have struggled with consistency on offense.
“I think when you look back and we’ve been talking about the quarterback since April and believe me, I want to settle on one,” Morris said. “That’s what I want to do and that’s the direction we’re trying to get to, but there’s been the inconsistencies through that, as well. Right, wrong and indifferent, it’s not all on the quarterbacks, but that comes with that position.”
Some have expressed surprise at how inconsistent the offense has been given Morris’ background and success on that side of the football.
“The one thing that I do know is that, I do know offensive football,” Morris said. “I know what it takes to be successful. I do know what it takes to score points and that’s one of my messages as we go back in and go back to basics. Let’s get good at, if it’s only four things that we can do, then let’s just get good at those four things.
“Maybe we’re not ready to have… Maybe we only get 10 percent of the offense in this year. Then let’s be very effective with 10 percent of that offense we get in. As a coach, as a coordinator, you look at trying to provide answers that when you have deficiencies, where are the answers? We’re always searching for answers. That’s just what we do offensively. We were back in there yesterday and we’re working tirelessly. The entire staff is. I know the frustration and the disappointment. We all feel it. We’re going to get it. We’re working tirelessly to get it and get it right, so we’re going to go back to basics.”
Morris is hoping that Storey can provide some consistency to the offense on Saturday.
“I think Ty, since April or since spring and working all through fall camp, has been efficient and understands the offense, as I’ve said many times,” Morris said. “He’s played in an offense similar to this, knows how to get the ball out of hits hands, get us in the right protections, be able to pull the ball down and run it with his legs at times.”
Against North Texas, true freshman Connor Noland saw his first action of the season. He 4 of 7 for 25 yards with one interception. Morris talked about how he felt Noland did in that game.
“I thought he did some good things,” Morris said. “I thought that to put him in with that situation, as I shared with them, I said, ‘Hey man, just go play. Go play.’ At that point with what the score was, ‘Go play.’ We had a sprint-out called for him on the first play and it wasn’t there and he pulled it down and ran. I think he showed some of his athleticism.
“I thought he did some good things. I know there was a couple of passes that he wishes he would have had. I think we had Grayson (Gunter), the tight end, open down the middle, the seam. Wish we could have driven it on him. But we’ll continue to work these guys.”
John Stephen Jones also played against the Mean Green. Arkansas offensive coordinator Joe Craddock also talked about Storey getting to start on Saturday.
“I’m very excited for Ty,” Craddock said. “To get an opportunity. Obviously we’re going on the road in a hostile environment. He’s gonna have to be ready. It will take a good week of practice. The good thing it’s Monday and we have time to get the game plan in and have him ready to go. I think he will be. He’s very excited. I think he’s gonna do good.”
Obviously some were puzzled on Saturday when Storey didn’t get into the game, but Craddock explained that on Monday.
“Coach Morris told me on the headset he didn’t feel it was gonna be fair to put Ty in when we were obviously down late in the third quarter,” Craddock said. “He thought that was a good time to get those freshmen work and see what they could do. And that’s what we did.”
How does it go with Ty being named the starter as far as what percentage of the reps does he get?
“The way we break up our reps Ty will get all the one reps this week,” Storey said. “Cole will get some two reps. We will continue to bring on Connor and John Stephen obviously as much as we can. But from a rep standpoint it’s obviously Ty will get all the one reps and Cole all the two reps.”
Craddock also praised Storey for what he has brought to the team thus far.
“On thing about Ty, like I said all along, is he works really hard every day and gives his teammates the best Ty Storey he can every day with a great attitude,” Craddock said. ” I’ve seen him really push other guys and lead and I think that the games he’s gotten in, obviously (in the opener) he did some good things for us and was able to lead us on some drives that ended up in the end zone, so we’ll go back and look at those things and those plays in those series that got us there that fits this week and see what we can build on as we move forward with Ty.”
Craddock also talked about how he felt Noland and Jones did on Saturday.
“I think one of the positive things with Connor and John Stephen was neither of those two guys were scared,” Craddock said. “They were ready to go. I talked to them on the headset when they went in. They were excited and didn’t seem they were nervous at all. It was tough on Connor and I think John Stephen too because the field position was really bad. We were backed up in our own end zone it felt like when Connor got out there and John Stephen as well.
“We’re trying to bring that guy along so you don’t do too much out of your own end zone with a true freshman. We were trying to bring them along throwing them some quick, easy stuff. I thought Connor did a good job. John Stephen made a play with his feet and it got called back with a holding penalty. The thing I saw with those guys they never flinched. They were ready and excited to get in there and get some reps.”
The Razorbacks attempted several deep throws on Saturday against North Texas. Craddock was asked if that was by design or decisions made by Kelley?
“The one where he did throw into double coverage in the north end zone on our sideline, that was on Cole,” Craddock said. “That was a bad read on his part, but the other ones were by design. We called a lot of those and we felt like we could run by their guys. Jordan Jones did get by one of their corners and unfortunately we had a little wind behind us and the ball sailed out of bounds.
“We thought we could run by their guys and we wanted to take some shots to loosen them up. Their safeties were playing really incredibly low and giving us man coverage, so we felt coming into the game if that’s what they were going to give us then we were going to take some shots. We hit Mike Woods on one, just wish we could have hit a couple of more. Obviously the other in the north end zone on their sideline in the end zone we got a 50-50 ball. We’d like to see Jordan make that play.”
Arkansas and Auburn will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.
The following week Arkansas and Texas A&M will play at AT&T Stadium. That kickoff has been set for 11 a.m. and will be televised on ESPN.