FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas Razorbacks coach Chad Morris planned to play quarterback Nick Starkel at some point during significant action against the Portland State Vikings Saturday at Donald W. Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium.
With 2:46 to go until halftime of the Hogs’ 20-13 win over the Vikings, Starkel took to the field, his first action since transferring from Texas A&M. Starkel connected with tight end Grayson Gunter for a loss of a yard, and then threw an interception the next play — an inauspicious start to his Razorbacks career and a waste of a takeaway that started Arkansas inside Portland State’s red zone.
Overall, Morris was pleased with Starkel’s two series, going 4-of-5 for 48 yards.
“I thought Nick did well,” Morris said.
Even though Ben Hicks was the starting quarterback, and will be again when the Hogs go to Ole Miss on Sept. 7, Morris says the plan all along was to allow Starkel to have meaningful snaps during the game, not just mop up during garbage time, in order to evaluate how the Argyle, Texas, product would respond.
“He knew he was going in,” Morris explained. “We didn’t sit down and say you’re going to play in two series. We wouldn’t do that. We did tell him, he knew that all week long, that he was going to go in and he would go in some time in the first half in some meaningful moments. I wanted to see how he would respond.”
There could be more of the same as Arkansas takes on the Rebels to open up their Southeastern Conference schedule. Starkel and the coaching staff are hoping for a cleaner performance, especially since the meaningful action will be during SEC play.