NWA TD Club: Quarterbacks

It was a trip down memory lane with legendary Arkansas quarterbacks Quinn Grovey, Clint Stoerner and Joe Ferguson at the Northwest Arkansas TD Club meeting.

Arkansas will win Saturday against Ole Miss. That's the way the quarterbacks called it.

Joe Ferguson, Clint Stoerner and Quinn Grovey -- three of the most legendary QBs in Arkansas history -- were the featured speakers at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club on Wednesday. They participated in a QB Round Table with Chuck Barrett as moderator.

There were a lot of questions and topics and there was very little scrambling by any of the QBs, especially when they were asked to pick the Arkansas-Ole Miss game.

"Ole Miss is struggling to run the power stuff and they've pretty much gone to letting Jeremy Masoli do his thing," Grovey said. "They are putting a lot on Masoli. I think our defense struggled last week, but a lot of that had to do with Cam Newton. I think we'll win 28-14."

Stoener said, "We are good enough to win this game. I think Coach (Houston) Nutt will try to keep it close and then hope to win in the fourth quarter. They will try to get after our quarterback and also try to sit on the ball, keep the ball for eight minutes at a time and then try to win it in the end.

"But I saw the way our offense started clicking at Auburn. That's a very big positive. We might have to score more than 28 to win, but I think we will."

Grovey, dropping his voice to a lower firm range, leaned in to say, "Twenty eight will do it."

Ferguson, who coached Stoerner under Nutt, knows what to expect from the Ole Miss head coach.

"I don't care what Houston says in the papers, this is an emotional time for him," Ferguson said. "That's just bull. He will have his team in an emotional place.

"I think they will challenge our offensive line. They are going to bring blitzes. But we should win. We are the better team."

All three were asked about their opinion about the defining moment of their time at Arkansas.

Ferguson chuckled about the question before giving two detailed answers.

"First, I guess it was the first day we went to practice," Ferguson said. "Coach (Frank) Broyles told me if I signed, he wouldn't recruit any more quarterbacks. The first day of practice there were nine quarterbacks.

"Then, I'd say it was the (1971) Texas game in Little Rock. That catapulted us for the rest of the season. The atmosphere was awesome. It was raining hard and no one even seemed to notice. It didn't make much difference to anyone in the stands. I do remember that we flew back to Fayetteville after the game and the place was deserted. Our team had pizza and went to bed while everyone partied in Little Rock."

Grovey came up with several, too. He talked about his freshman year, a 9-4 season when he played as a backup. He recalled not getting in the Liberty Bowl and seeing Coach Ken Hatfield on the bus afterwards. The advice from the coach was simple: You better get better.

"Until then, I was just happy to be on the team," Grovey said. "At that point, I knew I had to get to work. When we got back from the bowl game, they assigned an assistant strength coach just to me. I knew it was time for me to do something.

"I went in to see my position coach that summer and told him, 'I'm ready to take the controls of the team. That was it for me."

Stoener laughed about that.

"I never told anyone I was ready to take over," he said. "I guess I wasn't that smart. I was just trying to survive.

"I had two pretty clear defining moments, both against Tennessee, and maybe one more. The first was 98 and we lost, but it was probably the best I ever played. I threw for over 300 and three TDs against the No. 1 team, but no one remembers that. The other was when we won in Fayetteville, and maybe when we beat Texas in the Cotton Bowl in my last game

"The only time I relaxed and enjoyed the moment was that second Tennessee game, maybe the Texas game, too. I soaked up those two. I do know that the second Tennessee game got the monkey off my back.

"You get a ton of credit for the way I handled (the lost fumble at Tennessee), but I just did what my mom and dad taught me. You found out the emotion of our state for football after those games. It was bad and it was also good.

"You guys (Ferguson and Grovey) are more mature than I was to remember some of that stuff early on. I really didn't know much about any of that. Like I said, I was just trying to survive."

Stoerner had some funny moments, like describing what he knew about Arkansas football before he got to campus.

"I didn't know nothing," he said. "I really wasn't a fan of any college team other than maybe LSU. And what I really liked about LSU was the food. But when I came to my visit, it was right after the 94 basketball national title. I loved the way the fans supported that team and thought it would be pretty good if you had three times that many at a football game.

"Plus, I like the small nature of the campus. It was all on a hill in one spot. I was pretty lazy and could see myself getting around pretty easily."

Ferguson had the best advice for the Razorbacks after some bad calls went against them in the Auburn loss.

"It's a learning experience you can lean on later in life when something unfair happens," he said. "I think that's the best way to use it. What I'd tell them now, be a man and go play. You have to handle it in a mature way. Things happen that are unfair."

Stoerner gave the crowd a taste of the kind of football he likes.

"I loved the 5-yard hitch," he said. "I was in a meeting one time with the Cowboys and that play kept coming up as the one that was open. I'd look to see where the safeties were at and if they were coming up, I'd call the hitch and go. I'd keep running those two over and over."

Grovey explained the setting in his living room when he committed to Arkansas.

"It was me, Coach Hatfield and Coach (Larry) Beckman sitting on my couch," he said. "I hit it off with Coach Hatfield. I told him that I wasn't coming to Arkansas to win games, but to win championships."

Both Grovey and Ferguson said Arkansas was the place because it was one of only "five schools in the country running the right offense." For Grovey, it was the wishbone. For Ferguson, it was because the Hogs were one of only five teams throwing at the time.

All three quarterbacks, one by one, said if they had it to do over again, "I'd pick Arkansas 10 times out of 10."

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