Arkansas redshirt sophomore-to-be quarterback Brandon Mitchell knows the time is now to make a move in his quest to replace Ryan Mallett.
He went out Saturday and put his best arm and foot forward in that effort by completing 19 of 31 passes for 310 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions and rushing 3 times for 32 yards.
Mitchell also led his team to two other scores during the 171-play scrimmage and showed off his running ability as well.
"I'm a lot more comfortable than I was out here the first two years," Mitchell said. "You really get adapted to the offense, you study so long every day, you watch film, you go home and get in the playbook and now I find myself playing video games and reading the defenses there," Mitchell said. "You have just got to always stay wired, always thinking ahead."
Mitchell believes what helped him have such a good day Saturday was getting fully prepared before the scrimmage with fellow quarterbacks Tyler Wilson (21 for 35 for 234 yards, 2 TDs, 1 pick) and Jacoby Walker (7 of 17, 73 yards) .
"We really wanted to treat this like a game so we came in the locker room with a focused mindset and watched film and Tyler, Jacoby and myself, we all just got wired in," Mitchell said. "We focused on what the defensive fronts were and then got out there and really tried to execute."
In fact, Mitchell calls his pre-game and post-game preparation "school" just as he does going to class.
"As a quarterback you have to be better in school than anybody else on the team," Mitchell said. "It's a cycle. If you are doing good in school, it carries over to your confidence on the field. You put in the same effort as you do when you are going to the real classes. You have to study, do the right thing and be a leader to be a quarterback."
Mitchell enjoyed his passing day as he works to shed a running quarterback label under the tutelage of head coach Bobby Petrino and quarterbacks coach and offensive ooordinator Garrick McGee..
"I think sometimes my passing gets overshadowed, especially because of breaking that 80-yard run I had in the spring game last year," Mitchell said. "Everybody started labeling me a running quarterback after that because of that one play.
"But I think I am a complete quarterback, at least that is what Coach Petrino and Coach McGee and Tyler on working with me on becoming," Mitchell added. "I certainly can use the running game to give the defense something else to worry about."
While it was a lengthy scrimmage, Mitchell says he was just focused on the task at hand.
"When you are out there, you really don't think about how many plays you have, you just treat it like a game and you always want to score on every series," Mitchell said.
With Mallett gone, the starting job is up for grabs with Wilson and Mitchell (1 of 3 for 16 yards in 4 games last season) vying for the starting role.
"I always have come out here just the same, trying to give 100 percent, give it everything I have," Mitchell said. "But it is different this year. Last year Ryan was the guy no doubt. This year Tyler and I are competing hard and just making each other better and trying to win that starting job."
Mitchell knows what he needs to work on.
"I have really just tried to be more consistent," Mitchell said. "I have spurts where I look like a really good quarterback and then I have times that I go back to not being fundamentally sound in the pocket, sloppy ball-handling. Lately I have been more consistent and just focusing each and every day on getting more consistent, getting my footwork and always giving myself on goal to complete."
He also knows that having wideouts like Jarius Wright, Joe Adams, Cobi Hamilton, Julian Horton, Maudrecus Humphrey, Marquel Wade and Jevontee Herndon can help a quarterback.
"They make me look good even when I don't put the ball where it needs to be," Mitchell said. "Me it J-Wright, Joe Adams, Cobi, Horton, Herndon – we have just so many guys out here that makes plays."
Mitchell was also a high school basketball star and in fact originally committed to play hoops at LSU before his junior year of high school.
He played basketball as a freshman for a few games at Arkansas and it remains in his blood as evidenced by the fact he was happy the scrimmage was over in time to watch the Final Four.
"I am rooting for VCU because they are the underdog and I think they really have a chance to get the job done," Mitchell said. "On the other side, it is just hard to pick between UConn and Kentucky."
Mitchell Makes Move
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