Commentary: Hogs Finally OK at QB

After two years of inconsistency and lack of numbers, Arkansas' quarterbacks are finally a strength. Some are trying to make it into a quarterback controversy, but HI.com Publisher Clay Henry likes what he sees at signal caller.

Arkansas dazzled on offense on Saturday with seven impressive touchdowns scattered almost evenly between the run and the pass. Some of the 2,500 fans who witnessed the offensive display left Reynolds Razorback Stadium wondering who would emerge at quarterback, and some even questioned whether or not Matt Jones ought to be moved to wide receiver.

That's the craziest notion I've heard. Unfortunately, it might not go away. Everyone is welcomed to their opinion, but this is one case when fans should see every practice before wishing for that kind of a move. Matt Jones has dazzled at quarterback this spring, and he's done it on a daily basis.

The Hogs have a great situation at quarterback for the first time since Houston Nutt became head coach. It's the first time they've had true depth at the most important position on the field. Matt Jones, Ryan Sorahan and Tarvaris Jackson can all get it done against SEC competition. If the Hogs were as solid at the other 21 positions on the field, they'd compete for the national championship.

It's a sweet situation that promises to become tastier if there are no defections or injuries. And, that last nasty word, injury, is the reason the Hogs need to leave all three of these phenoms alone. They are likely to need all three before the next season concludes.

That was the first major scrimmage that the fans have been to watch, but the Hogs have scrimmaged every single day in some form or fashion. Even on the days they wore shorts and thigh pads, they did some full speed team work. Matt has done some nice things in the passing game. So have the others.

One of the things you have to understand about Matt's passing right now is that David Lee has changed all of his footwork and lower body technique. It's coming to Matt, but the changes caused some minor adjustments in his release. In time, it will help. Lee has asked Matt to shorten his stride on the rollouts to make his timing better. At first, those kinds of changes cause more problems than they erase. But, after Matt gets comfortable, it'll make him an even better passer.

I do not worry about Matt Jones as a passer. If they protect for him ... and that didn't always happen Saturday ... then he'll be fine. The coaches have asked that Matt stay in the pocket a little longer, and he'll do that in time. It takes time to get confidence in your O-line, especially after last season's poor protection.

Don't judge Matt Jones' passing on that one scrimmage. I thought he was a good passer last year, when they let him pass.

I've seen all three quarterbacks in practice every day this spring. I've been there from the start until the end. I've seen them warmup and seen the way David Lee is working with these quarterbacks. They are all going to keep improving. We've got the right man to teach and coach them. I trust him to make the choices as far as who to play and which plays to give them. Lee and Houston Nutt are close and are working well together.

It's going to be a fun ride, at least for the offense this season. I'm excited. And, I'm excited we have Matt Jones at quarterback. I would also add that I'm excited we have Tarvaris Jackson and Ryan Sorahan at quarterback, too. I bet we need all of them before it's over. That's just my feeling.

Don't worry about quarterback. In fact, I wouldn't worry about the offense in general, either. If there is an area of concern right now, it's the defensive line. The rest of the defense should be fine, but the inexperience in the defensive line is a problem right now. That will get better when Jermaine Brooks, rehabbing a surgically repaired shoulder, returns to anchor the interior of the defensive line in the fall.

The long-term outlook for the interior of the defensive line is good. Jayson Johnson, Arrion Dixon, Elliott Harris, James Johnson and Scott Summers have some ability and will figure it out in time. Right now, they are thinking more than they are reacting. They are trying hard to implement some new techniques given to them by Kacy Rodgers, their third D-line coach in three seasons. Rodgers is an excellent coach, and will "coach them up" to SEC standards. I think he's close to getting that done, but it didn't show up in Saturday's scrimmage.

One thing to remember about Saturday was that there were few blitzes. They played a simple scheme because of the lack of true speed in the secondary. That will change in the fall when Eddie Jackson, Ahmad Carroll and Lawrence Richardson return. Right now, those guys are running track. I have trust that this defense will improve. The good news is that we now have the quarterbacks ... three of them ... to exploit any weaknesses that appear on the other side of the ball. That will be the case next fall when they get into the SEC schedule. It's something to be excited about.


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