Arkansas QB Earns Freshman Honors

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said quarterback Casey Dick's second-half performance during the 28-17 win at Ole Miss has given him more confidence to call pass plays the rest of the season.

It also helped Dick earn Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week honors.

Dick became the SEC-leading, third Arkansas freshman to receive the weekly award after completing 17 of 24 passes for 175 yards with 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Rebels. He rebounded from a poor start to complete his final 12 passes for 154 yards and all three scores, helping Arkansas erase a 17-7, second half deficit en route to its first SEC win.

"It's difficult to complete 12 consecutive passes against a talented defense in the SEC," Nutt said. "I think he gained a lot of confidence in the second half. He has only played in two games, but he is definitely growing as a quarterback."

Dick led the Hogs to 73-, 63- and 61-yard scoring drives after Arkansas managed only 53 yards in the first half. He threw touchdown strikes to receiver Marcus Monk (23 and 24 yards) and fullback Peyton Hillis (4 yards). After two starts, the Allen, Texas, native is 29 of 48 for 312 yards with 4 touchdowns and 1 interception.

It's the fourth time in 11 weeks an Arkansas player has claimed freshman of the week honors. The awards have been spread around Arkansas' offensive backfield.

Jones earned SEC honors after rushing for 137 yards and a touchdown against Missouri State. McFadden won it in consecutive weeks after strong outings against Auburn (108 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Georgia (190 yards, 2 touchdowns).

Arkansas players have more freshman of the week awards than any other SEC school, stepping in front of Auburn (3), South Carolina (3) and Florida (1).

The Razorbacks have played the most true freshmen in the nation (18), according to a poll of sports information directors.

"If you told me this summer that was going to happen, I don't know if I'd believe you," Nutt said. "I think it shows that the foundation has been laid, to be able to have those quality guys like a Felix Jones, Darren McFadden and then a Casey Dick, all to win the award in the SEC at a very young age, I think it only says that they're good players and they're still learning.

"They have to get better, but they're doing some good things right now."

Another New QB
Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom said redshirt freshman Michael Henig will start his second straight game Saturday.

Henig earned his first start during Mississippi State's 17-0 loss against Alabama, completing 9 of 28 passes for 78 yards with 3 interceptions. He has earned the bulk of the work the past two games in place of Omarr Conner, who was pulled after two ineffective series in the Bulldogs' 13-7 loss at Kentucky on Oct. 29.

Conner, a dual-threat quarterback, has completed 86 of 167 passes for 903 yards with 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Henig, a conventional pocket passer, is 38 of 88 for 439 yards with zero touchdowns and 3 interceptions in six games.

Nutt said the Hogs know "very little" about Henig, but compared Mississippi State's change to Ole Miss. The Rebels replaced dual-threat starter Michael Spurlock in favor of pocket passer Ethan Flatt before facing the Razorbacks.

"It's a lot like the scenario with Mississippi," Nutt said.

Hogs, Dogs Streaking
The Bulldogs have lost 18 straight against SEC Western Division opponents, dating back to their 36-28 win against Ole Miss in the 2001 regular season finale. They've also dropped 16 in a row on the road against division foes, dating back to Mississippi State's 18-16 win at Auburn in 1999.

Arkansas has won six straight against the Bulldogs and is 18-1 in Little Rock under Nutt. The Hogs are 6-1 against Mississippi State during Nutt's tenure with the only loss coming in 1998 (22-21). But five of Arkansas' six victories were by seven points or less, including last season's 24-21 win in Starkville, Miss.

That's why Nutt said the Hogs are preparing for another close game Saturday.

"The series to me has always been tough," Nutt said. "Especially, to me, on the road. But this has always been a game that's been very, very tight. There has not been an easy game won. That's the thing we always remember.

"It's always a rock 'em, sock 'em, tough, physical ball game."

By The Numbers
McFadden entered the Ole Miss game as the SEC's leading rusher, but his stint atop the conference charts didn't last very long.

McFadden gained 22 yards on 13 carries against the Rebels, his lowest output since gaining 6 yards on 1 carry against Vanderbilt on Sept. 10. He also lost a fumble and fell to fourth in the SEC in rushing behind Auburn's Kenny Irons (119.7 yards a game), Kentucky's Rafael Little (118.3) and Alabama Kenneth Darby (108).

In the process, McFadden's streak of consecutive, 100-yard rushing performances ended at four. But Nutt believes McFadden will bounce back against the Bulldogs.

"It was a tough day for him," Nutt said. "That's the first time where he really got hit. He got hit from the blind side and he's felt bad enough about fumbling the ball. He got jarred a little bit. It hurt him. It hurt us. I think he'll come back.

"He's the type of person that will come back and practice that much harder."

Back To Work
Instead of practicing Sunday afternoon, Nutt said the Razorbacks reviewed film and got treatment in the training room. The Hogs will return to practice today and defensive end Jamaal Anderson believes they'll work even harder in search of their second straight SEC win.

"It just feels real good and shows that hard work pays off," Anderson said about the Ole Miss win. "I knew (a win) was coming. I just wasn't sure when it was. We played our hearts out and the ball would just bounce one way. It was not our way.

"It finally did and we came out with a victory."

Nutt said the Razorbacks will keep a close eye on banged up offensive linemen Kyle Roper, Stephen Parker and Tony Ugoh. Roper will likely miss practice with a knee injury, but the Hogs hope all three starters will be available Saturday.


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