Dick Gets Another Chance Against SEMO

FAYETTEVILLE — This wasn't exactly how Casey Dick had envisioned his first significant playing time of 2006.

That was supposed to come Sept. 2 against Southern California in a packed Reynolds Razorback Stadium as Arkansas looked to avenge its 2005 blowout loss in Los Angeles.

Instead, a back injury that sidelined the sophomore for much of preseason camp kept him out of that game and allowed freshman phenom Mitch Mustain enough of a window to seize the starting role.

This week, though, Arkansas' coaches made it a point to get Dick increased reps in practice and hoped to be able to use him for quite a bit against Southeast Missouri State.

They got their wish, as Dick entered in relief of Mustain beginning late in the second quarter. He was efficient, finishing 8 of 9 through the air with 98 yards (47 more than Mustain) and two touchdowns.

"You've got to have two quarterbacks and we've got two good ones," said offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. "So we feel real good about that right now."

After the game, Dick said all the right things about the possibility of more playing time.

"It's just whatever (the coaches) say," Dick said. "They're going to put us in the best situation to win so whoever they feel is the man can go out there and have fun and lead the team."

Welcome Back RoJo

An interception return for a touchdown by Keith Jackson Jr. might've drawn the loudest ovation of the day, but second was probably Dick's third-quarter pass to quarterback-turned-receiver Robert Johnson.

After Johnson caught Dick's pass for a 22-yard gain, Dick encouraged the crowd, waving his arms and drawing a large applause for Johnson.

"It was real good to get the first catch and get back on the field and get involved in the game," Johnson said. "It makes it 10 times better to get the crowd back into it and get that cheering and everything."

Johnson started the season as Arkansas' starting quarterback before being replaced by Mustain and moving to wide receiver before the Razorbacks' next game against Utah State.

Johnson had missed the last two games after undergoing minor knee surgery. He said after the game that the knee was 100 percent.

The junior also saw time Saturday on the punt return unit and also threw a pass, which fell incomplete.

Coming In Bunches

After going five games without an interception, the Razorbacks made up for it against the Redhawks.

Arkansas picked off three Southeast Missouri State passes. In addition to Jackson's long run, Kevin Woods and Elston Forte picked off passes.

The Razorbacks' defense has now forced four turnovers on the season, with two being returned for touchdowns.

"Everybody was just doing what they were supposed to do — alignment and assignment," said safety Randy Kelly.

Bonner Comes Back

Sophomore linebacker Mark Bonner made his return from a separated shoulder Saturday but it wasn't the shoulder injury that was most evident.

Bonner wore a large pad taped near the middle of his chest under his shoulder pads.

The Fayetteville native is known for his hyper, aggressive play but Saturday, Bonner appeared to be even more amped than normal, constantly waving his hands to exhort the crowd and running full speed, playing primarily on kick coverage.

"I try to do what I can because that's all I've got right now is special teams," Bonner said. "I try to do my best. I put everything I've got into it.

"Coming from Fayetteville, I've got some family and friends up in the stands watching."

Bonner dislocated his shoulder against Utah State on Sept. 9 but it wasn't until after that injury that doctors discovered Bonner had fractured his sternum the week before against Southern California.

"It was the worst feeling ever watching my team on TV," Bonner said. "Being on the field with them, there's no better feeling."

Bonner had two solo tackles.

More Freshman TDs

After Damian Williams caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Mustain in the third quarter, his first career touchdown catch, the freshman receiver from Springdale sought out his friend and teammate London Crawford.

"You're next," Williams said.

Early in the fourth quarter, Crawford proved Williams right, as the highly touted freshman wide receiver recorded his first touchdown catch, a 15-yarder from Dick.

"I was expecting it to happen sometime soon," Crawford said. "It felt good to catch it but it felt like I've done it before."

Extra Points

For the first time in Arkansas history, the Razorbacks have had two 100-yard rushers in back-to-back games. Darren McFadden and Felix Jones did it last week against Auburn and Michael Smith and Jones did it Saturday. ... Andrew Davie recorded his first career reception in the third quarter. ... Arkansas' 42 first-half points were the most in a half since the Razorbacks scored 42 against New Mexico State on Sept. 4, 2004.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories