The most common question I get this week concerns what some perceive to be the logjam at quarterback between Matt Jones, Tarvaris Jackson and Ryan Sorahan. The debate on who should be the quarterback, or if all of them should actually be quarterbacks is the one constant in Arkansas right now.
From time to time, Houston Nutt and I have visits. They are like inside briefings. Sometimes they include information that will not be shared with anyone. All coaches have these sessions. Of course, if they get burned, you don't get the briefings anymore. They are crucial to being able to present a picture of what is going on and why. Let me just say that in no way do I feel that Matt Jones is going to be moved to wide receiver at this point in fall practices.
If he struggled with the passing game, if he came back ill prepared to play quarterback this fall ... that was a possibility. He's said that much in public.
However, Houston Nutt has and always will want to do as much as he can to give Matt Jones a chance to be the quarterback. Gosh, he was awesome yesterday. Maybe the stars were aligned perfectly for Matt yesterday and it was a once-a-year deal just like the Ole Miss game last year. I tend to believe he has magic and can make things like that happen more than once a year. I know the coaches believe that.
Both Houston Nutt and David Lee wish Matt Jones stayed with football last January, February and March. They believe he'd be a much better quarterback now if he'd done that. I think they sent him a message by putting him with the third team to start two-a-days. Heck, I might have done the same thing.
I'll say one thing, Matt Jones did not spit the bit. He chomped down on it in May, and hasn't let up one bit to this point. He probably overworked himself a bit. His shoulder wasn't ready for the intensity that he gave it this summer, and he paid a little bit to start August. His arm is doing fine now. He told me that, and I heard the same yesterday from another source close to him.
Another thing to note is that the other two quarterbacks have worked just as hard. They have been intense in everything they've done this summer. Oh, what a great summer all three had and what a wonderful thing that is for this football team.
Does anyone remember the last time we had a bonafide quarterback competition coming out of the spring? One of the QBs spit the bit. One thing I don't want anyone to ever say about Matt Jones is that he's afraid to work. He did not miss one single day in the weight room this summer ... not one.
One thing I noticed yesterday after practice as Matt Jones and Tarvaris Jackson did interview after interview to accomodate the media, during a break while they were both waiting on a TV camera man to finish with David Lee, I saw Matt and Tarvaris standing together laughing and smiling. They are friends. They get along. They like each other. They have a wonderful relationship, exactly the kind of relationship they told me about last spring and what I wrote in the HI summer magazine.
This team is not split in this battle between the quarterbacks. All of the QBs are well liked. Do you think these players have forgotten the feeling they had on that plane coming back from Ole Miss last year? They love Matt Jones. They know his ability. They respect him for his football ability and his basketball ability. Almost everyone of them played basketball in high school, and think of themselves as top basketball players, too. They also know that Matt is probably the one player on this team (along with maybe Jason Peters) that has enough ability to do both well. No one else is really close. I've heard many of them say that.
So, while there may be a player here or there who might be pulling for Tarvaris Jackson ... why not, he's a good person and most likely has some close friends on the team and he has rare ability, too ... there is no problem at all on this team about following Matt Jones into battle. The goal is to win games, and the quarterback who can consistently lead the team to the end zone is the one they want at the helm. Right now, it appears there are several that can do that, and that's why this is going to be a fun year and the reason I'm excited about Razorback football.