Dick, Mustain Enjoying Splitting Repetitions

Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick is getting half the reps in practice. Backup Mitch Mustain is taking the other half as they compete to see who starts against Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl Jan. 1 in Orlando.

Only a few weeks ago, there was a huge disparity in the amount of work the two quarterbacks were getting in practice. Dick took 80 percent of the snaps in the days leading up to a 31-26 loss to LSU; Mustain had the remaining 20 percent.

But even though the number of reps are now being split evenly between Dick and Mustain, the starting quarterback job is not necessarily wide open. It appears to still be Dick's, though things have gotten more interesting.

"Casey has been our starter, but the one thing we wanted Casey to know is that nothing is ever 100 percent," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said.

"You always got to fight for your job, and that's basically what's happening right now. It's good, healthy competition."

By splitting the reps 50-50 between the two quarterbacks, Arkansas' coaches have given the impression that Dick's job might be up in the air.

But that might not be the case. With such a long layoff before the No. 12 Razorbacks (10-3) face No. 6 Wisconsin (11-1) in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, the coaches want to give Dick and Mustain enough snaps for them to work on their fundamentals.

"We're just trying to develop the quarterbacks," Arkansas quarterbacks coach Alex Wood. "We're not counting the reps right now, we're just trying to develop two guys."

Neither of the quarterbacks is looking too much into what it might mean that the snaps are being split pretty evenly between them in practice. Dick said he's not paying any attention to it, and he'd rather concern himself with working on his timing with his wide receivers.

"Obviously, what it all boils down to (is) we're going to have to start completing some more balls," Dick said. "We've put a lot of emphasis on that the last couple of days, and we've improved a lot as a team."

After the week Mustain has had, perhaps the last thing the freshman wants to do is get involved in a quarterback controversy. The former Springdale High star has already had to address rumors that he was transferring, and face plenty of negative attention nationally after his mother met with Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles.

When it comes to the quarterback situation, Mustain is leaving that up to Arkansas' coaches.

"Again, that's their decision on how to prepare for (the bowl game), but I'm going to take the reps I get and work," Mustain said.

When someone suggested earlier in the week that the starting job was open, Mustain said, "I don't know about that. It's just competition like we have been (doing) all year."

Arkansas' quarterback situation has been an issue throughout the season, and it got even more attention after Dick had what he described as "probably the worst game I've ever played in" against LSU.

The sophomore, who started four games as a freshman last season and another four this year, completed just 3 of 17 passes for 29 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

Dick played better a week later against No. 2 Florida in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, going 10-for-22 for 148 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

But the Razorbacks are still looking to find an effective passing game to compliment their dominant ground attack. Meanwhile, Mustain has not attempted a pass in a game since throwing an interception on his only throw in a 26-20 win at South Carolina on Nov. 4.

"I'm ready to go. It's been awhile since I got a chance to play, and it felt good being out here," Mustain said following Wednesday's practice.

Mustain took over the starting job after junior Robert Johnson struggled in a season-opening 50-14 loss to Southern California. The freshman went 8-0 as a starter, but he has seen limited or no playing time since getting benched against South Carolina.

As a result, Mustain could use the increased reps in practice, even if it's to just develop his skills. But the starting job might still be Dick's to lose.

"What we're seeing is the guys are really competing as far as every throw, individually, one-on-one, the pass skels," Nutt said.

"... They're really concentrating on accuracy, and you can just see two guys that are not worried about anything, throw caution to the wind and out here playing and competing."

Splitting The Snaps

Arkansas quarterbacks Casey Dick and Mitch Mustain are sharing the reps in practice, leading to talk that perhaps Dick's place as the team's starting quarterback is in jeopardy.

Dick and Mustain have each struggled to complete passes, avoid interceptions and give the Razorbacks a passing game to balance out the offense.

In fact, the two quarterbacks have produced similar numbers this season. Here is how they've fared:

Name GP-GS Comp. Att. Yards TD Int. Efficiency

Mustain 11-8 64 122 853 10 8 125.12

Dick 9-4 56 111 893 9 5 135.78

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