Dick Named Starter Against Wisconsin

FAYETTEVILLE -- Sophomore Casey Dick will start at quarterback for Arkansas against Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl game Jan. 1 in Orlando, Fla., and freshman Mitch Mustain will come in on the Hogs' third possession.

Coach Houston Nutt went ahead and made his decision Wednesday, and announced it to the team before the Razorbacks fanned out for the Christmas break.

"Both quarterbacks have practiced well and both deserve to play," Nutt said. "After the third possession, we'll go with who's moving the team."

Mustain started Arkansas' second through ninth games of the season -- all wins -- but was benched after an early interception against South Carolina on Nov. 4, and Dick has started since then.

Nutt had said he would wait until after the first practice in Orlando on Dec. 26 to name a starter, but Wednesday he said, "I've just seen enough. Both guys deserve to play and have done a great job."

Both quarterbacks reacted with their usual aplomb.

"We both came out here, had a great week-and-a-half and made strides in the passing game," Dick said. "Coach Nutt made his decision and it's the one we'll go with. The coaches will put us in the best situation possible."

Mustain said, "This gives me a chance to play and that's what I've been looking forward to. I'll be ready to go."

Theoretically, Mustain could play most of the game or he could be done after a few plays. More likely, it will be something in between those two scenarios.

"I'm not worried about Mitch at all," Nutt said. "We've got a good game plan and he'll have a good supporting cast on offense and a good defense. He'll be fine."

Mustain said he didn't think he would feel extra pressure to produce on his first series in the game.

"This takes the pressure off," he said. "I'll know what to expect, rather than standing there and wondering."

Dick and Mustain have a good relationship and they pull for each other, while trying to beat each other out.

"We're great competitors," Dick said. "We appreciate each other and learn from each other. We've had good times the last two weeks."

Nutt, who sat Mustain down against South Carolina partly because of slippage in his practice performances, said Wednesday, "There's been a total difference in him in the last nine practices. Whatever burdens he had -- worries, concerns, whatever -- now it's different, like it was in two-a-days, fall camp, the Vanderbilt game, the Auburn game. He's practiced very well."

As for which quarterback will play after the first three series against the Badgers (11-1), Nutt said, "We'll see who is moving the team, see where we are. Both of them are pretty close."

Nutt said the team had a good reaction to the announcement about the quarterbacks.

"(Getting to play) is definitely a relief to me," Mustain said. "I hope I've earned it. I seriously think we've had our best week-and-a-half of practice this season. I've gotten a lot of useful snaps that I've been lacking and needing. It's been tough but focused. We know what we have to do."

Mustain reiterated that he had wanted to play all along, but he said, "That's over now. This is a big game. Hopefully we can get something done."



COMPARING QUARTERBACKS

Arkansas sophomore quarterback Casey Dick, named on Wednesday as the starter against Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl, has started eight games in his career -- four in 2005 and four this season. The Hogs went 2-2 each year in games that Dick started.

This year, Dick has played in nine games, completing 56 of 111 passes for 50.5 percent, with nine touchdowns and five interceptions. He has passed for 893 yards and has an efficiency rating of 135.78.

Freshman Mitch Mustain has played in 11 games and started eight, with Arkansas winning each of his starts. His efficiency rating is 125.12, based on 64 completions in 122 attempts for 853 yards, with 10 TDs and eight interceptions. He has completed 52.5 percent of his passes. His longest pass was for 70 yards, while Dick's longest completion was for 50 yards.


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