No Clear-Cut QB Emerges

ORLANDO, Fla.--Anxious for a peek at the Arkansas quarterback of 2007, Razorback fans still don't have a clue. Even those who recorded the Capital One Bowl will be in the dark after a frame-by-frame review. Neither the Casey Dick faction nor the Mitch Mustain camp can argue vociferously for their guy.

Accused of being one-dimensional all year, Arkansas offered no evidence to the contrary in a 17-14 loss to No. 6 Wisconsin on Monday. Dick and Mustain combined to complete 14-of-31 with only a couple of throws worth noting. Leading receiver Marcus Monk didn't help, failing to haul in at least two throws from Dick. Dick's longest completion was 19 yards; Mustain's was 16. The worst thing about the loss is the fact that it will color the way this Arkansas team is remembered. Tabbed for a notch above mediocrity, Arkansas won 10 in a row and the Western Division championship of the Southeastern Conference. But, ending the season with three straight losses makes for a 10-4 bottom line and too many fans will forget that this bunch over-achieved. Because of the defense, the Razorbacks came close against the Badgers with so little production from Dick and Mustain. It is sad that the snap-taker who looked the best is a running back, but Darren McFadden's duties were to keep or hand off to Felix Jones. He was asked to pass once and that play was complete for a loss. It would be a stretch to ask him to run like the dickens and read pass coverage, but such an experiment would be tempting this spring. Naturally, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will tell you that both Dick and Mustain will be better after 15 spring practices and more in August. The second half, Arkansas started from the A47, W33, A38, A37, A31, A40 and scored one touchdown. Dick had seven possessions to Mustain's one in the first half, but the freshman had the first three cracks in the second half. In fairness, McFadden took the first two snaps of the second possession. On one third down, Mustain completed a 16-yard pass. On the next third down, he failed to see Felix Jones camped in the middle of the field and threw incomplete for Cedric Washington. Next time, his third down pass was batted down. On his next opportunity, his fourth-down throw for former high school teammate Ben Cleveland was intercepted. Benched after throwing an interception early against South Carolina, Mustain again did not return after the interception. The final 30 minutes was so nothing that Wisconsin quarterback John Stocco was named MVP even though he missed his first nine passes of the second half and was only 2-of-11 in the second half. In fact, he missed on 20 of his 34 attempts. Arkansas' defensive front, sometimes with five linemen, was all over Stocco, who had minus 41 yards rushing. The defense also stuffed 1,500-yard freshman P.J. Hill at every turn. He ended the afternoon with 19 for 36, including 23 yards in the fourth period. In fact, the Badgers made only 33 yards in the second half, including an all-important 11-yard completion to Travis Beckum, who extricated himself from a Matterral Richardson leg lock for a key first down. The first half was choked with oddities: * About 60-40 run-pass during the year, Wisconsin put together a nine-play, 91-yard drive and the two running plays netted minus 3 yards. * Former Arkansas quarterback Robert Johnson caught four passes -- twice as many as he grabbed all year -- and Monk was blanked. * On fourth-and-1 from the Wisconsin 49, Arkansas called time and came up with a pass play in the right flat for Mitch Petrus, a tight end in high school and an offensive guard last year. If complete, it would have been his first catch. And probably would not have gone for a first down. Trying and thinking, a defensive back and a punter made invaluable plays for the Badgers. The first time McFadden touched the ball, he was headed for the end zone when he was run down by Jack Ikegwuonu at the 8. Eventually, Jeremy Davis missed a 30-yard field goal attempt. Wisconsin was in front 10-7 when Darius Vinnett blocked a Badgers punt. Kicker Ken DeBauche followed the bouncing ball, retrieved it and had the wherewithal to throw a pass to one of his guys. It was wiped out by the linemen downfield, but 5 yards was a small price to pay for a chance to kick again. Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media's Arkansas News Bureau. e-mail: hking@arkansasnews.com.

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