All Involved Not Satisfied With Passing Game

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' quarterbacks and wide receivers had just finished watching game tape of their 42-29 loss to Kentucky. But Monday afternoon, Casey Dick didn't want to go home.

He doesn't usually throw on Mondays. He usually gives his right arm a rest. But not this Monday, not after the third straight game in which he completed less than 50 percent of his passes.

So he tapped sophomore wideout London Craword. He nudged sophomore receiver Lucas Miller.

"You guys want to go throw?" the junior quarterback asked.

They obliged, and the three of them spent part of Monday afternoon inside Willard and Pat Walker Pavillion. They worked on timing. They formed chemistry. They tried to put the past behind them.

They, like Razorback offensive coordinator David Lee, realize the amount of work that is needed to turn around what has been an anemic passing game, thus far. Through three games, Arkansas ranks 11th in the Southeastern Conference with 154.3 passing yards per game.

Dick is completing an SEC-worst 49.3 percent of his passes. Just six of his completions have gone for gains of at least 20 yards. And untimely drops have stalled drives.

Sure, injuries have made Dick's job more difficult. All-conference wideout Marcus Monk has missed every snap and could return as early as next weekend. Emerging freshman Crosby Tuck is now out for the season. But Lee "isn't making any excuses."

"We have to do the best with what we've got from this point on," Lee said.

Both Lee and Arkansas coach Houston Nutt agreed Dick would not lose playing time to backup Nathan Emert or third quarterback Nathan Dick on Saturday against North Texas. Both would love to pile up points on the Mean Green and get Emert and Nathan Dick some snaps.

But barring that situation, boosting the confidence of Casey Dick and the new-look receiving corps is higher on their priority list.

"I just want to put together four quarters," Nutt said. "I'm not worried about who gets to play."

Senior receiver Robert Johnson said his teammates and concerned fans didn't need to worry, either, about who lines up behind center. Johnson said the Razorbacks are "100 percent behind Casey."

Johnson called Dick on Sunday. He told Dick to "keep his head up." Johnson also called Miller, who had a costly drop in Saturday's game. Miller's drop was indicative of the kind of miscues Arkansas' receivers have committed.

Miller had a third-and-5 pass late in the third quarter strike him right in the chest and fall to the ground. Arkansas trailed Kentucky 21-20 at the time and was near midfield.

"We all just need to get our confidence back," Johnson said. "We can do it. I know we can. That's what I talked to those guys about. We have it in us to make plays in the passing game. We just have to work on it."

All the Razorbacks can do now is "throw it, throw it and keep throwing it," Lee said. Every other play at Monday's practice was a pass, Lee said. The hurdle Dick and Arkansas' receivers must clear, he said, is converting on third down or in long-yardage situations.

"That's the hardest thing, and the last thing to come -- those third-down, long-yardage (plays)," Lee said. "You know you have to throw. They know you have to throw."

Lee didn't have specific answers Monday. Dick didn't either, though he did praise plenty of receivers Monday for their effort, receivers such as Crawford, Miller, Robert Johnson and Carlton Salters.

Lee said the Razorbacks merely had to work toward a more successful passing game. He complimented Arkansas' pass protection -- Dick has been sacked only twice. He raved about Arkansas' running game, ranked third nationally. He commended Dick's performance in play-action situations, and he stated clearly he believed Dick "played well enough by far to win."

Lee didn't act like the snap of a finger could turn around Arkansas' passing game, though. He did suggest more throws in the direction of freshman D.J. Williams. And he did allude to schematic changes to the offense.

But Dick, like Lee, knows that nothing but repititions will help at this point.

"We've got to be able to smooth things out and make plays," Dick said. "We'll be fine once we start making plays and executing. We just have to get the timing back, and get our confidence up. Only practice can help."

Passing Game

Through three games, Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick has thrown for 410 yards. The 6-foot-2, 216-pound junior has completed 49.3 percent of his passes (35 of 71), tossed three touchdowns and thrown three interceptions.

Arkansas ranks 11th in the Southeastern Conference with 154.3 passing yards per game. The Razorbacks rank 109th out of 119 Division I-A teams. They rank third nationally in rushing with 329.7 yards per game.

Dick Statistics

Opponent C-A Yds TD Int Long

Troy 11-20 108 0 0 18

at Alabama 11-23 145 3 1 40

Kentucky 13-28 157 0 2 25

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