After all, the sophomore had gotten nothing more than mop-up duty in four of the Razorbacks' seven games. So when he trotted on the field early in the second quarter, the former Shiloh Christian star said he wasn't going to waste the opportunity.
"That's what you have to do when you're the backup quarterback," Emert said. "You have to be ready when anything happens. You just have to be ready."
Arkansas needed its backup after starting quarterback Casey Dick was knocked out of the game with a slight concussion and bruised ribs Saturday. Emert, who took over with the Hogs leading 17-0, responded by completing a career-high 13 of 25 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown.
It was his first significant playing time since 2005, when Emert set several school records flinging the football as a freshman at Missouri Southern. It also left the Razorbacks feeling confident they have another option under center if needed.
"Any time the quarterback goes down, the offense, it takes your breath out of you," offensive lineman Robert Felton said. "But Nathan came in, he was calm and cool. We had no drop-off.
"It was pretty cool he came in and did that. It takes the stress off the offense when your quarterback goes down, but you have another guy that can do the same job."
Arkansas lost Dick when the junior was drilled by blitzing Florida International defensive back Ashlyn Parker with 11 minutes left in the half. Dick, who was throwing the ball when he was hit, crashed to the turf and stayed down for a couple of minutes.
Dick was checked out by trainers and eventually left the field under his own power. But he didn't return and went to the hospital, where he underwent a CT scan for precautionary reasons.
Emert stepped on the field in his place and helped the Razorbacks finish off a 68-yard drive. He completed 2 of 3 passes, including a 9-yarder to fullback Peyton Hillis on third-and-8 from the FIU 38. Two plays later, he lofted the ball down the sideline to Hillis for 25 yards to set up a 2-yard rushing touchdown by tailback Darren McFadden.
"He came off the bench good and cold and heated up right away," said offensive coordinator David Lee, who is also Emert's father-in-law. "He threw a tremendous pass to Peyton Hillis."
Emert completed 5 of 8 passes in the first half and led the Razorbacks to two scoring drives. Lee said he didn't have as much success in the second half, missing several open targets.
Emert graded his performance with a 'C' because of the second half. He didn't give himself much credit, either, saying he didn't do much more than hand the ball to Arkansas' talented tailbacks.
But Arkansas recognized the effort. The Razorbacks believe Dick will be back at practice this week as they prepare for Saturday's game against South Carolina. But if Dick can't play, Lee said Arkansas would be in good hands if Emert is called on again.
"Nathan has done nothing but progress all fall," Lee said. "He's in here three hours Friday morning (to study film). He doesn't get the reps, but he tells me every week, he tells (coach) Houston (Nutt), 'I know what to do. I'm ready if you need me.'
"He proved that (Saturday)."
Emert Fills In Nicely After QB Injured
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