There's no more optimistic time for a football fan than the spring, when a few good scrimmages can raise expectations to the point where every halfway-decent player seems like the second coming of Peyton Manning or, well, Darren McFadden. So maybe I'm guilty of that right off the bat, but what if we're really witnessing the emergence of a brand new Casey Dick?
Your friends here at Razorback Expats are certainly as guilty as anyone else of taking a few potshots at C. Dick over the years, but given Bobby Petrino's well-earned reputation as a quarterback guru (and Houston Nutt's reputation as the opposite) it certainly seems within the realm of possibility that Dick could have us all eating our words.
With Ryan Mallett's long-shot bid to be eligible for the 2008 having been denied by the NCAA, Dick has a clear shot at retaining the starter's job and should benefit from the coaching staff's extra attention. Plus, when we last saw Casey on the field he was blowing up would-be tacklers and hitting clutch passes in OT against LSU, so that's something to build on (editor's note: the Cotton Bowl has officially been purged from our memories).
At any rate, there's definitely a buzz building around Casey...here's a quick look at what some people who know more than we do about these things are saying:
* Sports Illustrated's Cory McCartney kindly notes that Casey "has been called the worst quarterback in college football", but also notes that this perception could change quickly and has him listed as one of his "Spring Winners" in a recent column.
* In spring football roundup, USA Today says: "In his first spring under new coach Bobby Petrino, Dick didn't look anything like the quarterback who struggled with consistency and confidence throughout the 2007 season. He benefited significantly from a new offensive approach and new quarterback drills."
* What does Bobby Petrino think? First of all, he's probably happy that Dick isn't masterminding a dogfighting ring in his spare time. But besides that, he says "He grew tremendously in the spring. He had a good understanding of what we're doing offensively, he has a lot better understanding of what defenses are doing, in coverages and blitzes. I thought he made great strides in the last scrimmage before the spring game. He needs to be disciplined with his footwork and his technique. When he does that, he can be an accurate passer. He can get the ball out on time."
* Lastly, the best breakdown might be this Rivals.com article, which gives an excellent overview of the current situation and includes quotes from Dick, Petrino, London Crawford and Dick's high school coach. Definitely worth a read.
So what does all this really mean? It's only May, so at the moment, not much. But if nothing else, it seems like the QB situation is light years ahead of where it was at this point 12 months ago, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that.