It’s August 21, 2019 and Arkansas’ quarterback battle is still being waged. Transfers Ben Hicks and Nick Starkel have been alternating for most of spring and summer football, and it seems that once again, Arkansas’ quarterback choice will come down to the wire. August 31 is ten days away. Is there anything to separate the two of them? Let’s find out.
Ben Hicks: Hicks is a Morris disciple from way back. He broke a bunch of records in his stint at SMU, and knows the offense like the back of his hand. This has led to him serving as an experienced, veteran presence in the locker room. He’s who you’d go for as a safe pick. Despite his salt-fueled SMU fan moniker “Pick Six Hicks,” Hicks is consistent at hitting short throws, and can throw on the run. He may need to be able to throw on the run if the offensive line doesn’t mesh. The issues arise when the ball is going medium or deep. Hicks has been inconsistent outside of short throws, and deeper passes will be needed against SEC defenses.
Nick Starkel: Starkel started on the dark path by attending A&M, but like Darth Vader, he has gone from dark side to light. Starkel may be less of a veteran than Hicks, but he’s got a ton of talent. He boasts a pretty deep ball, and has SEC Reps, starting for A&M before being deposed by Kellen Mond. He’s not as mobile as Hicks, but can move well in the pocket. That isn’t to say that either quarterback will be a threat to run, but mobility may matter if the offensive line breaks down. Starkel recently took all the first team reps in a scrimmage, which may give him the edge.
So Who Should Start?
It’s tough to say. Both have merits, and both seem to be better options than we’ve had in the recent past. Hicks is definitely the more traditional. He’s like a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich if you will. You know what you’re getting, and he’s had lots of time in the public eye. On the other hand, Starkel is a spicy, upstart newcomer who could have enough firepower to stake a claim early—like a Popeye’s chicken sandwich. You aren’t necessarily going to make the wrong decision by picking either, but the enjoyment may vary.
Then you have to consider previous supporting casts. Hicks got to throw an awful lot of balls to current Denver Broncos receiver Courtland Sutton. When you’re throwing balls to NFL caliber guys, of course you’re going to break some offensive records. Much like the Oreo Ice Dream Shake of Chick-fil-A fame, Sutton was able to compliment, and at times carry Hicks’ sandwich down the path to glory.
Starkel has thrown to some NFL grade receivers as well though. He developed an amazing chemistry with current Arizona Cardinals receiver Christian Kirk, a man with whom Arkansas fans are all too familiar. He was a buttery smooth, yet incredibly quick receiver like Popeyes biscuits. You may have come to enjoy Starkel’s sandwich, but everyone knows about Kirk.
As for my take, you’ve gotta go with Popeye’s every time. I won’t be upset if we pick Chick-fil-A, but I believe that the spice and atmosphere of the Popeye’s sandwich will beat out the safe comfort of Chick-fil-A’s sandwich. The Popeyes Cajun Sparkle is analogous to that extra something that Starkel seems to have. Either way, hopefully both players get to feast this year.
Folks, I’m hungry.
Thanks for checking out the first part of our series on Arkansas’ 2019 Football Season, be sure to sign up for our SB Nation poll, and follow @ArkansasFight on Twitter. For other opinions and hopefully more joke-bits, follow @TuckerPartridge.