Just a few days after the announcement of quarterback Ben Hicks’ transfer to Arkansas, the SMU record setter has already begun taking his sole spring semester class in Fayetteville. Hicks, who got his bachelor’s degree in economics, last night had his first UA class in Operations Management.
Hicks may play more the role of teacher than student on the gridiron this year. He played three years at SMU under Chad Morris, and knows the offense “like the back of my hand,” he recently said on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly. Many Razorbacks fans hope he’ll essentially serve as a player-coach, instructing Arkansas’ young receivers, tight ends and incoming freshman quarterback KJ Jefferson on the intricacies of Morris’s complex offense.
Read the below Sports Talk interview excerpts for more insight into Hicks’ vision for the Hogs and whether he’s been told he will be the starter.
On why he chose Arkansas:
Ben Hicks: “Just the opportunity to come back and play for Coach Morris and Coach Craddock, and the staff. It was just too good of an opportunity to pass up, to come here to play in the SEC, play an offense that I’ve already played in and that I’m familiar with. Just too many positives, so I just thought this would be the best place for me to finish out my college career.”
On his comfort level with the offense:
Ben Hicks: “[I’ve] been in this system pretty much my whole entire college career. Spent a lot of time with Coach Morris and [Joe] Craddock, and Coach Craddock obviously while there at SMU. Put a lot of work into this offense with them, so I understand this offense kind of like the back of my hand. Kind of excited to dive back into it and see what we can do.”
On what he needs to understand about Morris’s offensive scheme to be successful:
Ben Hicks: “Got to know how to get the ball to your teammate, distribute the ball, get the ball into your hands quickly. And just be able to do the little things like take care of the football, and be able to take shots downfield. Because I think that’s when this offense has the potential to explode — is when you can take shots. That’s what we were able to do at SMU, so I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to do that here.”
On what Chad Morris told him about where he’d land on the depth chart coming in:
Ben Hicks: “He didn’t tell me anything. Coming here to compete and do anything and everything I can to help this team win a game. That’s the only focus.”
On whether he can improve Arkansas’ quarterback play after last year’s struggles:
Ben Hicks: “I think so. I think I’ll just come in and be a good leader. Do what I’m supposed to do, handle my business and take it one day at a time. I’ll be just fine.”
“I’m here to do anything and everything I can to help this football program win games.”
Make sure to listen to the entire interview below. Hicks also discusses how hard it was to adjust to SMU coach Sonny Dykes’ offense, the prospect of playing with Arkansas’ ultra-talented freshmen receivers and his love for Friday Night Lights.
Ben Hicks Interview [Begins at 24:30]
What Are The Pros and Cons of Ben Hicks As Razorback Quarterback?
While you’re immersed in all things Hicksian, check out Hog beat writer Andrew Hutchinson’s excellent breakdown of Hicks’ potential pros and cons adjusting to SEC play.
Hutchinson points out some good signs on the surface: Hicks, for instance, has a 2.1-to-1 career touchdown-to-interception ratio. That’s better than the combined 1.3-to-1 career ratio of the quarterbacks — Ty Storey and Cole Kelley — whom he’s replacing.
Another potential pro:
“Although Hicks doesn’t have the legs you’d expect on a quarterback under Morris, he does have a strong arm that better suits the offense. On his career passes traveling at least 20 yards through the air, 43.8 percent were either completed or dropped by the wide receiver, according to Pro Football Focus.”
– Andrew Hutchinson of Hawgbeat.com
“Even without Morris and Craddock calling plays and with Courtland Sutton and Trey Quinn in the NFL, Hicks was still accurate on 46.2 percent of his deep passes. Facing the likes of Alabama and LSU, that number would likely take a hit, but it would have ranked third in the SEC this season behind only Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (58.6 percent) and Missouri’s Drew Lock (54.7 percent).”
Of course, this was mostly done against mid-major colleges from the American Athletic Conference. It’s certain Hicks’ stats will lose luster against the best SEC defenses. To indicate how he might struggle, Hutchinson created a snazzy graphic breaking down how Hicks fared against Top 25 opponents and major conference college opponents.
Against the latter, such as TCU below, Hicks only completed 46% of his passes and had a touchdown to interception ratio of .5.
Hicks himself has addressed the issue of how he’ll adjust to SEC competition on The Paul Finebaum Show today. Check out the below: