After 300 Yard Passing Performance, Nick Starkel’s Reign Is Here

Nick Starkel

WARNING: Those who can’t stand “Game of Thrones” should skip down a few paragraphs.

In the show Game of Thrones, the North is a wild, mostly independent territory filled with strong-willed warriors. After some drama goes down in the first seasons, Robb Stark, heir of the the Stark family on which the entire multi-part epic hinges, is crowned by his people as an unofficial “King of the North.”

Though he hadn’t aimed to be a king, but accepts the honor anyway from a sense of duty.

It’s a powerful scene, and provides a recurring theme through the series.

Similarly, in Fayetteville these days, the people have spoken: House Starkel is in full effect.

The Razorback fans, players and coaches have bestowed their trust on Nick Starkel as the on-field leader of the program, and he’s responded in kind.

In Starkel’s first game as a starter on Saturday, he completed 20 of 35 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Colorado State. It was the first time a Hog quarterback under Chad Morris had thrown for at least 300 yards — a  significant milestone for a coach who for so long had a reputation as a quarterback whisperer.

“Our players rallied around him,” Chad Morris said. “Very proud of the way all our guys, defensively and offensively, just came and put their hand on Nick and said ‘Let’s go. You’re our guy. We’re going to support you. Go show us.’ And he did.”

“He gave us a big spark, throwing 50/50 balls with Trey Knox and Treylon Burks coming down with them,” safety Kamren Curl added. “I feel like that really gives us a spark, gives us momentum in the game.”

Sure, Starkel still has some improving to do.

“I missed a lot of throws today,” Starkel said after the game. “We’re going to go watch the film and correct it. That’s a lot of stuff there.”

On one throw, wide receiver Treylon Burks Burks beat his defender by a few steps, but Starkel overthrew him. “There was a couple others that I wish he would have put more on a back-shoulder to Trey, but that’ll come,” Morris said. “That’ll continue to come with time, but he sees it, he likes it, and he has the freedom to get the ball to where he needs to get it to.”

Still, as Hawgbeat’s Andrew Hutchinson points out: “Even though he wasn’t perfect on those deep balls, the threat of Starkel throwing over the top helped jump start Arkansas’ run game because the Rams couldn’t crowd the box.”

Outside of five throws in the season opener, Nick Starkel has essentially played one game and a half this season. He’s put up 554 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception, one of the most prolific 1.5 game starts in program history.

Offensive coordinator Joe Craddock believes he can get so much better, to the point where he’s not only the quarterbacking King of the Hogs, but King of the West [SEC West] as well.

“There are some things in the offense that Nick can do better and that’s why I’m going to challenge him,” Craddock said. “I want him to be great. I don’t want him to be good. I want him to be an elite player for us.”

Razorback quarterbacks who have thrown for at least 300 yards in a game

  1. Ryan Mallett (10 times)
  2. Tyler Wilson ( 9 times)
  3. Brandon Allen (4 times)
  4. Austin Allen (3 times)
  5. Clint Stoerner (3 times)
  6. Casey Dick (3 times)
  7. Joe Ferguson (1 time)
  8. Bill Montgomery (1 time)
  9. Ronny South (1 time)
  10. Nathan Dick (1 time)
  11. Nick Starkel (1 time)

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