With the loss of his star-studded backfield and a standout wide receiver, Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick begans his senior season expecting to be the Arkansas playmaker on offense.
The last time Dick had to carry an offense on his shoulders goes as far back as his high school days in Allen, Texas. His senior year at Allen High, Dick amassed almost 2,000 yards and 14 touchdowns through the air and legged an impressive 400 yards for eight rushing touchdowns.
In his junior campaign, Dick was the starter throughout, starting all 13 games. He averaged 130.4 yards a game through the air, but throughout the season he still managed to rack up 18 touchdowns, which is the third-best single-season total in school history.
Dick’s lack of passing yards was mostly due to the powerful running back tandem of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.
“Those guys are absolutely unbelievable,” Dick said. “A whole lot of people would have loved to play with them and I am very fortunate to have played with two guys like that.”
The highlight of Dick’s junior year wouldn’t come until the last game of the regular season as Arkansas would take on the No. 1 team in the nation, LSU, in Baton Rouge.
“My most memorable moment as a Razorback would be going into Baton Rouge and beating LSU,” he said.
The win against LSU would be the first time a Razorback squad had taken home the golden boot since Matt Jones engineered the ‘Miracle on Markham’ in 2002. The win would help earn the Hogs a berth in the Cotton Bowl against Missouri.
Before Dick could lead the Razorbacks to Dallas, all of Arkansas watched as coach Houston Nutt resigned from his position after a decade of service to the University of Arkansas.
As the future of the Arkansas football program seemed unstable, Dick was still as solid as a rock. In the final game of the season against Missouri, he set a career best with 19 completions and threw for 197 yards.
Entering his senior season Dick not only has his fourth offense in four years, but has a new head coach, Bobby Petrino.
“There has been a lot of learning (with a new coach),” Dick said. “Everyone has their philosophies and you just have to throw the old playbook out and get better with what you’re doing.”
Going into the first game of the season, everybody wondered if the quarterback who averaged just 130 yards a game the previous season could handle Petrino’s pass-happy offense.
With just over 72,000 fans watching, Dick was happy to kick off the Petrino era with a bang and step into the role so many people wondered if he could fill. Against Western Illinois, he became the first quarterback since Clint Stoerner to throw for more than 300 yards in a game.
Against Western Illinois, fans also got a glimpse of the most under-utilized part of Dick’s game, his legs. He was ranked as the No. 13 dual threat quarterback coming out of high school, but before this year he had never scored a rushing touchdown at the collegiate level, and in the first game he did it not once, but twice. If not for sacks, Dick would have been the team’s leading rusher with touchdowns on 23 and four-yard runs.
“Casey is progressing well,” quarterback’s coach Garrick McGee said. “He is learning a lot, and he is doing a good job of absorbing what we are teaching him. I have been really impressed with the way he has managed the change of offense.”
As Dick led the Razorbacks into Little Rock for the game against Louisiana-Monroe, he would go up against the first Bowl Subdivision opponent of the season. For the second time in as many weeks Dick would be the team’s shining star. Dick amassed 323 yards passing and became the first player in the history of Arkansas football to have back-to-back 300 yard passing games.
With Alabama and Texas looming in the future, Dick has his work cut out for him, but the quarterback remains confident.
“All we have to do is go out and practice and get better every day,” he said.