When Arkansas visits Auburn on Saturday all eyes will be on Razorback freshman quarterback Mitch Mustain. The Springdale, Arkansas native was a Parade Magazine All-American and its Player of the Year in 2005. He was at the top of every recruiting analysis list. Arkansas coach Houston Nutt laid it all on the line in luring Mustain to Fayetteville. He even went so far as to hire Mustain’s high school coach as the Razorbacks new offensive coordinator.
Whether or not that was a stupid move remains to be seen. But Nutt has gone from the toast of college football, even turning down the Nebraska job, to just trying to hold on in Arkansas. No one’s fortunes have dropped quite as fast as Nutts. He knows that Mustain will either make or break his career.
Mustain got the starting job after coming in late against USC and driving the team the length of the field to score. Never-mind, that the game was already a blowout and most of the USC defensive starters were on the bench resting. Since then he has guided them to three straight victories. A win at Auburn would make him the first freshman Razorback quarterback to win four consecutive games. Mitch, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
In victories over Utah State, Vanderbilt and Alabama, his results have been mixed. Despite winning the Alabama game two weeks ago, Mustain was terrible; going 7 for 22 for 97 yards, 1 touchdown and three interceptions. A performance like that this weekend will get you beat by four touchdowns.
For all intent purposes, this is his first real road game. The first road game at Vanderbilt doesn’t count. Everyone knows that the visitor brings more fans than the Commodores. Mustain says that there is no pressure on him this week. Silly boy.
“We have nothing to lose this game per se,” Mustain said. ”They are expected to win. People are expecting us to get beat by them. So you just come out and have fun with it. If anything, just enjoy the crowd.” Those are the true words of a freshman. He wins at Vanderbilt and now he’s ready to “enjoy the crowd”.
Nutt has hedged his bets a little this week giving almost equal time with the first string to back up quarterback Casey Dick (yes, that’s his real name). Dick was the starter before injuring his back in preseason. If and when the going gets tough, look for Dick to come into the game.
Auburn is a 15 1/2 point favorite over Arkansas.