Aug. 15, 2005
CBS SportsLine.com wire reports




FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Sophomore Robert Johnson, the only current Razorback to have taken a snap during the Matt Jones era, has been named Arkansas' new starting quarterback.

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Arkansas coach Houston Nutt wrapped up Sunday's 90-minute practice by naming Johnson first-string, with redshirt freshman Alex Mortensen his backup. Those two were in competition with freshman Cole Barthel for the starting spot vacated by Jones, who is beginning his NFL career as a wide receiver with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"We feel good about what (Johnson) is doing now, that he didn't do in the spring," Nutt said. "He's been accurate, but like we told him, 'We're giving you this because you earned it, but you still have to come to work every day. You've got some guys right there on your heels and they're going to work even harder.' We're excited about his progress, but I still think we can get better."

There was some concern about Johnson's confidence, even though he has been with the team for three years and is the only one of the three to have seen any action in an NCAA game. The coaching staff began by giving each quarterback an equal number of snaps at practice, then started increasing repetitions for the ones who performed better. In that time, Johnson's confidence shot up.

"There's a confidence level there, and he's better in the huddle," Nutt said. "You can see when there's pressure he's doing things better, getting rid of the ball and not holding it. He hasn't thrown an interception in the last couple days. We've been real pleased with that."

After a tune-up practice Sunday, the Razorbacks are back to two-a-days starting Monday.

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