No player on the Arkansas football team took as much heat as starting quarterback Brandon Allen did a year ago. Maybe some was rightfully deserved and some wasn’t, but it’s all just your own personal opinion.
Of course when you’re playing the toughest position in sports, in the toughest conference in college football, you’re going to be praised when you win, and harassed when you lose. Unfortunately for Allen, it’s been a lot of the harassment.
A season ago, Razorback fans were not pleased with play on the field and hope that this year will be different. Quarterback play very well could be the main factor that could make or break the season for the Hogs this season and all eyes will be on the junior again.
But is his starting job safe?
We were continually reminded that during the 2013 season that Allen was suffering from a nasty shoulder injury from the endzone dive in the Southern Miss game that made his efficiency and velocity drop considerably. Add that to his seemingly bad decision making on some throws along with “untrustworthy” receivers and you get a 3-9 record with a league worst 49.6 completion percentage.
I am by no means putting the historically unsuccessful season all on Allen’s shoulders, that’s ludicrous- it is never one player, play, or coaching decision. Arkansas’ troubles were much more than just a lack of a passing offense.
All we’ve been hearing this offseason from Razorback coaches is how much Allen has improved and Bret Bielema even stated that it is one of the best offseasons that he’s ever seen a player have.
As for myself and probably many Hog fans as well, I still remain skeptical.
I was so anxious to see this new and improved Allen during the Spring game and that all fell apart on the first throw when the pass was tipped for an interception. Something that we’ve all seen too many times now.
From my point of view during the Spring game, Allen looked like the same quarterback that he has been for two years now. Yes, he did make good throws towards the end of the game and he’s by no means a ‘terrible’ quarterback, but no improvement was shown.
It has been a couple of months now since the game and Allen has been working hard, even attending the IMG camp where Chris Weinke gave him individual lessons each day. He probably has made big strides in his game with his mechanics and footwork, especially with a healthy arm, but I will believe it when I see it on the field.
With all of that being said, his job as starting quarterback is in no danger at all, for now at least.
First reason being that there is simply no one ready to come in and take the job from him. A.J. Derby has now moved to tight end, and while he may still be working some at QB, we all know he won’t be a threat. Damon Mitchell has made a good transition to receivers per coaches request and so that leaves the young, but talented freshman– little brother Austin Allen and Rafe Peavey.
To think that Bielema and staff are going to start a guy with absolutely zero in-game experience over Allen who now has and entire year of SEC experience under his belt is insane. I’m not saying that one of these two guys could see some playing time and eventually take over the spot, because they very well can, just not anytime soon.
Austin or Peavey could turn out to be better quarterbacks than Brandon Allen, but what you have to realize is where they are right now in their development as true and redshirt freshman. I know this may make some irrational Razorback fans mad, but the two younger guys simply aren’t ready…yet.
Peavey has only seen small, Missouri high school football along with his little time at practice as an early enrollee. Austin has only seen a year of the Razorback defense while redshirting which is helpful, but certainly not like the real thing.
It may not necessarily be the raw talent, but the experience and supposed leadership that puts Brandon fully ahead of the rest.
Something that is concerning is how Bielema has an uncanny ability to make things seem better than they are. Last season for example, the post-game interviews from Bielema made you feel as though things on field somehow weren’t so bad, even after a 52-0 beatdown.
Hopefully he’s speaking truthfully about Allen’s progression this offseason, which if is true, could bode extremely well for the Hogs this season.
The lack of passing game was one of the main problems for the Razorbacks in 2013 as it allowed opponents to constantly stack the box and stop the high-powered running attack. Bielema doesn’t ask too much of his quarterbacks and if Brandon continues to have lack-luster play, then his seat could definitely get hot.
I’m a huge critic of Allen and became incredibly frustrated with him a year ago, as did many other fans, but it’s hard to see him not have better numbers and play this season.
As far as his starting position though, it seems to be in now way in jeopardy, so as Bielema stated at SEC media days, “Sit back and relax, because it isn’t going to change.”
Related article: Arkansas football: Previewing the quarterback position
Comment below with your opinions, questions, or what you would like to see from Allen and the other quarterbacks this fall.