When we're not discussing Casey Dick's wedding or Reggie Fish's music career, we occasionally like to discuss actual football stuff. While we may not have the latest word on zone blitz packages or the role of the slot receiver on 3rd & long, we'll do our best to answer some of the key preseason questions as part of this ongoing series.
Today's question: Can Ryan Mallett live up to the hype?
Although my knowledge of football history is spotty, I'm pretty sure that the day after the forward pass was legalized in 1906, Razorback fans began angrily telegraphing each other that the offense was too reliant on the run. A mere 103 years later the Hogs may have the right quarterback/coach combination to take advantage of the offensive innovation of, you know, throwing the ball forwards.
So, it's safe to say that expectations are high. After the jump, let's see if Ryan Mallett is the guy we've all been waiting for...Pros:
If you were to assemble the perfect passing QB, Weird Science-style, you'd likely wind up with something much like Mallet. He stands roughly 7' tall and 270 lbs, and has a cannon arm that allows him to casually toss a football from Texarkana to Blytheville without breaking a sweat. He was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school, and has a swagger and confidence that makes teammates want to follow him into battle.
Furthermore, he comes to Arkansas with a year of junior varsity (i.e. Big Ten) experience, having played 10 games for Michigan back in 2007, and since then has accrued a year and a half of exposure to Bobby Petrino's crazy offensive schemes.
To be brutally honest, Mallett didn't set the world on fire while at Michigan: he struggled with accuracy (7 TDs, 5 INTs, 43% completions) and was prone to douchey behavior (scroll down for the part about his sideline yelling match with Coach Lloyd Carr). His massive size means he's not exactly fleet of foot, and the Arkansas offensive line is still questionable after a disappointing season last year.
Skeptics might note that throwing on the run while being chased around the backfield by ferocious SEC defenses isn't a recipe for success for a guy who's never been a pinpoint passer. And why wasn't Mallett able to more decisively win the starting job against the far less-heralded Tyler Wilson (while competing against Arkansas' less-than-worldbeating defense)?
Hog fans' long history with being disappointed by the Razorback passing game (or lack of it) means we all might be a little overeager to anoint Mallett as the savior, and the above questions about accuracy and foot speed are legit. But, Petrino is a proven mastermind when it comes to getting QBs to produce, and Mallett certainly seems like a perfect match for his system.
To answer the original question, Mallett by himself may never live up to the massive hype (meaning he'll be very good, but not OMG-THE-GREATEST-EVER good), but he doesn't even need to. Factoring in Petrino's mad scientist offensive schemes with the QB's raw talent and the wide range of supporting weapons at the RB and WR positions and we think he'll handle himself quite well. Bottom line is that with Petrino calling the shots and Mallett making the plays, the Razorbacks offense should be very fun to watch.