This is an excerpt of a column I wrote for Sporting Life Arkansas. You can read it in its entirety here.
The mere mention of Brandon Allen’s name brings out visceral reactions from many Razorback fans. Regardless of his stats or specific plays this spring, plenty of fans seem to think they saw all they needed to see last season. They become the 21st century version of Randy Quaid’s character in Major League II, filling the Internet and talk radio with the same type of venom once reserved for Rick "Mild Vile Wild Thing" Vaughn.
I’m not here to say all of it’s unwarranted. Nobody has to remind me what happened last fall. I was there with everybody else. I vividly remember the pick-sixes and the 13:10 touchdown:interception ratio and the sub 50% completion percentage. Every completion felt like it was a struggle and nothing came easily.
Nobody can be blamed for not being sold on Allen as the future quarterback of the Razorbacks. But the flip side to that is it’s also irrational to dismiss the notion that he could improve from last fall.
I’m also not here to say he will be better. Until he displays it on the field in a game this fall, there will continue to be worry in the back (or possibly the front, or completely all over) of Hog fans’ heads.
But I will say this: I think he can be better.
Now, I’ve never been one to justify all of Allen’s struggles last fall as a consequence of substandard receivers or the result of a lingering shoulder injury. That was certainly part of it, but Allen also made his share of bad decisions and throws.
Despite how well he’s throwing in practice, we won’t have a real answer for the latter issue until the lights come on Labor Day weekend at Auburn. Allen, as you may recall, also threw pretty well in practice last season, and praise of it landed in my 2013 Festivus Grievances column, so I’m certainly not willing to declare him vastly improved just yet. The Razorback defense, as I’m sure you all tearily remember, has as much to prove on the field as Allen does, so any big numbers produced against them will only garner further skepticism.
But all the quarterbacks are practicing against that defense, and Allen has proved he’s, as of now, the best quarterback on the roster. That could change sometime between August and the end of the season, but that’s how things stand now.