The SEC is full of new faces at the quarterback position. How will new Arkansas QB Austin Allen fit in?
Quarterback, quarterback, quarterback. This seems to be the big topic heading into fall. Losing veteran Brandon Allen would be a big step back to some peering into Arkansas’ football program. But the worries are almost well deserved. When you lose a three year starter who threw for the highest QBR in all of college football there’s bound to be a few shaken fans.
However, the new guy coming in isn’t far off from departing Allen. In fact, they come from the same bloodline.
Junior Austin Allen, the brother of Brandon Allen, will make his first starts as a Razorback this fall. Having only 19 attempted passes in his Arkansas uniform, fans like me are ready to see this guy perform (and succeed) in the higher stake situations.
It took Austin’s brother Brandon two full seasons before making a severe impact on the field. Can we expect the same from Austin? Well, that’s far-fetched. Brandon was thrown into the system in the midst of a dying football program. His inexperience plus lack of talent behind to support him resulted in what some would call atrocious playing. His Junior year was a big step up ending with a blowout win over Texas in Houston, but it was nothing compared to what he brought to the table in 2015. Dan Enos was hired as the OC before Brandon’s senior season, and the new system allowed Brandon to thrive.
So why is this important? Because it is what will help Austin not go through the adversity that hindered Brandon in his first two seasons.
Well, at least not too much adversity…
Little Allen isn’t the only QB that will make SEC starts for the first time. In fact, only 4 out of the 14 SEC teams have returning quarterbacks that made multiple starts last season. This gives Austin (and the Hogs in general) a bit of leeway when it comes to the competition.
Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly and Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs are the notable returning quarterbacks in the conference, with LSU’s Brandon Harris and Mizzou’s Drew Locke returning as well. It’s almost a given that Kelly and Dobbs will be the forces to be reckoned with. But could there be a fella in red coming close behind?
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There’s one fact that sticks out to me more than anything else. Out of all the SEC’s new starters, Austin Allen has spent the most time on his current team. Experience, experience, experience. That will go far for the Hogs this season when Allen takes the ball. You have transfer juniors/seniors like Auburn’s John Franklin, Alabama’s Cooper Bateman and A&M’s Trevor Knight that while are sure to have solid seasons, they aren’t tied to the University. Allen has sat under Bielema’s system for three solid years and now he’s taking it to the field. That’s something Brandon didn’t have, and it for sure isn’t something the other SEC QBs have.
If the reports of Allen’s arm strength and accuracy are true, he will be one of the more talked about QBs in this conference. While he may not surpass the talents of Kelly, Dobbs and maybe Harris he will for sure be thought of amongst those names. It’s a thought many other Hog fans and myself have brought to the table, and I’m glad to say that I’m at least a little bit skeptical about Allen’s success this coming season.
The Arkansas Razorback Football season begins on September 3rd in Fayetteville vs the LA Tech Bulldogs. Austin Allen will have his very first career start, hoping to keep the rise of the Arkansas Razorback football program alive.