For the first time in a few years, Arkansas is inexperienced at quarterback. In 2008, Casey Dick had started several SEC games but his backup, first Tyler Wilson then Nathan Dick, had zero experience.
This year, Brandon Allen has one SEC start, his backup AJ Derby (or Austin Allen, his brother) have never played in an SEC game.
This is not a good thing for Arkansas, particularly in the world of being extra sensitive to head injuries. In today’s college football, you are a one lump on the head from losing a player at any spot for a month. They take head injuries, or “injuries above the shoulders” as they call them at the U of A very seriously. Gone are the days of “getting your bell rung” and just shaking it off and getting back out there.
This means the most important part of the Razorback football team isn’t the quarterback, it’s the offensive line. They have a huge upgrade in coaching with Sam Pittman, but the talent is still the same. It’s a great center in Travis Swanson and a bunch of average guys everywhere else. We will see if Pittman can get those average linemen to overachieve this year and fill the seats until real SEC offensive lineman come to Arkansas.
You hate to play the “what if” game with players and injuries but it is a painful reality of the game of football. Every team, every season, will have guys get injured. It is going to happen and if it happens at the quarterback spot, a forecasted rough season for Arkansas could become another season to forget for Razorback fans.
Or the opposite could also be true. Brandon Allen is great, the offensive line gives him protection and everything will be fine. .
Sure they know the X's and the O's of the game, but that doesn't mean they are qualified to pick the top four teams in the sport.
When the new college football playoff begins in 2014, the question everyone wants to know is "who will be on the selection committee"? I know one thing, current and former coaches need to have nothing to do with the selection process.
Coaches have this secret society where they all have each other's backs no matter what (with the exception of Bobby Petrino who is only in it for himself). There are agendas and biases that will immediately destroy the credibility of the playoff if these guys are used.
Coaches have way too much at stake to be trusted to do the job properly so keep their opinions to themselves and let people that have less to lose be responsible for figuring out who the four best teams are each year.
Or just bring back the BCS formula...it worked pretty well and was basically thrown out because the conference commissioners got bored with it working so well apparently.
It didn’t get the attention it deserved on Sunday, which is why I am writing about it in this space today. Arkansas senior Randall Fant pitched for the last time in the regular season at Baum Stadium on that day. He received a standing ovation from the crowd as he left the game in the seventh inning. To the untrained spectator, this is no big deal, but to understand you need to know the whole story.
Fant had a couple of legal incidents with alcohol in 2009 and 2010. He paid the price to get back in the good graces with Dave Van Horn who stuck with him when he could have sent him packing. Fant also had to deal with not being able to get results consistently for most of his career. He was the Sunday starter for most of his time in Fayetteville and didn’t really give Arkansas much until this season.
Fant’s senior year has been outstanding. He has earned a 5-1 record and in a very competitive pitching staff he has held onto his spot as the Sunday guy. He has helped Arkansas get some big Sunday wins this year too.
I have been critical of Randall Fant over the past few years but I gotta tell you, I really admire him today. I think you have to admire a kid who keeps going even though things aren’t going his way. You have to respect a guy who can take the heat from fans and media and block it out and save his best season for last. It is really easy to root for a guy who has overcome personal and on the field issues to get to where he is today. It also tells dopes like me that after three years you may think you have the info you need on a player, but that senior year can be better than you expect.
Fant is a lot like this team in general, they are a persistent bunch. Stuff doesn’t rattle this group. They have won every Saturday in SEC play following a Friday night loss.
Randall Fant could possibly find himself pitching a big moment for this baseball program in the month of June and I now have the confidence that he will get the job done.
Out of the blue on Monday, Arkansas announced that Brandon Mitchell has been granted his release. Mitchell was in a tussle with Brandon Allen to be the starting quarterback on this team. He lost the job and he left. Mitchell is a good guy and had a very classy note to the fans on his facebook page that thanked them for their support. So he left the right way in the fans eyes, but leaving was the wrong call.
I am failing to understand how refusing a position change that would help out the team isn’t being selfish? Things didn’t go your way and you are leaving? A senior “leader” loses his position battle and he quits? Yet for some reason, he isn’t being taken to task over this by anyone and it doesn’t make any sense.
The reason for this is because he is going to get his degree. Fans want you to be theirs for four years and after that, they simply don’t care. Mitchell earns a degree from the U of A, so in essence he is some type of free agent. Go wherever you want. No hard feelings.
From Mitchell’s camp, the narrative is that he waited his turn and now he is getting something that he should get because of experience. In the game of football, seniority doesn’t guarantee you anything on the field. It gets you respect in the locker room, but that’s it. So the notion that the Arkansas program “owed” Mitchell the starting job because of tenure is ridiculous.
Speaking of things that are ridiculous, Mitchell’s high school coach was quoted in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette saying that basically, if Mitchell was a local kid the quarterback battle would have played out differently. Once again, Mitchell’s camp is letting emotion take over for rational thought. Brandon Mitchell is no better at quarterback today than he was four years ago. He has improved very little. Also, he only has one year. Why would a new coaching staff hitch a wagon to a one-and-done quarterback when trying to build for the future at Arkansas?
All in all, I think Mitchell had the wrong people telling him the wrong things in his ear and he has made a mistake leaving Arkansas. He might have had an opportunity this year to be a star with the Razorbacks, but now we will never know.