State of the Hogs: Brandon Allen

Brandon Allen isn't going to play against Kansas State, but Cotton Bowl workouts are exciting for the redshirt freshman quarterback.

What is one of the similarities between 1969, 1986, 2008 and 2011 in Arkansas football history?

Those are the seasons Arkansas had a great quarterback sitting out. Yeah, let's throw in Brandon Allen with the likes of Joe Ferguson, Quinn Grovey and Ryan Mallett just to start the conversation.

Oh, there were other great Arkansas quarterbacks who endured a redshirt or transfer season. Billy Moore would have to fall into that category, too, since he's the school's only All-America quarterback. Kevin Scanlon, too.

Tyler Wilson kinda had a redshirt season in 2008, too. He did play and he completed a touchdown pass against Texas before mono decked him for the season and got him a medical redshirt.

How good Brandon Allen is would still be up for speculation. He may still have to wait a bit before taking the bulk of the snaps since Tyler Wilson, the school's first All-SEC quarterback, and Brandon Mitchell still have eligibility left.

But there is a definite buzz among those who follow Arkansas football history as far as the prospects of Allen. He's been praised by head coach Bobby Petrino ever since he signed the Fayetteville signal caller. Here's what Petrino said in August after watching him for three weeks of fall camp:

"Brandon Allen is better than I thought when we signed him," Petrino said. "He's got a quick release, he's accurate and he can throw on the run."

And here's what Petrino said last week as the redshirts got extra work during Cotton Bowl practices:

"He is really exciting," Petrino said. "His quick release, his accuracy. He is really, really intelligent so he picks things up quick.

Obviously, he has to get his feet in better position in time and his shoulder in the correct position at time. It is fun to have him out there and see what he can do."

Petrino noted early in camp that Allen looked good enough that it wasn't an easy decision to put a redshirt on the quarterback. But Allen said last week that it was obvious to him after two-a-days that it was going to be a year to watch and learn.

"I knew in the beginning of the year it was going to be like that, so that didn't bother me at all," Allen said. "I got a redshirt this year and so I'm going to come back next year and really just compete for jobs. That's what I'm after."

It wasn't a typical redshirt in that Allen was on the travel squad. He thinks that part was of great help.

"I think so," Allen said. "Being able to go to the away games like Alabama, LSU and seeing their stadium and what it's going to be like in the future when I do play there was good."

There was time in practice to work in pass skeleton and in Sunday night workouts with the youngsters. Where did Allen grow the most?

"It was probably knowledge, really," he said. "It was learning the offense. When I came in I didn't really know anything so getting really comfortable with the offense and running it all the time at practice has really just helped me a lot."

But there was more 11-on-11 time in the last few weeks as bowl workouts intensified with extra sessions added on with the youngsters like Allen. How was it different?

"A lot, really," he said. "(During the season) in practice I really don't get any team reps or anything like that. So we come out with the young guys and being able to get out behind the O-line and throw and see things happen with the o-line in front of you is really good for me."

That, combined with the regular-season work in both practice and the meeting room, has helped him get better in overall knowledge of a complex offense.

"I was able to get familiar with the offense and really just took a big stride in that and being comfortable running the offense," he said. "It's just being comfortable in the offense and knowing what i'm doing out there."

Allen saw the tempo change a bit in quarterback workouts after the arrival of Paul Petrino as coordinator and his position coach. But the system stayed exactly the same.

"I like him," Allen said. "He's got a lot of energy out there. He obviously knows the offense. He was here before. So him coming in, there's been no lag or anything. It's picked up right away."

Paul Petrino called Allen exciting, just as the head coach did earlier. Paul said he sees all of the natural attributes of a fine quarterback.

Allen is just as excited as his coaches. He understands the high octane nature of the system and it makes for fun thoughts for the quarterback.

"It's really exciting with the playmakers we have," Allen said, "and the things we can do on offense and the style of offense we run is a lot of fun and we can put up points every game."

There's one more game left to complete his redshirt season. But for those youngsters getting bowl work, it gives quarterbacks an exciting feel for what winter workouts and spring drills will be like in a competitive atmosphere.

"I think we're all looking forward to it as well as every other player on the team," Allen said. "Just coming in here in the offseason and getting big and fast and competing for jobs, really. Everyone wants to be able to play. So that's what everyone is after."

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