State of the Hogs: Running QBs?

Arkansas has the passing game now, but how would a passer with some running ability fit in this offense? Will that be the next offense for Arkansas?

Both Bobby and Paul Petrino have always said that the quarterback needs to be a willing runner. I know that many college coaches prefer a quarterback that has at least some running ability. It provides options in the offense that aren't there with a pure passer. That's a risky situation because of the chance of injury. But it's a risk that a lot of college coaches take.

I dive into this today as Arkansas gets closer to naming a new head football coach. Will it be someone who likes a runner at quarterback? And how important will it be to have references to pro schemes in the description of his offense?

I'll throw out some historical notes. Frank Broyles looks back on his 19 years as coach (in a different era, obviously) and said there was never a time when he had an established quarterback who could run that he didn't win at least eight or more games. Remember, that was mostly when they were playing just 10 games in the regular season.

"If you have a strong runner at quarterback, you don't have to be as strong eslewhere," Broyles was quoted years ago. "There is no offense that can't be handled by a running quarterback. You are severely limited in your choice of offense if your quarterback is a primary passer."

But in the 1960s and 1970s as Arkansas coach, Frank wanted to be known as a passing coach. He did that for recruiting. He said he created that image to recruit quarterbacks and wide receivers. He said they were using the pro offense, but really they had pro passing with veer option set up for a running quarterback.

Broyles said it made a difference in recruiting quarterbacks what the image was and he made sure it had "pro" in it at every chance. That's how he got Bill Montgomery, Chuck Dicus, Joe Ferguson. After Montgomery was established, quarterbacks were an easier get in recruiting for Broyles.

So image is often everything. I wonder what the image will be of the next coach, or what it will be sold as? I do know that recruiting quarterbacks is important.

We've seen that over the years at Arkansas. There have been times that the image was so bad on the development of quarterbacks that they couldn't be lured to Arkansas.

There are coaches out there that are highly successful that emphasize pro passing, but they are going to run the quarterback in some kind of spread.

Former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer said that's the ideal combination. Run the quarterback and the defensive coordinator is not a happy camper. He has another man to account for in his plans and if the other team has talent, it can't be done.

But, you also have to make sure the quarterbacks and wide receivers believe you are based out of pro stuff and will give them a chance to showcase their abilities to make it to the next level.

Paul Petrino was asked about Brandon Allen's development at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club on Wednesday. He's displayed a willingness to run in his brief play in both games and scrimmages in the last year. Allen is likely going to be the next Arkansas quarterback.

"He's gotten a lot of reps and he's really improved," Petrino said. "It was too bad that he didn't get more time against Kentucky. He was going to play the rest of the game (until the suspension for weather) and there were three drops on his only possession."

Here's other notes that came from Petrino's visit at the NWA TD Club:

• The controversial illegal procedure penalty that wiped out the potential tying touchdown against Ole Miss came despite Petrino talking to both line judges before the game about the trick formation. Petrino said, "We had a tackle split out and he was on the ball." Petrino also thought another wideout was on the ball, too, so it was a tough call to take from their review of the film.

• Asked about tape review on Sunday, Petrino said there were three separate viewings before each game is put to bed. There's one with each coach by themselves, one with the staff and then a third with players. The critiques are hard all three times. He said, "If it's a bad Sunday, it's like getting three divorces."

• The Hogs have played several teams coming off bye weeks, including Saturday against Tulsa. Do coaches expect to see anything different? Petrino said, "Not really, you go by the last four games. I always believe, believe your eyes. Maybe there will be some new wrinkles. But when you are successful, you probably don't change much."

• Tyler Wilson has thrown more interceptions this season, but Petrino didn't come close to criticizing him at the meeting. The coach said Wilson needs to check down more often, but if "people in Arkansas don't love Tyler Wilson, they need to look at themselves in the mirror."

• Wideout Cobi Hamilton is nearing a lot of school receiving records and has caught passes in big bunches of late. None of that is a surprise with the way Hamilton has practiced. Petrino said, "His confidence level is high. We always talk about confidence being learned. We chart our practices for catches by period. When you are at 90 to 95 percent in practice, you are going to play well. He goes on the field with a high confidence level based on what he does in practice."

• Tulsa leads the nation in sacks with 35. Arkansas has protected well, especially of late. The Hogs have given up only one sack in the last three games. But sometimes the numbers deceive. Petrino said the Hogs must improve in that area against the Hurricane because "we didn't protect as well last week."

Petrino said some of the problems Wilson had in finding receivers had to do with quick pressure up front from the Ole Miss rush. He said, "I don't think our problems were as much coverage as they were pressure on the quarterback."

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