After trying to throw cold water on the raging Ryan Mallett hysteria, here's a little jet fuel on the wild fire.
Ryan Mallett looks like the real deal. At least, over the last week six or
seven practices he's looked as good as anything I've seen on a practice
Compared to past Arkansas quarterbacks, I don't remember seeing anything as
good as Mallett has been in the last week.
The last time I saw a quarterback throw so many wonderful passes and
complete almost all of them was before Clint Stoerner's senior season.
Stoerner was flat out spectacular that August.
But not as good as Mallett. No one has ever thrown the deep pass like
Mallett has this past two weeks. Then, he began to grasp the softer throws
about Friday or Saturday. He's been lights out on almost every kind of
throw you can imagine ever since.
Petrino and his offensive staff -- Garrick McGee, Paul Petrino and Mike Summers -- deserve tremendous credit for their work with Mallett.
There is even better news: Mallett's receivers are catching nearly all of
them. It's been something to behold.
There should be one asterisk. Mallett is not being hit in this fall camp.
He wasn't tackled last spring, either.
Will he fare as well and look so sharp when the games and the hitting
Bobby Petrino has as much contact in fall practices as any college coach
you'll find. But he does not believe in hitting quarterbacks.
It's the one difference in what he went through as a college quarterback
for his father at Carroll College in Montana. His father thought
quarterbacks should be hit in practice.
It's hard to compare Mallett to anything I've ever seen at quarterback.
I've never seen a 6-foot-7 quarterback. I've never seen anyone throw the
deep pass as consistently well as Mallett.
There are faint memories of what Troy Aikman looked like in the preseason
of his sophomore year at Oklahoma before he broke his leg. Aikman had the
best arm I'd ever seen to that point. Aikman eventually left for UCLA when
the Sooners turned the helm over to Jamelle Hollieway and locked into the
Mallett's arm is better. Plus, Aikman was running an Oklahoma scheme that
was far from sophisticated. He could throw the prettiest long spirals you
could ever want to see. But he wasn't running a multiple pro scheme like
I'd decided this two days ago when Mallett had put together four straight
spectacular practices in a row. Then came the acknowledgment from Petrino
that, yes, his sophomore quarterback had improved quite a lot. He'd managed
to keep his emotions in check and execute the short passing game that was
not there in the spring.
I've seen other pro arms excel in practice aside from Aikman. There was Gus
Frerotte and T. J. Rubley at Tulsa. I was a student at Arkansas when Joe
Ferguson lit up the practice field with his rifle shots. Stoerner's arm was
pretty good until he separated his shoulder early in his senior season.
Can the Hogs protect Mallett? Some of that will fall on Mallett. He'll have
to solve blitzes in a way that causes defenses to back off.
That's been the strength of Petrino offenses. To twist John L. Smith's line
on special teams, Petrino's ability to win one-play battles for huge chunks
of land is what makes him an offensive genius.
That's what a former college head coach with an offensive reputation called
Petrino earlier this week after watching two days of practice.
"Bobby Petrino's forte is developing quarterbacks," the old coach said.
"From what I've seen the last two days, he's exceptional. Mallett is really
good, but what you see is a coach wrapping his arms around a talent and
molding him into his system. They get more done on the practice field to
develop a quarterback than anything I've ever seen.
"The repetitions they get in the passing game are out of this world. I
don't see how you couldn't improve as a quarterback with the way they
practice. This is going to be fun to watch."
State of the Hogs: Ryan Mallett
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