Mallett Working On His Accuracy

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett dropped back, stepped forward and then rifled a pass across the field Tuesday afternoon.

Over and over again, Mallett showed in practice that the rumor about his shoulder being injured appears false. And as he hurled spirals at his wide receivers, the sophomore proved that he could be an accurate passer when everything goes right.

While Mallett remains the Southeastern Conference's leading passer, his accuracy has been off lately. He completed only 12 passes in each of the past two games, consecutive losses at top-ranked Florida and No. 24 Ole Miss.

During that stretch, the strong-armed quarterback completed only 39.3 percent of his throws. Of course, it didn't help that Arkansas' offensive line struggled with its pass protection, and when Mallett had time to stand in the pocket, his usually reliable receivers often dropped several passes.

"Complete some passes, that's what I gotta do. Hit the open guys, don't miss the open guys and just make plays," Mallett said, giving a simple explanation on how to correct the mistakes. "And we'll get that back up."

Facing a winless Eastern Michigan team at 6 p.m. Saturday could be a good start, even though the Eagles lead the nation in pass defense (124.4 yards per game).

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said he's not overly concerned with Mallett's recent accuracy problems. After all, the sophomore leads the SEC in passing with 1,900 yards and 15 touchdowns to only three interceptions.

But Mallett's 52.0 completion percentage ranks last in the SEC amongst the 10 quarterbacks who are averaging at least 140.8 yards passing per game.

"Every quarterback goes through it more than once in a season, more than once in their career," Petrino said of Mallett's recent struggles. "... That's just something that you have to continue to talk about, continue to work at and get better at as a quarterback."

Petrino said several factors have contributed to Mallett completing only 24-of-61 passes over the past two weeks, aside from the protection problems and dropped balls.

For starters, the 6-foot-7, 238-pound sophomore has had some trouble with his throwing technique, at times over-striding. He has also tried to throw downfield too much instead of simply being patient and standing in the pocket long enough to find his open receivers.

Facing constant pressure from Ole Miss' defense, Mallett completed only 12-of-34 passes for 254 yards in the 30-17 loss. His only touchdown pass came by accident, when wide receiver Carlton Salters caught a 58-yard pass that was deflected into his hands.

"Maybe last week I went deep a little too much, trying to get it back once we got down 14-0," Mallett said. "But we left a lot of points out there, and you just got to go through progressions and get the ball to the person it needs to go to."

The Ole Miss loss marked the second consecutive game in which Mallett failed to complete at least half of his passes. He was 12-for-27 for 224 yards with one touchdown in a 23-20 loss at Florida on Oct. 17.

Coincidentally, Mallett has completed only 12 passes in three of Arkansas' four losses. The lone exception came in his best performance as the Razorbacks' starter, when he completed 21-of-39 passes for a career-high 408 yards and five touchdowns in a 52-41 loss to Georgia on Sept. 19.

"The first thing (for Mallett) is keeping your poise, really understanding that you're job is to execute the offense (and) not try to make things happen," Petrino said. "I think Ryan really tried to make things happen instead of just executing the offense and letting the offense work for him to make things happen."

Apparently, Mallett's problem has nothing to do with his throwing shoulder. He said his shoulder feels "100 percent," disputing a rumor that circulated Tuesday.

"It's Arkansas. It's like that all the time," Mallett said of the rumor. "Remember two years ago?"

Accuracy Woes

For the most part, quarterback Ryan Mallett has struggled with his accuracy in Arkansas' losses this season. The lone exception was his performance in a 52-41 loss to Georgia on Sept. 19 that turned into a shootout.

Here's Mallett's statistics in the team's four losses:

Opponent Comp. Att. Yds TDs Int.

Georgia 21 39 408 5 0

Alabama 12 35 160 1 1

Florida 12 27 224 1 0

Ole Miss 12 34 254 1 0

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