Strong-arm tactics

When Arkansas's quarterback has a hot hand this fall, odds are his receivers will, as well.

Ryan Mallett, the Razorbacks' 6-7 quarterback, throws the ball with so much velocity that he burns the stick'um off the gloves of his pass catchers.

"Mallett has the strongest arm in college football," tight end D.J. Williams said during SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. "I've caught some balls and had to take my gloves off because he ripped all of the sticky stuff off of them. He's bringing it."

Mallett, one of America's most heralded prospects as a high school senior, decided to bolt after one year at Michigan when the Wolverines brought in new head coach Rich Rodriguez and his spread option offense. Mallett took a look at Tennessee before settling on Arkansas, where he sat out last season as a transfer.

An ideal fit for Razorback head man Bobby Petrino's pass-happy attack, Mallett used to showcase his big-league arm every chance he got.

"Sometimes he would throw the same velocity he would on a post with a little six-yard out," Williams said. "I think he was trying to make a statement.... He does bring it but he's adjusted it."

Mallett's howitzer arm would be of little benefit, of course, without the ability to control it. Apparently, he can do that quite well.

"He's just as accurate as he is powerful," Williams said, "and he's going to be a great quarterback to watch this year."

When Petrino got his first look at Mallett the coach was more concerned with his big waistline than his big arm. Packing 265 pounds on his 6-7 frame, he was too immobile, even for a drop-back passing attack such as Petrino's.

"The first thing we did with him was try to get him to lose weight, so he can move around and do more things," the head Hog said. "He did a nice job of that. When we got him, he was 265 pounds. He's around 238 now.

"With him losing the weight and being more mobile, we're not going to lose our movement game, our ability to run sprint-outs, run the bootleg game, be able to move the pocket. In this league, with the defensive ends we face and the speed and athleticism of the defensive fronts, it's important that you change the launch point, so you can set your quarterback at different spots, take some pressure off the offensive line and running backs at times."

Mallett's mobility may relieve pressure on his blockers but his 44-caliber arm will put a lot of pressure on opposing safeties this fall.

"One thing Ryan can really do is throw the deep ball," Petrino said. "If we can run the ball better and run the ball more consistently, it should open up our deep passing game and our ability to get the ball down the field, something I've always loved to do and really believe in doing."

Williams agrees.

"Mallett will keep those safeties honest," the tight end said. "They're not going to play so far up because they know he can put that ball behind them. It only takes one false step for a receiver to get behind the DB, and he'll put it out there. I think that's the biggest thing his arm will bring to the offense - keeping those DBs back and maybe saving me a couple of hits over the middle."


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