While Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema stopped short of tabbing a starting quarterback, he did tell the Arkansas News that Brandon Allen had “kind of moved forward the whole day” after Saturday’s scrimmage. Assuming that Allen retains the lead in this hotly contested duel, the Hogs will be better off this fall, as well as in future seasons.
Make no mistake about it: the battle between Allen and Brandon Mitchell is far from over. Both players have impressed Bielema at times during the spring, which means the competition will likely continue well into the fall camp. That will provide each player with plenty of chances to step forward and win the job.
However, the Arkansas program will be better off if Allen takes over as the Hogs’ triggerman.
That’s not to say that Mitchell wouldn’t be a great fit at quarterback. For the most part, he’s done well in his limited opportunities under center, compiling 173 yards of total offense against the New Mexico Lobos in 2011. His athleticism would create all sorts of headaches for opposing defensive coordinators, who would have to limit their blitz packages to account for Mitchell’s skills as a runner.
With that said, it’s worth noting that Arkansas has a huge hole at receiver with the departure of Cobi Hamilton, who accounted for almost one-third of the team’s receptions last year. Should Allen become the starting quarterback, it would free up Mitchell to help fill the void at receiver. Mitchell, who finished third on the team in receiving yards per game last year, would give the Hogs the type of deep threat that they’ll need to succeed under new coordinator Jim Chaney‘s scheme.
Moving Mitchell to receiver (if he’s not playing under center) wouldn’t just help the Hogs put their best eleven players on the field this season, it would also help them down the road. As Allen found out against the Alabama Crimson Tide last year, there’s a big difference between practice and playing against the stellar defenses of the SEC. While the Razorbacks simply don’t have the horses to win the West this year, Bielema will have them ready to compete for the crown in the near future, perhaps as soon as next season. The valuable experience that Allen would gain playing against the nation’s most difficult schedule could mean the difference between playing for an SEC Championship and heading to a non-BCS bowl.
Regardless of who takes the snaps against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, Arkansas will be just fine at quarterback.
But if Allen wins the job, the team will be better off for both this year and in the future.
Terry Johnson is a college football writer for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TPJCollFootball, like him on Facebook and/or add him to your network on Google+.