Spring games seldom give a great read on what a team has actually accomplished.
After the White (first) team basically dominated the Red (everybody else) for a 39-21 win Saturday at Razorback Stadium, the glaring positive is Austin Allen has the look of a pretty good quarterback.
The first thought after the game was that he’d probably be the clear-cut starter at about 12 other places in the league. Okay, maybe not LSU where the question is still open that the coaching staff there would recognize a good quarterback if they fell over one.
Yes, Austin looked that good.
He was throwing out routes on a line and on target. That’s the measure of a quarterback that might can play at the next level. Having some experience at receiver helps on those throws more than most people know. Even on incompletions, most of them weren’t Allen’s fault.
There are plays when everybody does their job and the receiver simply has to make a play, which is the biggest part of his job. In the SEC, a foot of separation between the receiver and the defensive back is as wide open as it gets.
The defensive backs were making plays. The effects of new secondary coach Paul Rhoads is already paying dividends. At a position where coaching can make a huge difference, the Razorbacks secondary looked SEC-capable.
At least that’s the hope.
“You have to take into a little consideration that when we are playing against each other that when things go well with one side of the ball, it usually is because the other side isn’t,” Bret Bielema said later.
And that’s why we know what we don’t know after this spring practice is done.
“Our defense all spring has played extremely well, they have tackled efficiently, they have done a lot of good things day in and day out, which tells me it is not a fluke,” Bielema said. “They are trained, they are coached, they are responding and doing a lot of really good things. I think you saw that particularly in the first half.”
Remember, this was one’s against everybody else.
The Red (everybody else) had just 49 yards of total net offense and only 10 of that was on the ground. It would have been 36 yards rushing except Red team quarterback Rafe Peavey accounted for 26 yards in losses.
While that’s good for the defense, it does raise some eyebrows, however. It leads some of us to one of those uh-oh moments.
In the chaotic 2012 spring game, the No. 1’s downed everybody else 65-0, pointing out that team’s lack of depth behind some pretty decent starting players. That lack of depth showed up early against Louisiana-Monroe and without strong guidance from the top, the team collapsed from there.
This team has some good things.
“There’s a lot of things that we have got to get better at on the offense with the ones,” Bielma said.
Allen wasn’t one of them.
“Austin did some good things, but he has some miscues in the first half that weren’t his,” Bielema said. “He had a dropped pass by Dominique Reed, he had Keon drop the easy touchdown on the sideline sweep over there and had a couple of guys break down in protection that allowed some pressure on him.”
That’s good news for the fans who have agonized on talk shows and message boards about the status of the quarterback position.
Allen will be fine. Quit worrying.
The question marks will be the offensive line, which is breaking in new people with a new coach. Bielema has said it’s a work in progress. Add in some talented question marks at running back, who appear to have potential, but they haven’t shown it in a game yet, and you have the questions.
We probably won’t have the answers until, oh, about the second week of October.
And, yes, that’s when Alabama comes to town.