Bahn: Look For Arkansas' Quarterback To Be On The Move More This Year

by Chris Bahn  on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011 3:45 pm  

Added mobility from Tyler Wilson (and/or Brandon Mitchell) could help the Arkansas offense this year.

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Whoever winds up with the job of quarterback for Arkansas, it’s a safe bet you’ll see him on the move this year.

This isn’t about the questions the Razorbacks have on the offensive line. Well, perhaps a little, but it goes beyond the fact this team could likely replace a pair of three-year starters at tackle with guys in their first season of SEC football.

Here’s the deal: Both Tyler Wilson and Brandon Mitchell move much better than either of their predecessors in the Bobby Petrino offense. Save a couple of early-season touchdown runs for Casey Vick Dick in 2008 and a beautiful touchdown pass against Texas A&M from Ryan Mallett after he sidestepped an oncoming pass rusher in 2010, neither of those guys was particularly mobile or good on the move.

Wilson and Mitchell don't have that problem. Neither would be confused for Cam Newton, Michael Vick or Steve Young, but both add a previously missing dimension to the offense.

Yes, there will still be plenty of drop-back passing for Arkansas. It isn’t a stretch, however, to imagine additional use of play-action and other wrinkles that take advantage of a quarterback who doesn’t need to stand in one particular spot to deliver the ball.

Wilson, in fact, has drawn praise for his ability to deliver the ball on the move. His body or feet might be all over the place, but his accuracy is not.

“[Wilson] adds something to our offense with his ability to move around and make plays," Petrino said. "One thing Tyler is unique, he can throw the ball from different release points, which some people can’t do. So when he’s off-balance and he’s moving, he can still be accurate and deliver the football.”

Petrino touched on the team’s offensive identity at Arkansas’ media day. He acknowledged that the 2011 offense will look somewhat different from the 2010 version based on what the quarterbacks do well.

Mallett was a traditional drop-back passer with a rocket arm. Wilson and Mitchell can deliver the ball after a three- or five-step drop, but they’re capable of going on the move too, and the offense likely will reflect that. And Arkansas isn't overhauling the playbook or adding a lot of new stuff to make it happen.

Petrino illustrated how big his playbook was during Saturday's media day. You could have fit a Little Rock metro area phone book with room to spare in the space between his two hands.

As versatile as the offense has seemed since Petrino’s arrival, portions of it have yet to be fully revealed. Why else would defenses have such a difficult time stopping Arkansas from year-to-year?

Petrino’s massive playbook will be installed three times before preseason camp is over. Throughout camp, coaches are continuously evaluating what players — especially the quarterbacks — are capable of doing.

Whoever winds up winning the quarterback job will find an offense tailored to his specific strengths. It’s something Petrino has done for years. While the principles of the offense remain constant, elements do change from year-to-year based on who is under center.

“What our philosophy has always been is, teach them that playbook, install it three times and then it’s our job as coaches to mold around the quarterback what we do well, how we operate the offense,” Petrino said.



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