Lack of supporting cast? Greg McElroy questions the Arkansas talent surrounding Austin Allen
There may not be anyone more knowledgeable regarding the play at quarterback from the SEC Network than analyst Greg McElroy. The former Alabama signal caller has taken some flak from Arkansas fans for not counting Austin Allen among his top three SEC quarterbacks but McElroy may have a very good reason for his omission — the talent surrounding Allen on the Arkansas roster.
During a recent guest appearance on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly, McElroy broke down his rationale for leaving Allen outside his top three. McElroy had plenty of compliments for Allen but isn’t quite buying into the talent around the quarterback in Fayetteville.
“You can’t play quarterback by yourself. Right now, we don’t know enough about their wide receiver corp,” McElroy said on the air. “I feel good about (Jared) Cornelius, he’s solid, but he’s never been a (#)1 (receiver). I think they lost a lot of key personnel of the offense in terms of firepower and I’m still not sold on their offensive line.
“Last year, the offensive line was the Achilles heel from a group that used to be among the proudest in the land. They couldn’t pass protect.”
Arkansas gave up 35 sacks last season, South Carolina was the only SEC team to allow more. While the majority of those sacks can be attributed to the offensive line, Austin should also shoulder some responsibility, as he often held on to the ball for far too long — something McElroy noted during his appearance.
“He stood in there, he’s tough as nails, I envy his toughness and applaud his toughness but he can’t just sit back there allowing his receivers to uncover knowing that there’s fire-breathing dragons trying to raise after him,” McElroy said. “There are some stud pass rushers in this league and he’s got to know when to cut his losses.”
Until unknown players step up and showcase what they can do, such as junior college receivers Brandon Martin, Jonathan Nance and Jeremy Patton, and the offensive line shows massive improvement, McElroy isn’t ready to consider Allen will finish among the best signal callers in the league.
“It’s difficult right now to assume Austin Allen is going to reach the heights that he’s capable of reaching because there’s just too much uncertainty considering the pieces around him,” McElroy continued.
His comments weren’t all pessimistic, however, as McElroy sang the praises of new starting running back Devwaa Whaley. While Rawleigh Williams certainly will be a loss to the team, many suggest Whaley is more than capable of picking up the slack. That’s an opinion McElroy clearly shares.
“I think Devwah Whaley is ready to take the next step, I’m not really that concerned about the drop off in production,” McElroy said. “I think Devwah Whaley, given more opportunities last year, could have been highly successful. Maybe not to the extent of Rawleigh Williams but I still believe he’ll do just fine.”