Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema wants to have a run-first, power attack in his second year in Fayetteville.
But in order to do so, he's going to have to add a second dimension to keep opposing defenses honest.
First-year starting quarterback Brandon Allen didn't provide that last year.
The sophomore signal-caller for the Razorbacks completed just 49.6 percent of his passes (128 of 258) for 1,552 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, as the Hogs sputtered to a 3-9 season and 0-8 mark in the SEC. Within the conference, Allen was worse. He completed 47.7 percent of his passes and had more picks (nine) than touchdown passes (eight).
That won't cut it.
Enter: Rafe Peavey.
The 4-star prospect in the class of 2014 signed with Arkansas and enrolled early in an attempt to get acquainted with college life and make a run for the starting quarterback job. The native of Bolivar, Mo., completed 127 of 185 passes as a senior at Bolivar High School for 2,294 yards, 16 touchdowns and only four picks, adding 1,557 rushing yards and 27 rushing touchdowns.
Bielema needs him to hit the ground running when spring practice starts on March 16, because even if he doesn't win the job, Allen needs to be pushed.
Competition breeds success, and Peavey needs to provide that competition for Allen and Arkansas to get better. Peavey was rated as the nation's No. 13 pro-style passer according to 247Sports, but don't let the label fool you. He has good pocket presence and is accurate with the football, but he also can make things happen with his legs—particularly when extending plays behind the line of scrimmage.
"He throws the ball with a nice touch, puts it right on the seam, does a great job of converting and making the play happen," Bielema said on national signing day in quotes released by Arkansas. "He is an accurate passer, very live arm, great demeanor. I’m excited to watch him here and not just the spring game, but all the practices and preparation. I think he’s just what a QB is supposed to be."
Sure, Arkansas has other quarterbacks on the roster who could start this year, including Brandon Allen's younger brother, Austin, redshirt freshman Damon Mitchell and last year's backup AJ Derby.
But considering the elder Allen's struggles last season coupled with Derby's inability to kick-start the offense after Allen went down, it's a stretch to suggest that any of them will legitimately push for the starting job.
It's Peavey's job to push and see what Brandon Allen is made of.
Can he actually win the job?
Probably not in his first spring. But he needs to give Allen a run for his money for the sake of this year's Hogs. If that results in him winning the job during fall camp, that's just a bonus for Bielema's 2014 squad.