Ryan Mallett: A Breakout Year For an Up and Coming SEC Star

James MoseleyCorrespondent INovember 18, 2009

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 17: Quarterback Ryan Mallett #15 of the Arkansas Razorbacks signals a touchdown against the Florida Gators October 17, 2009 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

At the beginning of the year I don't believe anyone would have thought that the Arkansas Razorbacks would be the highest scoring team in the SEC. With 376 points scored through 10 games and averaging 37.6 ppg, that is exactly the case. After ten years behind the reigns of a somewhat conservative play-calling regime, Arkansas had been a team that never possessed the quick strike threat. Now all that has changed with a larger than life quarterback taking snaps for the Hogs. 

Standing at 6'7", Ryan Mallett is the tallest player to take snaps, although Ian Symonette of the Miami Hurricanes is the tallest player at 6'9". While Ryan Mallett is not a threat to bring down the ball and scurry seventy yards like Hogs past such as Matt Jones, his NFL ready arm makes up for every yard he can't run. Around the state of Arkansas Mallett's arm has become somewhat of an urban legend. Around coffee shops old men speak of tales that Mallett can sit on the ground and easily toss a football sixty yards. I don't know about sitting down but the redshirt sophomore can certainly throw standing up. Every opposing team's head coach has commented on the raw strength of Ryan's arm in pre-game warm ups. Steve Spurrier mentioned in a post game press conference that he saw the potential in Mallett's arm. Unfortunately for the Ole' Ball Coach he and his team were at the business end of a gun slinging demonstration that ended in a 33-16 Arkansas victory. 

Without Ryan Mallett at the quarterback position, the Hogs this year may have been sitting at home watching bowl games. But since the big man has walked on campus things around Fayetteville have changed. While Mallett has made throws that have left commentators from ESPN and SEC network in awe. But Hog fans don't fret, while his arm is NFL ready, his footwork still needs work. The main factor in the bad games Mallett has had this year was his inability to set his feet. Alabama gave him fits with pass rush and stellar coverage that kept Mallett under 200 yards passing. Alabama is the only team to accomplish that feat. But then again it is Mallett's first year in the SEC and he was playing against a defense that I believe will be playing for a National Title. Mallett had a rough game against Mississippi but the blame could mostly fall on the shoulders of the receiving corps. Dropping eight passes and a handful that were potential scores led to a Rebel victory. 

Ryan Mallett is the best quarterback in the SEC...yep, I said it. And I stand by it. How can you argue with a 165.05 quarterback rating, 175 out of 294 for 2,885 yards and 23 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions ? You can't. I know that Tim Tebow is running an offense on the defending national champion Gators, and that they are undefeated. I get that. Just because you are on an undefeated team doesn't make you the best player. That's the number one reason I don't believe in the Heisman trophy anymore. But that's a different story. Ryan Mallett won't show you why he's the best quarterback in the SEC this week against Mississippi State, or even next week against LSU or whatever bowl game the Hogs end up in. But next year when the Arkansas Razorbacks have a little more experience, and Mallett has a little more understanding of just what he can do and how defenses in the SEC will try to scheme against him, that my friend is when the big man will show you why he is the best quarterback in the SEC. Long live the Hogs.