Will Ryan Mallet's Injury Make or Break the Arkansas Razorbacks 2010 Season?
It is all over the news: Ryan Mallett out three to four months with a broken foot. Every blogger and sportswriter in the nation, that pays attention to college football, has had something to say about it by now.
"There goes Arkansas' 2010 hopes" or "The Razorbacks are lucky it happened now" are two of the most common things you will hear, and both could be true.
The Razorbacks are lucky it happened now and that Mallett should be back and fine by June. Mallett was statistically the best quarterback in the SEC in 2009 and is a Heisman hopeful for 2010. He literally re-wrote the record books breaking or tying 16 Arkansas records in just his first season as the starting quarterback.
Losing someone of that stature is a huge loss, and with injuries you just never know how a person will recover. But you recruit depth and play as a team, so with one player the hopes of a team cannot fall. And Mallett is a fierce competitor that everyone in and around the program expects to bounce back better than ever.
In a somewhat eerie fashion, one of Arkansas' major media outlets published a story just days ago discussing how Petrino prepares for and or deals with quarterback injuries. CLICK HERE
Many Arkansas fans have been asking: Who is going to step up in 2011 when Mallett leaves?
Unfortunately and fortunately those fans are going to get a sneak peak earlier than expected.
The news of Mallett's injury is the worst possible thing that could come out of the Arkansas camp, but let's delve into the positives that could come of this terrible news.
First, the Razorbacks have a talented pool of quarterbacks on campus (see my recent Arkansas Quarterback U article). Mallett chose to return to Arkansas and not enter the 2010 NFL Draft where he would have been considered one of the top quarterbacks, and it is almost an absolute certainty that he plans to enter the 2011 Draft.
So the battle for the No. 2 spot is going to be heavy when spring practices start next month. Tyler Wilson, Brandon Mitchell, and Jacoby Walker will get a ton of work and attention with Mallett sidelined. Petrino will use this as an early audition for who is going to be the next starter at quarterback for the Razorbacks.
Second, is that this injury will get Mallett off the field and more into the film room and playbook. Here is where Mallett needs to make his improvements to both be NFL ready, and to take the Razorbacks over the hump in the SEC in 2010.
Mallett has all of the god-given abilities and talent that you look for in a quarterback, and then some. This injury may be a blessing in disguise that will force him to make these improvements in his leadership and preparation, and make him a more well-rounded quarterback.
The last positive I feel that will come from this is a general one, and it is that at any time your number can be called.
Events such as this can serve as a real eye-opener for players struggling to make the two-deep roster. Nothing gets such a player's attention more than an injury to a team's star player, and the injury to Mallett is just that.
The team needs to rally around each other, with a seize the moment type of motivational approach. Bobby Petrino has quickly added quality depth to nearly every position in the short time he has been at Arkansas. So this should have a major impact on a large group of players.
The injury to Ryan Mallett is no doubt an unwelcome one. The Razorback Nation had their hopes on his shoulders to carry the Hogs to great things in the 2010 season.
Now he will miss important practice time, and will have to work hard to come back and not miss a beat. However, great teams and players typically have defining moments which are moments that media members grasp onto.
This very well could be the Razorbacks and Ryan Mallett's moment. How he and the team responds to the situation will determine whether this makes or breaks the Arkansas Razorbacks 2010 season.
This article was written by Blake Stansbery of Born Hog Wild.
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