State of the Hogs: Enos Likes Experience on Offense

Here’s a column after listening to Dan Enos talk about Austin Allen and offense: … e-offense/

A nice, informative article - as usual, Clay. But I’ve got to challenge you just a little on one over-zealous (IMO) comment:

“Austin did step in for Brandon, two years ago against Ole Miss. He did just fine, completing 3 of 5 passes for 65 yards. [color=#BF0000]Nothing Austin has done says he’ll be anything but perfect in his first season as a starter[/color].”

I guess one could also say “Nothing Austin has done says he’ll be anything but a typical QB seeing his first extended play in the SEC” as well. “Good”, I can understand and even agree with; but “perfect”? That’s a little strong to be based on such limited play so far.

I’m optimistic that AA will do a fine job for us. I do fret about him being as efficient out of the gate as he must (and, I feel, will) become to take us where we want to be in the SEC. It took big brother into his second season of playing (and fourth on campus) to start hitting that mark. This is Austin’s fourth year in the program, but first to see any significant playing time. It would not surprise anyone if he made a few mistakes the first part of the season. In fact, it’s normal. Playing “live” cannot be adequately simulated by practice - it just has to be experienced.

Reads like Clay was making a counterargument to all your worries, Dave. You can challenge all you want, but I think he laid out a number of reasons why he thinks you’re wrong.

I thought the word “perfect” was a little strong too. BA played much better last year but he certainly wasn’t perfect. We’re not going 15-0 this year unless AA is darn near perfect, and even then that might not be enough. The other 10 on the field (and 11 on defense and special teams) have to play out of their minds too.

I do think AA is much better situated to have early success than BA was. Much better surrounding cast. I felt for BA making his first start at Tuscaloosa; that was never going to be anything but a disaster, and of course it was. AA has much better people around him, better defense, etc.

Thanks for your input, BP.

You’re right; but, you could make the same comment in reverse and it would be just as valid.

Clay’s column was largely about allaying concerns anyone might have about Austin taking over the reins. You (or Clay, or anyone) can challenge my position all you want, but I laid out some very plausible reasons why there might be at least a little concern about the transition, especially during the first half of the season.

Both positions are just thoughts/opinions. I’m confident in saying that Clay didn’t post his column (or, for that matter, any column) without the expectation that some would agree with his position, and others might not. The bottom line is that neither side (of this discussion) has any tangible evidence upon which to make a more convincing case one way or the other, where Austin (specifically) is concerned. We’ll all find out this fall. And readers will believe what they want to believe anyway.

Another reason I am concerned about our early QB play (Austin or whoever) is not so much about AA, but it does affect him - the offensive line. I’ve posted several times (as have many others) that there is legitimate reason for concern about the O line being effective early in the season. This has to do with the chemistry that each line develops whenever even 1 new starter is introduced (see us, last season), let alone THREE new starters as we have this season. I don’t doubt either the talent level of the newcomers, or the quality of the new O line coach. It just takes some time for all five OL members to work as one, and no one knows how long that will take. I do think that by the end of the year, barring injuries, this will be a very strong O line unit.

But while that chemistry is developing, it is not a stretch to say both our running game and pass protection will be negatively impacted. And having defenders chasing a young, inexperienced QB around frequently leads to some bad decisions.

For the record, I hope my concerns end up being nothing more than that - concerns. I like Austin and am optimistic about his play for the next two seasons. I was for BA when he got his chance, and remained a supporter after the difficult 2013 season, even as many were calling for him to be replaced. But just like I did 2 years ago when his brother finally was ready to be “the guy”, I expect some growing pains for Austin early on. That’s not a knock on AA - it’s just being realistic.

I will also point out that I have consistently - since last year - called for 2017 to be a “special” year - presumably, with Austin under center.

I’m thinking that AA will appear in mid-season form as Sept begins. I think This being Enos’ second season with AA and the O is huge.

Austin has the PERFECT complement of receivers. Brandon didn’t until the very end. Tyler Wilson told me his junior year was so good because he did have the great receivers. Most were gone his senior year.

Austin Allen’s Perfect Scenario:

A fourth-year junior groomed to step in
He’s had a season under Dan Enos
He’ll be anything but perfect
Enos continues to sing Austin’s praises
Enos pointed at the players around Allen
The wide receivers are stellar
Tight end Jeremy Sprinkle is an all-SEC candidate
Experience at running back
The players around him should be able to carry us
Austin has worked hard
Totally involved in game preparation
Knows how we call a game
He’s grown as a leader
There was a mesh between Anderson and his players
Think we have the right chemistry in the room
We are all excited about it

…for us to be great, he just needs to avoid mistakes, make the right checks, and manage the offense. He will be much better than Brandon as a sophomore as a fourth year junior in his second season with this coordinator and this offense. He learned well from Brandon and he will be much better than Brandon was in his first season as a starter. He will not be as good as Brandon was in the last half of his last season as a starter. Finally, starting in the Tennessee game, Brandon began to make plays late in games to lead the Hogs to victory. He had never done that before failing against Toledo and Ta&m early last season. He finally got over that hump late in his career as the talent around him also got better. This team now has a mental toughness that it did not gain until closing with tough, close, wins at Knoxville, at Oxford, and at Baton Rouge. That and the improving skill players around him will give Austin a much better chance to start his career closer to Brandon’s finish last year than to Brandon’s start three years ago. JMVHO

There is some confidence with this bunch. They also know that nothing will be given. I like the mind set. I believe Austin has been trained to excel in his moment. It starts now.