Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Tough finish for Arkansas' Ryan Mallett
By Brian Bennett
NEW ORLEANS -- If Ryan Mallett's final pass of his college career was the last one he threw in the Superdome, it may haunt him for a long time.
The Arkansas quarterback had a brilliant season and was in position to finish a legendary comeback in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. But with 58 seconds left and his team on the 18-yard line, Mallett was intercepted by Ohio State's Solomon Thomas. The only turnover of the game sealed the Razorbacks' 31-26 loss.
"I didn't see the guy," Mallett said. "He dropped out. I tried to get rid of it quick [because] they had pressure coming. He made a great play."
Mallett had an up-and-down night. He threw for 277 yards and two scores but completed just 24-of-47 pass attempts. He was victimized by six dropped balls but also missed a few open receivers. On a key fourth-and-1 call in the first half, the 6-foot-6 Mallett had a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage. And Ohio State sacked him four times.
But what might sit with him most is that last throw.
"It was a tough play," he said. "It's not the way you want to end the year, obviously."
The question is whether it's the end of his career. When asked whether he will enter the NFL Draft, the junior said he hasn't thought about his future, which is impossible to believe. Against Ohio State, he showed scouts a powerful arm and nimble feet, but also a tendency to hold onto the ball a few moments too long.
If it was his last game, he lost to the team he thought he'd be trying to beat regularly when he began his college career with Michigan. At Arkansas, he has thrown for more than 3,600 yards each of the past two years and 62 touchdown passes.
"Ryan's done an unbelievable job with his leadership and his competitive spirit," head coach Bobby Petrino said. "He lifts everybody around him to compete and play better."
Petrino said Mallett did exactly what he was supposed to do against the Ohio State zone blitz on his final play.
"The only difference is when they blitzed, they clicked out a linemen that he did not see," Petrino said.
Now we'll see whether that was Mallett's final throw for the Razorbacks.