Belk Bowl Match-Up Series: The Quarterbacks
As the Belk Bowl nears, it is time to breakdown each position group to determine which team has the edge heading into the December 29th showdown in Charlotte. First up, the quarterbacks.
The Virginia Tech Hokies and Arkansas Razorbacks prepare to do battle on Thursday the 29th, and it is hard to dispute that all eyes will be on the signal callers behind center when looking at which team can gain an edge in the match-up.
The Hokies have struggled with consistency at the quarterback position over the last several years, and there were questions abound as to whether or not that would change heading into the first season under coach Justin Fuente.
However, it was clear very early in the season that not only would the quarterback position be more solidified than in years past, but that the offense would be much improved as well.
Junior college quarterback transfer Jerod Evans has been a revelation in his first season in Blacksburg, throwing for 3,309 yards and 27 touchdown passes to only seven interceptions.
Nov 25, 2016; Columbia, MO, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Austin Allen (8) drops back to pass and is pressured by Missouri Tigers defensive end Charles Harris (91) during the first half at Faurot Field. Missouri won 28-24. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Evans has completed 63.5% of his passes on the year, and has averaged a shade over 8.5 yards per attempt en route to a 154.3 passer rating in his first season playing FBS ball.
While Evans has enjoyed great success through the air, it is not the only area of his game at the quarterback position that has been of great worth to the Hokies this season. Evans has been spectacular running the football as well, as he has rushed for 759 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year, leading the Hokies in both categories.
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For Arkansas, they have had very similar success to the Hokies at the quarterback position, where their starter, junior Austin Allen, has thrown for 3,152 yards and 23 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. Allen has completed 61.4% of his passes on the season and has also averaged around 8.5 yards per completion. Allen holds a 146.9 passer rating for the Razorbacks on the season.
Unlike Evans, Allen handles his business purely from the pocket, as he is not a threat to run the football from the quarterback position. He has net negative rushing yards on the season due nearly entirely to being sacked, which counts against rushing totals at the collegiate level.
As far as team statistics are concerned, Virginia Tech and Arkansas are very comparable in the passing game. In fact, the two teams run nearly even in passing offense, as the Hokies rank 35th nationally as the team averages 263.3 yards per game through the air, narrowly edging out Arkansas’ 36th-ranked passing offense that averages 263.0 yards per game.
While the team ranks are close, the discussion of which team has the edge at quarterback is not. Jerod Evans and the Hokies get the nod here, because while the Austin Allen’s passing numbers are very similar, Evans’ are slightly better and the added dimension of him running the football as a dual-threat player seals the deal.