Ryan Mallett closing in on Arkansas passing mark
The Arkansas quarterback has been exactly what the Razorbacks expected after sitting out last season as a transfer. With his strong arm and seemingly limitless confidence, Mallett has helped the Hogs become the Southeastern Conference's highest-scoring team - and this week he'll have a chance to set the school's single-season passing record.
"When the coach calls a play, he always says, 'This is going to hit,"' tight end D.J. Williams said. "We practice so hard on game-like situations that when tough situations come up in games, he's ready."
Mallett was one of the first "recruits" to join the Razorbacks after coach Bobby Petrino was hired, transferring from Michigan after the 2007 season. He sat out last year while Casey Dick took most of the snaps during his senior season.
When the 6-foot-7 Mallett took over, records began falling immediately. In the team's 2009 opener against Missouri State, he and Tyler Wilson combined to throw for 447 yards, a school mark. The following game, Mallett became the first Razorback to throw for more than 400 yards when he reached 408 in a loss to Georgia.
He enters Saturday's game against Troy with 2,477 yards passing on the season, 152 short of Clint Stoerner's record. Mallett has also thrown 18 touchdowns, eight behind Stoerner's mark of 26.
The only mild disappointment has been Mallett's completion percentage of 57.6, and even that's increased lately. Mallett went 37 of 43 in his last two games against Eastern Michigan and South Carolina, though he's quick to credit his teammates.
"When you've got guys catching the ball no matter where it's at, they make you look good," Mallett said. "There were a couple plays where, if we didn't have the playmakers we have, there'd be more incompletions."
There haven't been many incompletions lately, and on the season, Mallett has only three interceptions. He not only leads the SEC in passing, but he's avoided the crippling turnovers that could put more pressure on the Razorbacks' shaky defense.
"Mallett has done a real nice job taking care of the ball. His decision making helps that," Petrino said. "I think the fact that he does throw the ball so hard, then maybe there could have been a few intercepted that weren't, but any time you have that ratio between touchdown passes and interceptions, I am very happy with it."