Rookie Scouting Portfolio contributor David Igono profiles the play-action game of Buccaneer quarterback Austin Allen.
Football is a game that in all its complexity and variance can boil down to one singular question: can you stop what you know is coming? The mark of an accomplished player is the ability to make plays in spite of your opponent knowing exactly what is going to happen.
I’m not an expert on animal fables but one fable that has always stuck with me is The Scorpion and the Frog. Essentially a scorpion asks a frog to take him across a river. The frog is doesn’t want to because he fears the scorpion will sting him. The scorpion promises he won’t. The frog agrees to give him a ride to the other side however the scorpion stings the frog halfway across the river killing them both.
Austin Allen of the University of Arkansas is the scorpion. Specifically, Allen is rather destructive to a defense when he can set up his passing game with run plays and play action. The flip side of that is that the defense is the frog. Allen’s game outside of play-action is pedestrian. A defense that can take away his penchant for finding voids in coverage off of play-action can go a long way in neutralizing a looming threat.
The next clip is the first offensive play from scrimmage for Allen in this particular game. Allen’s primary objective on any play-action is to get as many defenders eyes fixed on the run as possible. That sets up his next directive which is to get said defenders hips and feet out of position. It may seem elementary but those two factors compound Allen’s ability to target open receivers because he knows his guys have at least a step on the nearest defender.
To consistently employ play-action in the manner that Allen does a quarterback has to have the brashness of a used car salesman combined with the smoothness of Miles Davis at Carnegie Hall. The backside defender on this goal line play knows what Allen is up to but still loses contain and gives up a touchdown in the process.
When you take Allen out of the play-action environment and you ask him to make quick decisions it does not play to his strengths. His game is much more suited for five to seven step drops that are paired with movement or play-action. Allen tends to escape the pocket when he doesn’t have those elements in a play call like the ensuing exposure.
At the next level defenses will be geared to take away Allen’s strengths. He will be forced to make reads and get the ball out quickly. Can he make that leap? If he can make quicker decisions and refine his mechanics we just may get to see more of a player who leverages play-action like few others in this class.