Spotlight on little-used quarterback, Jack Allison
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Reed-thin and without much collegiate experience, newly-installed West Virginia University quarterback Jack Allison commanded an inordinate amount of pre-game attention, as West Virginia prepared for its Camping World Bowl game with zesty Syracuse, a team completely happy with its bowl existence.
Allison threw all of 10 passes this season, as the Mountaineers went 8-3 overall, but lost its final two games.
At 6-foot-6 and only 205 pounds, Allison is said to be troubled when harried by defenders in his face. Scrambling is not his forte.
During its 9-3 season, the Orange relied heavily on blitzing linebackers and had players coming from a lot of different angles at quarterbacks. Allison knows his pre-game plans could be disrupted by unplanned-for pass rushers coming toward him more often than not.
However, Allison is not without talent.
He started his collegiate career at Miami of Florida, a school that doesn’t experiment with players.
In high school, Allison played at Palmetto High in Florida, and threw up passing records like they were confetti.
Recruited from the time he was a junior, he finally decided on Miami. But when he didn’t play and could see his opportunities weren’t growing brighter down the line, he transferred to WVU.
Will Grier was in front of him. Will Grier stayed in front of him.
When Grier decided against playing in the bowl game, Allison became the player the media suddenly looked at as an important story.
What will the WVU game plan have for Allison . . . and have to blunt the blitzing schemes brought by Syracuse? Probably more short- and medium-range throws, rather than the downfield passes Grier aimed at his corps of receivers. Running backs flaring out of the backfield just might be Allison’s most-used targets.
West Virginia will probably call on its runners more than it would normally do if Grier were in the saddle against Syracuse.
Syracuse has a quality quarterback in Eric Dungey. The Orange were wrestled to the ground only once, and that was by unbeaten Notre Dame in a blowout loss at Yankee Stadium. Its other two losses were not unexpected, one being to unbeaten Clemson.
The Mountaineers known their offensive strengths. And they know Allison’s limitations and won’t give him the reins to operate like a two-time all-conference player.
Allison’s play book will be limited. Syracuse wants to fluster him early and give him cause to see blitzers on nearly every passing down.
We’ll see what he has learned in the time since Grier left. We’ll see if he survives without injury the frenzy all around him.