Just as some prospects have begun to separate themselves from the field, some prospects have begun to fall short of expectations. Perhaps none more so than Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen. Allen came into the season much ballyhooed. Most draftniks projected the strong-armed quarterback as a first round talent. Some, like storied “quarterback guru” George Whitfield, even going so far as to say that Allen was the best quarterback talent since Cam Newton.
I myself have been riding the Allen hype train, saying that he has high first round potential in my preseason scouting report. I still stand by that projection, as Allen has some incredible physical tools. But after his opening week tilt against the Iowa Hawkeyes, hype cooled considerably on Allen. And rightly so. Allen looked bad against a surprisingly good Hawkeyes defense. He wasn’t able to find guys downfield, couldn’t lead the team on scoring drives, and most disappointingly, he looked defeated. Quarterbacks have bad games all the time, but when your body language is such that says “I’ve lost”, that’s concerning.
People killed Lamar Jackson's NFL stock for him fumbling away a game against Kentucky. Josh Allen has 1 TD 7 INT vs Power 5 teams
— Ian Kenyon (@IanKenyonNFL) September 9, 2017
More concerning; however, is the totality of how Allen has performed against “Power 5” opponents. One poor performance can easily be dismissed as an aberration, but it’s more than just one bad game for Allen. Allen has played two games versus “Power 5” schools, and has thrown seven interceptions to just one touchdown. He has one more chance to prove himself on the big stage this Saturday against the Oregon Ducks.
If Allen comes out and lays another egg, it could mark an end to the first round discussion. Prospects who play at smaller schools have to show up on the big stage when they get the chance. Despite playing in the Mountain West conference, Wyoming is still considered by many to be lesser competition. Should Allen struggle against the Oregon defense, even I may have to abandon the hype train.
Normally this is the part where I would go into detail about the flip side of the match-up, talking about how the Oregon defense matches up with the Wyoming offense. But, to be perfectly honest, this is a complete mismatch. Oregon isn’t necessarily a dominant program on the college football landscape, but their talent far outpaces the Wyoming Cowboys. Allen is the most talented player on the Cowboys and it’s not particularly close. This match-up isn’t as much about how the Oregon defense can scheme against Allen and his weapons.
Rather, this match-up is about whether or not Allen has the ability to take a lesser team on his back and will them to win. Great quarterbacks have a way of raising the talent around them, sometimes to impossible levels. Not only has Allen, to this point, not shown the ability to raise the play of his teammates on the grandest stages, he’s shown that he shrinks in the spotlight. Will Allen be able to buck that trend on Saturday and finally put up a good performance against a major school? Or will the trend continue and the hype circling Allen finally die off? Selfishly I’ll be rooting for a break-out performance from Allen to at least somewhat quiet the doubters.