What happened to Kyle Allen?
Kyle Allen isn’t the same player he was three weeks ago. In fact, it’s not even close. Put on the tape from Allen’s first five games this season, and you’ll see a quarterback who — though still young and inconsistent at times — flashed undeniable talent and made big plays in big moments (see his Week 4 performance in an OT win vs. Arkansas). Allen played well enough through those five contests (1,274 yards, 13 touchdowns and two interceptions) to be included when discussing the best young quarterbacks in the nation and was considered by many to possess the most NFL potential of any QB in the SEC.
Now put on the tape from his last two games (351 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs), and you’ll have a hard time believing that the player wearing No. 10 for A&M in those contests is the same Kyle Allen from only a few weeks before. The decline in production and performance for Allen over the last two weeks has been quite shocking considering his impressive start to the year. To see just how dramatic the drop off has been, we dove into the PFF data and compared Allen’s performance through the first five games to how he’s fared in his two most recent outings. Here’s what we found:
Yards per attempt
Through the first five games, Kyle Allen was making the most of every pass attempt, on average picking up 8.99 yards each time he threw the ball. That sort of production was good enough to rank him in the top 10 nationally for this metric. Fast forward to Weeks 7 and 8, and Allen’s YPA was nearly cut in half, dropping to 4.74 — one of the three worst in the nation over that span.
|Completion percentage||PFF QB accuracy rating|
Allen’s passing accuracy had been impressive through five games, completing nearly 63 percent of his passes. Further, his PFF QB accuracy rating (a measurement that attempts to show a truer accuracy level by discounting drops, throw aways, spikes, etc.) was even more outstanding at a 74.1 percent rate. Over his last two games, however, both accuracy ratings have dropped significantly – down roughly 20 percentage points each.
Performance under pressure
|Accuracy under pressure|
|Games 1-5||60||8 sacks in 158 dropbacks|
|Games 7-8||47.6||6 sacks in 81 dropbacks|
Kyle Allen has been under pressure on nearly 35 percent of his total dropbacks this season, a number that is far too high and that probably deserves a separate conversation altogether regarding the Aggie offensive line. Over his first five games, he was sacked 8 times in 158 dropbacks. However, when under pressure Allen did a fairly good job of maintaining his accuracy, hitting on 60 percent of his throws. Allen experienced even more frequent pressure versus his next two opponents though, getting sacked six times in roughly half the amount of dropbacks and seeing his accuracy under pressure drop to 47.6 percent.
PFF QB Rating
Possibly the most telling of all stats is the extreme variance in Kyle Allen’s PFF QB rating. Five games into the season Allen ranked in the top five nationally with a rating of 100.32 — impressive for a true sophomore only ten starts into his career. During his last two outings though, Allen’s PFF QB rating plummeted to 52.75 – the worst rating in the nation over that span.
Clearly, in regards to production Allen has been a shadow of the player he was during his first five games this season. Granted, in the last two games he has faced two of the better defenses in the nation in Alabama and Ole Miss, but this change in production level seems to stem from something other than stouter competition alone. So what has prompted this drop in performance?
Is Allen injured? There have been talks that Allen may have suffered a shoulder injury two weeks ago versus Alabama or possibly even in the previous game against Mississippi State. However, despite those rumors the A&M staff this week declared Allen to be healthy.
Is the rest of the A&M offense struggling? To a certain extent, yes. Over the last two games, Allen’s top wideouts, Christian Kirk (-1.6) and Josh Reynolds (-1.7), have earned their two worst grades of the season. Additionally, every starting offensive linemen for A&M has posted a negative grade during that span, excluding center Mike Matthews (+1.9).
Is it a lack of confidence? In his press conference this week, Head Coach Kevin Sumlin did admit that Allen had been dealing with some confidence issues lately. And if his confidence wasn’t shaken already, it almost certainly took a hit when Sumlin then followed up with the announcement that the QB competition in Aggieland had been reopened. Highly-touted freshman Kyler Murray and JUCO transfer Jake Hubenak are now competing with Allen for the right to start at quarterback this weekend vs. South Carolina.
More than likely, Allen’s declining play is due to some combination of the above factors. Regardless of the reasoning behind it though, Allen’s poor performance over the last two weeks should not determine his future. He still has the same talent that made him a five-star recruit and one of PFF’s highest-graded QBs through much of this season. Going forward, Allen’s job (and that of the A&M staff) is to get back to doing the things that made him one of the best young QBs in the nation as recently as three weeks ago.