If anyone has doubts about who is going to be the starter at Houston, let me erase those concerns. Kyle Allen is going to start, and it’s not even close. His skills and intangibles are unmatched on the roster, and he will pick up right where Greg Ward left off. There are some concerns in Houston that the transition to Major Applewhite as head coach could mean a drop off in wins. Allen will play a large role in silencing the doubters, and there are multiple reasons why the Cougars should be excited for 2017.
Weight: 210 pounds
Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ (Desert Mountain High School)
Last College: Texas A&M
Stats (Texas A&M)
Life at Texas A&M
Allen went to College Station as a highly touted recruit, and the Aggies were excited about his potential. After Kenny Hill cooled down in the 2014 season, Allen took over and went 3-2 as a starter with 1,058 yards and 13 touchdowns passing. Before the 2015 season, Hill decided he would transfer with Allen taking over and another top recruit, Kyler Murray, committing to Texas A&M. That season was a roller coaster for both Allen and the Aggies, but it appeared as if there were potentially some culture issues. Allen and Murray both decided to transfer for the 2016 season, and Allen would later make some comments about that culture. Now he’s at Houston, and his career may just be starting to take off.
Future at Houston
Replacing one of Houston’s great quarterbacks in Greg Ward won’t be easy, but there are many ways in which Allen can have an impact in the game. A strong arm and underrated quickness allow him to run the offense, but his natural leadership will result in success right out of the gate.
Passing is the one area that Allen excels more than Ward did. At 6’3”, Allen can see the field better than his predecessor, and that size allows him to make more throws within the pocket. His arm strength provides him with opportunities to fit passes in tight windows, and lead receivers on deep routes. Allen has the weapons to utilize downfield, and he gets to work with Major Applewhite and Brian Johnson. Applewhite helped Ward throw for 6,385 yards and 39 touchdowns while completing 67 percent of his passes. Johnson helped Dak Prescott produce two of the best seasons for a Mississippi State quarterback, and also worked with Nick Fitzgerald who some think can be better than Prescott. You could make the argument that Allen is more skilled than all three of those quarterbacks mentioned, meaning Johnson could produce his best star yet. Allen also will get an opportunity to play a full season, and work through any struggles he may endure without the worry of getting benched. That confidence will allow him to play freely and make smart decisions in both the passing and running games.
Johnson is used to calling designed quarterback runs, but he may have to scale those calls back with Allen. As a pass-first quarterback (just 146 career rushing yards on 84 carries), Allen’s ability to throw should be utilized more than his speed, but that doesn’t mean he can’t run. His running ability may be his most underrated characteristic, and he should use what he learned from watching Greg Ward to keep plays alive and make throws downfield.
With two years of SEC experience under his belt, the game will slow down tremendously for him. Even though he sat out a year, Allen consistently said that Applewhite kept him sharp in meetings last year by calling on him to explain a certain play or read. Everyone knew that it was Allen’s job once Ward left, and Applewhite was ensuring that he would be prepared to step into a leadership role immediately. And he’s ready. The only thing that will hinder Houston is Allen’s chemistry with the rest of the offense, but anyone from his past would say that won’t be a problem. One thing that has been said multiple times is that teammates gravitate towards Allen, and he is a natural leader. Traits like that are difficult to measure, but the results speak for themselves. Allen is a winner who came to a winning school and will be coached by two former quarterbacks who knew how to win in their day. With that combination, Houston and Allen should have lofty expectations this year.
Kyle Allen is undoubtedly going to be the starter against UTSA, and the college football world will finally get a chance to see him play a full season. Houston may be under a new regime, but wins won’t be sacrificed because of it. His time at Texas A&M didn’t go how he wanted, but his time with the Cougars should go much better. With all of the talent around him, Allen will make Houston’s offense one to fear in the conference. The separation of Allen from the Aggies was for the best, and his new connection in Houston is just what he needs. #HTownTakeover will be led by the Allen Air Raid, and the AAC better keep an eye on the Cougars in 2017.