Austin Allen’s maturation could be key for Hogs


Arkansas coach Bret Bielema joked about his starting offensive linemen referring to the Razorbacks’ starting quarterback Brandon Allen as their precious jewel.

The third-year Razorbacks coach quipped, “I don’t know if I would want to be referred to like that by a bunch of men.”

However, the health and welfare of Brandon Allen hasn’t been a joke to the Razorbacks the past two seasons. It can be argued that injuries to Brandon Allen in each of Bielema’s first two seasons cost the Razorbacks at least one victory each year.

A separated shoulder in 2013 kept Allen on the bench for a road trip to Rutgers in 2013. The Razorbacks held a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter, but the Hogs inability to move the ball in the fourth quarter allowed the Scarlet Knights to squeak by with a 28-24 victory. You can’t convince me that the Razorbacks would have lost that game if Brandon Allen had been healthy.

More recently, Bielema opted to keep Brandon Allen in the game in last year’s regular-season finale at Missouri despite the fact he had a back and hip injury that was aggravated by a second-quarter hit. The injury impacted the accuracy and velocity of his passes, and the Hogs’ offense bogged down because of it. With the Hogs being unable to move the chains and possess the football, the Razorbacks’ defense wore down, and the Tigers survived an ugly game for a 21-14 victory.

Likewise there is no doubt in my mind the Razorbacks would have won the game if Brandon Allen had been healthy, and like many others I sure would like to know what would have happened if Bielema had opted to put backup quarterback Austin Allen, Brandon’s little brother, in the game.

Austin Allen polished off the 19-0 victory the week before over Ole Miss when Brandon Allen originally hurt his hip. It seemed like a no-brainer that Austin should have gotten a shot against Missouri.

But when Bielema didn’t put Austin in the game, it was evident he had to have his reasons. There is a difference in closing out a blowout at home and playing in a road game in a hostile SEC environment.

Bielema revealed during the summer that based on the younger Allen’s maturity level and performance within the program at that time, he judged the Hogs had a better chance of winning with an injured Brandon Allen than with a healthy Austin Allen.

The good news for the Razorbacks and their fans is that Brandon is not as precious of a jewel to the Hogs’ fortunes this year as he was last season because little brother Austin got the message from last season’s Missouri game.

Austin was smart enough to realize that his approach to the game had to change to earn Bielema’s confidence, and he was tough and resilient enough to do something about it.

Bielema noticed the change in spring practice when Austin held off challenges by Rafe Peavey and Ty Storey for the backup quarterback spot. The competition wasn’t even close, according to reports.

Bielema took note of Austin’s dedication. A case in point, Bielema popped into his office at the Fred W. Smith Football Center early one Saturday morning this summer and noticed that Austin was alone in the weight room, getting in an additional workout. That impressed Bielema.

“He didn’t know I was going to be there,” Bielema said.

If anything Austin further distanced himself from the pack in preseason camp, and his work impressed Bielema enough to give him a vote of confidence when a fan asked a general question about team depth last week at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club’s first meeting of the season.

“Austin Allen probably had the most impressive role as a backup player being able to show what he can do,” Bielema. “I thought he had a huge jump.”

And that jump could be huge for the Hogs. We all know what quarterback depth meant to Ohio State last season.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not predicting a national title or even a SEC Western Division title for Razorbacks, but the Hogs having a backup quarterback that Bielema believes in is a very good asset. It speaks to the growth of the entire program.

While I hope Brandon Allen takes all the truly meaningful snaps this season, history says that probably isn’t going to happen. But at least this season, it appears the Hogs will be in much better shape when there is an opportunity for a backup quarterback to play.

Depth Chart – GAME 1: UTEP


4 Keon Hatcher (Sr., 6-2, 210)
7 Damon Mitchell (So., 6-2, 207)

1 Jared Cornelius (So., 5-11, 202)
81 Cody Hollister (Jr., 6-4, 208) – OR –
87 Dominique Reed (Jr., 6-3, 180)

84 Hunter Henry (Jr., 6-5, 253)
46 Alex Voelzke (Sr., 6-5, 253)

55 Denver Kirkland (Jr., 6-5, 340)
62 Johnny Gibson (R-Fr., 6-4, 330)

73 Sebastian Tretola (Sr., 6-5, 334)
50 Josh Allen (Fr., 6-2, 300)

65 Mitch Smothers (Sr., 6-3, 322)
75 Zach Rogers (Fr., 6-1, 310)

72 Frank Ragnow (So., 6-5, 312)
59 Marcus Danenhauer (Sr., 6-4, 312)

70 Dan Skipper (Jr., 6-10, 331)
60 Brian Wallace (R-Fr., 6-6, 317)

10 Brandon Allen (Sr., 6-2, 210)
8 Austin Allen (So., 6-1, 210)

3 Alex Collins (Jr., 5-11, 215)
24 Kody Walker (Jr., 6-2, 256) – OR –
22 Rawleigh Williams III (Fr., 5-10, 215)

83 Jeremy Sprinkle (Jr., 6-6, 255)
36 Jack Kraus (R-Fr., 6-5, 235)

24 Kody Walker (Jr., 6-2, 256)
44 Austin Cantrell (Fr., 6-4, 250)

80 Drew Morgan (Jr., 6-0, 195)
82 Luke Rossi (R-Fr., 5-11, 203)


6 JaMichael Winston (Jr., 6-4, 262)
48 Deatrich Wise Jr. (Jr., 6-5, 272)

93 DeMarcus Hodge (Sr., 6-1, 340)
91 Hjalte Froholdt (Fr., 6-4, 299) – OR –
86 Armon Watts (R-Fr., 6-5, 304)

94 Taiwan Johnson (Jr., 6-2, 290)
78 Bijhon Jackson (So., 6-2, 325) – OR –
89 Mitchell Loewen (Sr., 6-5, 275)

97 Tevin Beanum (So., 6-4, 280) – OR –
55 Jeremiah Ledbetter (Jr., 6-3, 280)
96 Karl Roesler (So., 6-1, 255)

27 Khalia Hackett (So., 6-2, 230)
35 Dwayne Eugene (So., 6-1, 235)

21 Josh Williams (Jr., 6-1, 237)
45 Josh Harris (R-Fr., 5-10, 220)

51 Brooks Ellis (Jr., 6-2, 242)
23 Dre Greenlaw (Fr., 6-0, 222)

29 Jared Collins (Jr., 5-11, 172)
5 Henre’ Toliver (So., 6-1, 186)

28 Josh Liddell (So., 6-1, 210)
30 Kevin Richardson (So., 6-0, 175)

26 Rohan Gaines (Sr., 5-11, 195)
9 Santos Ramirez (R-Fr., 6-2, 202)

2 DJ Dean (Jr., 5-11, 202)
16 Cornelius Floyd (So., 5-11, 172)


9 Cole Hedlund (R-Fr., 5-10, 165)
42 Lane Saling (So., 5-8, 170)

37 Toby Baker (Jr., 6-3, 202)
56 Matt Emrich (Jr., 6-3, 191)

48 Adam McFain (Jr., 6-0, 187)
42 Lane Saling (So., 5-8, 170)

32 Drew Gorton (Sr., 6-0, 210)
56 Matt Emrich (Jr., 6-3, 191)

56 Matt Emrich (Jr., 6-3, 191)
37 Toby Baker (Jr., 6-3, 202)

14 Eric Hawkins (Jr., 5-11, 180)
7 Damon Mitchell (So., 6-2, 207)

1 Jared Cornelius (So., 5-11, 202)
22 Rawleigh Williams III (Fr., 5-10, 215)

1 Jared Cornelius (So., 5-11, 202)
2 DJ Dean (Jr., 5-11, 202)
7 Damon Mitchell (So., 6-2, 207)