Arkansas coach Bret Bielema didn’t provide many details on the status of starting quarterback Brandon Allen for Saturday’s game at Rutgers.
Instead, Bielema said it will depend on how quickly Allen can recover from the shoulder injury that knocked him out of Arkansas’ 24-3 win against Southern Miss.
“You know, it wasn’t anything structurally broke or anything like that,” Bielema said during his weekly press conference. “So it’s really just a matter of how fast his body can heal. I know it’s a throwing arm issue. So, it’s not like you’re dealing with something of a normal player that … You’ve got to be full strength. You’ve got to be …
“I wouldn’t want to put him in harm’s way at all.”
Bielema also indicated he doesn’t plan to answer the question this week, either.
He’s placing Arkansas’ quarterbacks off limits to the media and the Razorbacks will continue to work behind closed practice doors. Bielema referenced a 2006 decision at Wisconsin to try to keep his quarterback plan under wraps after starter John Stocco was injured late in the year. His quarterbacks were off limits to the media.
“I’m just kind of going to play that same card,” Bielema said.
Arkansas will prepare backup A.J. Derby for his first start if Allen can’t play. The junior came off the bench to complete 4 of 6 passes for 36 yards against USM.
Derby was shaky when he entered the game and the Razorbacks took a conservative approach offensively, leaning on their ground game to go with a strong defensive effort in the win. But Bielema indicated Arkansas would be comfortable opening things up more Saturday at Rutgers if it turns to Derby once again.
“One hundred percent,” Bielema said. “I mean, we kind of felt we should be able to run the football there and get out of there with what we did. Obviously, it worked well. I knew once we got up by the three scores, I felt comfortable where we were at and the way our defense was playing.
“So, to me, there’s a certain gamesmanship or element to, you know, you don’t have to show everything that you’ve got. Just kind of show the things that you need to.”
Collins, Smith earn SEC honors
The Southeastern Conference recognized Arkansas running back Alex Collins and defensive end Chris Smith for their performances against Southern Miss.
Collins was named the SEC’s Freshman of the Week for the second straight week after rushing for 115 yards and a touchdown. Smith was named the SEC’s Defensive Lineman of the Week after collecting a career-high three sacks.
Both were key in helping the Razorbacks overcome the first quarter injury to Allen.
Collins teamed with running back Jonathan Williams (116 yards and a touchdown) to go over the 100-yard mark for the third straight week. He also made SEC history in accomplishing the feat, becoming the first freshman from the conference to go over 100 yards in his first three games. Collins is the first freshman in the NCAA to accomplish it since Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson in 2004.
“He’s playing really good football right now,” Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said. “He’s a good, talented young man. We watched the tape and felt like he missed a few cuts, too, that were out there that could’ve even jumped his rush total up a little higher.”
Smith accounted for each of Arkansas’ three sacks in the win, helping the Razorbacks keep Southern Miss out of the end zone. Smith now has 4½ sacks this season, which is tied for the NCAA lead after three weeks.
“I’m proud of the way that Chris changed up his pass rush, within the course of the game,” Arkansas defensive line coach Charlie Partridge said. “One was speed one time, he countered back inside one time. He’s changing things up, which makes him a very dangerous football player. Hopefully, we can go from there.”
Allen’s status remains the key question of the week. But Bielema indicated Monday the Razorbacks should be relatively healthy heading to Rutgers.
Tight end Austin Tate (shoulder) and linebacker Otha Peters (arm) will be “full go,” according to Bielema, after working their way back from preseason injuries. Peters got a few defensive snaps against Southern Miss, while Tate went through warmups but did not play.
Bielema also said wide receiver Keon Hatcher (hamstring) should be ready to rejoin the offense after being slowed by his injury most of the summer. Hatcher will help a group that has gotten little outside of Javontee Herndon and Julian Horton.
Arkansas is hoping to get right tackle Grady Ollison back after the sophomore suffered an ankle injury in the first half against Southern Miss. Bielema said Ollison was in a boot Sunday morning, but will be available for today’s practice.
Safety Rohan Gaines (knee) could return to practice today or Wednesday and Bielema said the sophomore will travel with the team this week. Gaines has missed two straight games because of a knee injury he suffered in the opener.
Bielema also said there’s a “good chance” cornerback Jared Collins could practice today or Wednesday. Collins left Saturday’s game after getting “dinged” on a special teams play, according to Bielema. He then collapsed on the sideline.
Arkansas’ home game against Texas A&M in Razorback Stadium on Sept. 28 has been scheduled for a 6 p.m. kickoff. The game will be televised by either ESPN2 or ESPNU. … Bielema announced Arkansas’ players of the week Monday. The recipients: running back Jonathan Williams (offense), defensive end Chris Smith, linebacker Jarrett Lake (defense), and long snapper Alan D’Appollonio (special teams), defensive end Horace Arkadie (scout team defense), wide receiver Nate Crouch (scout team offense) and wide receiver Chris Saunders (scout team special teams). … Safety Alan Turner was not with the team Monday because he was attending his father’s funeral. Turner’s father, Paul, passed away Sept. 6.