Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen made an unexpected return against Texas A&M last Saturday, playing two weeks after suffering a sprained shoulder.
Don’t count Arkansas coach Bret Bielema among the surprised Allen played despite revealing the initial timeline for the sophomore’s return was three or four weeks.
“I know he’s been around the game a lot,” Bielema said. “I know he’s a tough kid. When I saw (Allen’s father) Bobby (Allen that) Sunday I said, ‘What do you think?’ He said ‘He’s pretty sore coach.’ But he said, ‘My son’s a quick healer.’
“So you just get a feel around certain kids, what they’re going to do.”
Allen completed 17 of 36 passes for 282 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in the 45-33 loss. His return provided a much-needed spark for the Razorbacks’ passing attack, which put together a season-high effort.
He did make a costly mistake, throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown on the first series of the third quarter. Allen also struggled in the fourth quarter, completing just 2 of 10 passes for 32 yards with another interception.
Bielema said Saturday he thought fatigue factored into the fourth quarter completion percentage. But he said Allen wasn’t too sore after the game and should be “full go” for practice this week as the Razorbacks prepare for No. 18 Florida.
“I’ve only known him through the games that we’ve played,” Bielema said about Allen and his performance after the shoulder injury. “But I saw a feisty, aggressive, angry, competitive young man Saturday night that can win a lot of football games.”
Down goes Bielema
Bielema knew what was coming when he noticed the camera phones Saturday.
The coach, wearing his pregame suit and tie, slipped on the slick pavement and fell to his knees during Arkansas’ Hog Walk before the 45-33 loss to Texas A&M. So after getting back to his feet, Bielema had no doubt the moment would go viral.
“As soon as I got up, and I saw those phones, I said, ‘Oh, this is going to be an instant YouTube phenomenon. Especially for the haters out there,” Bielema said. “I knew they’d have some fun with that.”
One video post of Bielema’s stumble had been viewed 95,860 times on YouTube as of Monday afternoon. The stumble also found its way to websites of national publications like USA Today, Yahoo!, The Sporting News.
“I was enjoying my own business,” Bielema said of the fall. “I think I showed my athleticism. I think a lesser athlete probably would have been down for the count.”
Bielema added he wasn’t the only one that slipped on the rainy day. Two players fell as well on the wet pavement. So Bielema said Arkansas will look into finding ways to ensure there is more traction on the Hog Walk to avoid similar stumbles again.
But Bielema had no trouble laughing about it Monday.
“I’m glad I didn’t have any bleeps and also recovered pretty well, I thought,” Bielema said. “My wife came home, she said, ‘Did you fall?’ I was like ‘Yeah, let’s not talk about it.’ I think our players were having some fun with it (Sunday). Nobody said anything to me, but I could tell. The elephant in the room.”
Arkansas defensive lineman Deatrich Wise earned the first start of his career against Texas A&M, lining up on the interior in a scheme intended to get more athleticism up front to combat quarterback Johnny Manziel’s talents.
Wise finished with six tackles including a half-sack. But he gained more attention for his over-exuberance after being in on two tackles. Wise danced after combining with Chris Smith for a sack, which could’ve subjected him to a penalty. The redshirt freshman also celebrated after limiting Manziel to a short gain on a scramble.
Arkansas’ coaching staff noticed Wise’s antics and spoke to him about it.
“I wish I had seen that (Saturday) night,” defensive line coach Charlie Partridge said. “I would have handled that right away. Disappointed in that reaction. I’m all for fun, but don’t want to do things that draw attention to them as an individual.”
Said Bielema: “I would be surprised if you see that out of (No.) 48 again.”
Bielema wants spirit and energy on defense, but also needs players to divert their attention to something else after a play – especially against a no-huddle offense.
“We made a point to our defense, I want them to make a play, scramble around, make a play, and then everybody should look their eyes on the sideline,” Bielema said. “We’re just not getting the calls to them … We’re trying to, but their eyes aren’t disciplined. They’ve just never had to do it, so we’ve got to force it.”
Arkansas plans to get RB Korliss Marshall more involved on offense after the freshman rushed for 16 yards on his only carry Saturday. Marshall — who started the season at safety — also will continue his work on kick returns after averaging 24.7 yards on three attempts. … Bielema said CB Tevin Mitchel will be limited during today’s practice after suffering a head injury against Texas A&M. Mitchel left the game after a helmet-to-helmet collision with teammate Braylon Mitchell. Bielema was optimistic Mitchel, who is fifth on the team in tackles (25), will be ready for Florida. … Kickoff time for Arkansas’ game against South Carolina on Oct. 12 has been set for 11:21 a.m. It will be televised by the SEC Network and carried by KATV in Central Arkansas and KHBS in Northwest Arkansas.