Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney “didn’t do a lot” with Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen on Tuesday because he wanted the sophomore to continue to recover from the gash in his right leg suffered in the Auburn loss.
But the injury — which required staples to close together — isn’t expected to affect Allen’s status for Saturday’s game at Ole Miss. In fact, Chaney said Allen seemed pretty “comfortable” three days after suffering the unusual injury.
“I don’t know if I have ever seen one that severe from a cleat before,” Chaney said of Allen’s wound, which required 14 staples. “I have seen a lot of tears and a lot of cuts, but nothing to the extent that he got. He got a pretty nasty one on that thing. I wasn’t on the field, but the boys on the field said it was not very pretty.”
That has been the common description from coaches and players as they looked back at the injury, which occurred early in the first quarter. Allen scrambled for a first down and slid, but had his leg stepped on by an Auburn player.
Allen — who wasn’t available for comment after Saturday’s game — didn’t think it was serious at first. But then Allen looked down and knew there was a problem, although he brushed it off as no big deal Tuesday.
“I noticed it was a little bit deeper than I originally thought,” Allen said. “So just get it cleaned up, get it closed up and we’re good to go.”
But Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said the injury was bad enough for him to look away when he saw it. Center Travis Swanson said he didn’t want to see it.
“I don’t do gruesome things,” Swanson said. “I try to stay away from them. When I’m flipping through the channels and it’s surgery day on Discovery, I can’t do it.”
Like Chaney, Arkansas fullback Kiero Small said he had never heard of a cleat creating that type of wound. But Small said it made sense after checking out his own cleats before practice. Small didn’t see the injury, but said it didn’t sound good.
“Once I heard what happened, I didn’t think he was coming back,” Small said. “But he came back out there like nothing happened.”
Allen said he had no plans of missing the rest of the game because of what he described as a “decent” gash. He won’t miss the Ole Miss game either and said he was keeping a sense of humor about the gash Tuesday.
The sophomore was asked when the staples are going to be removed and had no idea because he’s “just along for the ride.” Allen said Chaney and teammates have poked fun at him for the protective shin guard he’s wearing as well.
“They made fun of my little shin guard and the things that I had to wear for it,” Allen said. “They told me soccer was the wrong sport.”
Allen and Chaney both hinted at new wrinkles Arkansas is installing for Saturday’s game against Ole Miss.
“We put in a lot of new things on offense,” Allen said. “I’d say for a first day out there we executed pretty well. We did a good job of getting lined up, making plays, just the intensity was there. The fire was there. We’re ready to go get us a win.”
No one went into specifics, of course, as the Razorbacks prepare their gameplan for the Rebels. But Chaney agreed it was a good work day for the offense.
“Well we made it through practice and got some new things in and had some fun with them,” Chaney said. “The kids had a nice practice and a good tempo to them.”
Arkansas didn’t put on an aerial show against Auburn after two weeks of work on the passing game. Allen and three others (A.J. Derby, Brian Buehner and Jonathan Williams) combined to complete 12 of 27 passes for 124 yards.
But Chaney believed the performance was “much improved.”
“Throughout the game everyone played better in every aspect of the passing game,” Chaney said. “I thought we protected a little bit better. I thought the quarterback threw the ball a little bit better and I thought the receivers caught the ball a little bit better. There is not a simple flea to step on and squish and everything works in the passing game. It doesn’t work like that. It takes a lot.”
Arkansas remains last in the SEC and and 117th in the NCAA in passing offense (144.1 yards a game). The Razorbacks also are 114th in the NCAA in efficiency (104.1) and 121st in completion percentage (46.2).
Arkansas nearly had a touchdown on its opening drive when Allen hit receiver Javontee Herndon in the end zone for a 41-yard pass. However, the catch was ruled an incompletion on the field and upheld by a review, which showed Herndon may have not had complete control of the ball as he went to the ground.
Bielema said Monday he believed if the play was ruled a catch on the field it would’ve been upheld by review.
“That just shows you how critical the on-the-field call is,” Bielema said. “I think that one … When it goes to the booth, if it had been the other way, I don’t think it gets flipped, to be quite honest.”
Herndon felt like it was a touchdown, but landed on top of the ball when he hit the ground. The senior said that may have been what the official saw to make the call.
“Watching the replay, I did get a couple of steps down,” Herndon said. “At the end of the day, it’s my duty to come up with the ball and I didn’t do that. So that’s on me.”