GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It wasn’t the way Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen wanted to perform in his first start on the road.
His white uniform was covered in grass stains by halftime. He was harassed, battered and bruised in a 30-10 loss to No. 18 Florida. Allen finished 17-of-41 for 164 yards with an interception. That’s a 70.2 quarterback rating, well below his season rating coming into the game of 149.6.
Allen also lost a fumble in the first quarter on a blindside hit.
“Just too many issues, too many dropped balls,” Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said. “B.A. battled his tail off. He came back after getting hit pretty hard. We were breaking down in our protections. A couple of guys we turned loose got some blindside shots. We have to get that corrected.”
Allen started slow and never recovered. He was 2-of-5 passing for 39 yards in the first quarter. But 31 of those yards came on a completion to Hunter Henry. But thanks to 81 rushing yards on 11 carries in the quarter, Jonathan Williams was able to punch in a touchdown late in the opening quarter for a 7-0 lead.
After Florida made it 7-3 early in the second quarter, Arkansas took over at its own 25. Five plays into the drive, Allen scrambled right and tried to find Keon Hatcher with a sidearm throw on third-and-5 at the Razorbacks’ 41. Instead, he hit Florida’s Loucheiz Purifoy between the numbers for a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown and a 10-7 lead for the Gators.
The sophomore from Fayetteville didn’t shy from accepting blame for the loss.
“I missed a lot of throws, obviously that pick 6 is one of those things I could have done better,” Allen said. “I’m not proud of my performance at all. I didn’t think I did what it took to win this game.”
It’s the second consecutive game Allen has thrown a TD for the opposing team. Both came when the game was close and flipped the momentum against Arkansas. The previous week Allen threw a pick 6 against Texas A&M. The Aggies led 24-20 opening the second half, the interception return made it 31-20 and A&M won 45-33.
Early in the fourth quarter, Allen was hit hard by Dante Fowler Jr. after he threw an incompletion. Allen left the game for the rest of the series as trainers worked on what he said was a “jammed” finger. The hit drew a roughing the passer penalty, one of two committed by the Gators.
Allen returned on the next series, but threw seven consecutive incompletions. He didn’t complete another pass until the late in the game, when the outcome was decided.
Allen said the Florida defense, which has now held 12 consecutive SEC opponents to less than 20 points, lived up to its reputation as the best in the nation.
“Their defense is No. 1 for a reason. They’ve got a lot of speed. They’ve got a lot of different schemes and coverages.”