SPRINGDALE — Lou Holtz had to go without a tie while at a speaking engagement for the first time Monday.
The former Arkansas coach and current ESPN personality was also forced to sport white tennis shoes with his sports coat and slacks for his appearance as a guest speaker at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club in Springdale thanks to an airline mishap.
1. Allen Update
Quarterback Brandon Allen isn’t listed on Arkansas’ depth chart for its Southeastern Conference opener against Texas A&M on Saturday. But Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said he’s not ruling Allen out as he rehabilitates his injured shoulder.
Five Keys Review
1. Rally Around Derby — Not Accomplished
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The first three games of the Bret Bielema era at Arkansas were highlighted by dominant displays in the fourth quarter.
The Razorbacks protected leads by leaning on their offensive line, stringing together long drives that chewed up the clock and wiped out an opponent’s upset hopes.
PISCATAWAY N.J. — For three quarters, the Arkansas defense played well enough to give the Razorbacks a win against Rutgers.
But Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova reminded the Razorbacks it’s a four-quarter game as he rallied the Scarlet Knights from a 17-point deficit for a 28-24 win.
Sam Irwin-Hill, an ambidextrous rugby-style kicker, rolled to his right on fourth down late in the first period then tossed a rainbow pass to the deep snapper — yes, the deep snapper — for a first down. How did it happen? The Razorbacks lined up in an unbalanced line to the left with nobody to the right of Alan D’Apollonio except for a couple of flankers off the line of scrimmage. D’Apollonio was wearing a No. 82 jersey rather than his normal 53, which made him an eligible receiver. The play gained 24 yards to the Rutgers 27 and the drive resulted in Zach Hocker’s 41-yard field goal with 1:51 to go in the quarter, putting Arkansas ahead 3-0.
GARY NOVA: The Rutgers junior quarterback was a thorn in Arkansas’ side for the second straight year. Nova was 22-of-43 for 346 yards with three touchdowns, one interception and two fumbles lost on Saturday. Nova passed 4 yards to Leonte Carroo for the winning score with 5:18 left to play.
JANARION GRANT: A true freshman from Tilby, Fla., Grant showed Arkansas his elusiveness and speed in two big punt returns for Rutgers. His 58-yard return in the third quarter was good for a touchdown and put Rutgers within 10. His 47-yard return in the fourth quarter set up the go-ahead touchdown.
101 — Total number of rushing yards for Arkansas.
1 — Number of touchdowns Arkansas scored from the Red Zone and the number of times Arkansas had a drive inside the Red Zone.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas and Rutgers lit up the scoreboard in Razorback Stadium last season, combining for 816 passing yards and eight touchdowns – all through the air — in the Scarlet Knight’s 35-26 win.
But plenty has changed in both programs since that late September shootout.
GIMME FIVE — KEYS TO TODAY’S GAME
1. Rally Around QB
1. Bielema On Allen
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said quarterback Brandon Allen remains a “game-time decision” Saturday, but still hasn’t received “100 percent assurance” from team doctors that the sophomore is ready to play after last week’s shoulder injury.
FAYETTEVILLE — There’s one play from the Southern Miss game Arkansas senior Chris Smith remembered to illustrate his point Wednesday.
The defensive end said he made a move to the inside, trying to slip into Southern Miss’ backfield. Defensive tackle Byran Jones, who was lined up next two Smith on the interior, noticed and reacted by cutting outside.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas receiver Javontee Herndon said it doesn’t matter whether quarterback Brandon Allen or backup AJ Derby plays at Rutgers.
It won’t change his responsibilities in the Arkansas offense.
1. Allen Will Travel To Rutgers
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said quarterback Brandon Allen did not practice Tuesday because of his injured shoulder, but the sophomore will be with the team when the Razorbacks travel to Rutgers later this week.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ support for backup quarterback AJ Derby has been evident since he replaced injured starter Brandon Allen last Saturday.
One of the best examples was its explanation for Derby’s struggles handling shotgun snaps in the 24-3 win against Southern Miss.
1. Big-Play Back
Arkansas freshman Alex Collins may lead the Razorbacks in rushing with 418 yards, but teammate Jonathan Williams has accounted for the majority of the team’s big plays through three games.
1. Allen Update
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema didn’t provide many details on the status of starting quarterback Brandon Allen for Saturday’s game at Rutgers.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema took a scouting trip to Rutgers with his support staff over the summer, ironing out some of the logistics in preparation for his first road game with the Razorbacks.
Now Bielema wants to make sure his team is equally prepared this week.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas running back Alex Collins and defensive end Chris Smith were recognized by the Southeastern Conference for their performances in the Razorbacks’ 24-3 win against Southern Miss last Saturday.
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 3 sacks.