Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas-Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Road struggles continue for first-time QBs
Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen takes a snap Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. The Razorbacks lost 30-10 to No. 18 Florida.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen struggled in his first career road start Saturday night.
The redshirt sophomore completed just 17 of 41 passes for 164 yards and had an interception returned for a touchdown in the Razorbacks' 30-10 loss at Florida.
It was a disappointing encore to a promising performance for Allen against Texas A&M the week before. In that game, he returned from a shoulder injury to pass for 282 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also had an interception returned for a touchdown.
But Allen isn't alone in his first-game struggles on the road. In fact, Arkansas has broken in a first-time starter in its two road games this season, both losses. In those games, the Razorbacks have combined to complete just 31 of 67 passes for 241 yards and 1 touchdown.
In addition to AJ Derby, Arkansas also had a passing touchdown from running back Jonathan Williams at Rutgers.
Here is a look at how the Razorbacks' recent starting quarterbacks have fared in their first career road start:
Brandon Allen, 17 of 41, 164 yards, 1 INT at Florida 2013 - Arkansas lost 30-10
AJ Derby, 14 of 26, 137 yards, 1 TD at Rutgers 2013 - Arkansas lost 28-24
Tyler Wilson, 22 of 35, 185 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT at Alabama 2011 - Arkansas lost 38-14
Ryan Mallett, 12 of 35, 160 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT at Alabama 2009 - Arkansas lost 35-7
Mitch Mustain, 13 of 20, 224 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT at Vanderbilt 2006 - Arkansas won 21-19
Casey Dick, 17 of 24, 175 yards, 3 TDs at Ole Miss 2005 - Arkansas won 28-17
Robert Johnson, 8 of 16, 91 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT at USC 2005 - Arkansas lost 70-17
As you see, most starting quarterbacks haven't fared well in their first career road start at Arkansas, and the numbers are likely similar at most schools. Mustain was the last quarterback to win his first road start for the Razorbacks and Barry Lunney Jr. (Tennessee, 1992) was the last to win his first road start against a ranked team.
The Razorbacks have had some of college football's best teams in the game's toughest environments for young signal callers to get their feet wet. Alabama had the nation's best scoring defense in their national title years 2009 and 2011, and USC had a solid group en route to a national runner-up finish in 2005.
Florida currently ranks second nationally in total defense and fourth in scoring defense. The Gators do have a loss this season, but are undefeated in three SEC games. With a defense like that, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Florida playing in the SEC Championship Game in December.
As is customary, the quarterback shouldered plenty of the blame Saturday, but the Razorbacks struggled in nearly every facet of the game. One of Bret Bielema's biggest obstacles will be to get his team to perform away from home.
Arkansas hasn't been a very good road team in recent memory. The Razorbacks have only been above .500 on the road three times since joining the Southeastern Conference.