Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Hogs QB shows his resiliency
Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen runs drills during practice on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014 at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Brandon Allen's coaches and teammates said the Arkansas quarterback seemed focused and sharp in Tuesday's practice, the day after his truck was set afire at his off-campus house and four days before the Razorbacks open the season at No. 6 Auburn.
"He acted like nothing ever happened," running back Jonathan Williams said. "I was talking to him a couple weeks ago and I was telling him, you know, it has to be kind of hard dealing with some of the stuff that he's dealt with. He just shrugged it off and said it doesn't bother him.
"I mean, it genuinely doesn't bother him."
Offensive tackle Brey Cook said Allen showed plenty of leadership Tuesday.
" We struggled in some areas, and he was able to step up and pull us along," Cook said. "I felt like that [vehicle fire] was the least of his worries out there on the field, which is right where we want him."
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney described Allen's practice as a good one.
"I think he's ready to go play a football game," Chaney said. "He showed a lot of toughness through all this. He didn't have a good year, we all know that, but he's ready to play.
"I don't see any ramifications outside of football that affected him today."
How many times?
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, asked about being able to move the ball on Auburn last year but not cashing in on drives, replied by saying "I only watched that game 150,000 times.
"I realize in the first half alone we dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone," he said. "We had another play where if we had not had a [missed assignment] might have resulted in a touchdown, another one that might have resulted in a touchdown in the first half.
"I believe we had two turnovers in the first half and a goal-line stop against them and we were down 14-3 at halftime. So yeah, I get it. I get all all that stuff, but if you don't execute enough to be successful, you lose games."
Ellis on Hogs
Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said the most significant problem his unit faced in last year's 35-17 victory at Arkansas was adjusting to "unorthodox" formations from the Hogs.
"We got misaligned and misadjusted and missed some tackles," Johnson said. "We went in at halftime, I don't think they had but three points, but you didn't feel comfortable about the way you were playing."
Arkansas rushed for 222 yards on 47 carries against the Tigers and trailed in total offense 366-346.
Tight end A.J. Derby has returned to practices after missing considerable time with a knee injury and the former quarterback should take snaps at Auburn.
"He's game-ready," tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. said. "He's a little bit rusty from being off for a little bit, but we're excited about him getting back. And what he was doing in the spring, he's almost there, so I look for him to play quite a bit for us on Saturday."
8-0 to start
Bret Bielema has an 8-0 record in season-opening games, including a 34-14 rout of Louisiana-Lafayette in his Arkansas debut last fall. Bielema's teams have won their openers by an average margin of 18.8 points.
"I really can't recite my record," Bielema said. "Someone probably told me that and I read it before I came in here a year ago. I guess because it's the opener you always remember those and, you know, I just don't ever remember losing one."
Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said he isn't sure what to expect from Arkansas' defense and new coordinator Robb Smith.
"The first game of the year, especially when your opponent has a new coordinator, that's always hard," Lashlee said. "You have an idea of what you think people will do, but you really don't know.
"I think that's why Coach [Gus Malzahn] has said with adjustments to keep it simple the first game. ... Whether it's first game or middle of the year, he's always been good with adjustments because when you run a system you're very familiar with ... you know your system inside and out and know how to make quick adjustments here or there inside a game."
Up and down
Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith will work games from the sidelines.
Razorbacks coaches in the press box will be offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, defensive backs coach Clay Jennings, tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr., and linebackers coach Randy Shannon.
Joining Smith and Coach Bret Bielema on the sidelines are line coaches Sam Pittman and Rory Segrest, receivers coach Michael Smith and running backs coach Joel Thomas.
m Arkansas will open its 121st season of football with a record of 684-468-40 and a .594 winning percentage.
m Arkansas is the only team in the country to play seven conference games against teams ranked in The Associated Press' preseason poll.
m The SEC Network crew assigned to the game is Brent Musberger, Jesse Palmer and Maria Taylor.
Sports on 08/27/2014