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.
Interception adds to rough week
Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen (10) signals as he walks up to the line during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Auburn on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
AUBURN, Ala. -- It was a week of fire and rain for Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen.
After seeing his truck burning early Monday morning, Allen ended his week by trying to rally the Razorbacks in the rain -- and after some lightning -- against No. 6 Auburn on Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Allen didn't make any excuses after Auburn pulled away in the second half to beat the Razorbacks 45-21.
Allen said having his truck burned in an incident still under investigation by Fayetteville police didn't impact his preparation or performance.
"We always talk about distractions, and we can't let distractions take away from what we're trying to get done," Allen said of the fire. "It didn't affect me. I don't think it affected the team.
"We were able to get what we needed to get done. We just didn't get it translated onto the field."
Allen completed 18 of 31 passes for 175 yards and 2 touchdowns -- on throws to tight ends Hunter Henry and AJ Derby in the first half to help pull the Razorbacks into a 21-21 tie -- but his third-quarter interception turned into the game's decisive play.
Allen was hit as he was throwing by linebacker Robenson Therezie, and the wobbly ball was intercepted by safety Jermaine Whitehead and returned 33 yards for a touchdown that gave Auburn a 35-21 lead with 2:39 left in the third quarter.
"That was a costly mistake on my part," Allen said. "Momentum shifts like that are huge in a ballgame like this. As soon as I threw it, I felt myself not get anything on it."
Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema called it "a big, big, big momentum swing" in Auburn's favor.
"That's a huge swing not only in the points, but it just really hits you in the stomach and takes a lot of energy out of the sideline," Bielema said.
Bielema said he believed Allen played well overall.
"I thought he really played a pretty clean game," Bielema said. "He was on his reads and on his routes."
Bielema said he Allen reacted well after his truck was burned.
"His overall preparation this week, there wasn't any noticeable difference in anything," Bielema said. "I think the guys believed in him. I think it's a positive step in the right direction for him."
Allen's interception was Arkansas' only turnover.
"We did a lot of good things," Allen said. "I don't think we shot ourselves in the foot as much as we did last year. I think this team is only going to get better from here."
Allen said it was tough to feel good about his play considering the Razorbacks lost their 13th consecutive SEC game.
"It really comes down to winning and losing, and we didn't get the win, which is tough," he said. "I really base my performance on that.
"Obviously, there are a lot of corrections I need to get done. There are a lot of mistakes I made out there. You go and watch the film and you correct your mistakes and get going from there."
Allen had some passes that were dropped, most notably a deep throw to Keon Hatcher in the first half that would have gone for a big gain.
"I really didn't even see it," Allen said. "When I threw it, I thought it was going to be all right. Those things happen. It's part of the game. You can't expect every receiver to make every play for you.
"He told me not to lose confidence in him, and I never do."
Allen said the receivers played well.
"I thought there were a couple of passes I could have made that would have made the catches a lot easier," he said. "I thought they made some good catches for me.
"Then in the second half it started pouring on us, and it's tough to catch it in the rain like that. Everything gets slick and hard to handle."
Allen woke up about 3:30 a.m. Monday to see his truck on fire on the street in front of his house.
"It's not a great feeling," Allen said. "It is what it is now. It's in the past. I'm not worried about it anymore. It's not bothering me at all.
"I've got a sweet rental car, so we're good."
Sports on 08/31/2014