Bielema optimistic Austin Allen will play Saturday

By: Jimmy Carter
Published: Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen (8) throws a pass during a game against South Carolina on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Columbia, S.C.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen (8) throws a pass during a game against South Carolina on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Columbia, S.C.

— Bret Bielema is optimistic Austin Allen will play Saturday against No. 1 Alabama, but the senior quarterback still has work to do in order to be on the field.

Allen injured his throwing shoulder in the third series of Arkansas’ 48-22 loss at South Carolina last week, but played through the third quarter before the training staff made the decision to hold him out of the remainder of the game. A Sunday MRI on the shoulder came back negative, but he has been limited in practice this week.

“Not quite there yet,” Bielema said. “I think a lot depends on how he recovers tonight and looks tomorrow.”

He later answered “I am,” when asked if he was confident Allen would play. Allen said Tuesday he’d done some throwing before practice began and Bielema said he participated “a little bit” Wednesday.

Allen changed his throwing motion as a result of the injury Saturday, lowering his release point with more of a sidearm motion. He finished 12 of 24 for a career-low 84 yards with one touchdown and an interception that was returned for a score. He also lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown when he was stripped from behind in the pocket, another of the three Gamecock defensive scores.

Protecting Allen has been an issue all season, like it was last year. Arkansas ranks eighth in the SEC and 85th nationally, allowing 2.6 sacks per game, while Allen has also absorbed numerous other hits.

Bielema said the same starting line will likely stay in place against Alabama. Senior Paul Ramirez made his first career start at right tackle against South Carolina, allowing Johnny Gibson to slide to guard in place of freshman Ty Clary.

“We know we’ve got to protect Austin a little better,” Bielema said. “I think the run game has to obviously help us out in that regard and then whoever’s called on to protect him can be that way.”

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