RAZORBACKS REPORT: Allen a go if effective, Bielema says

By: Bob Holt , Tom Murphy
Published: Friday, October 13, 2017
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen (8) attempts to escape pressure from South Carolina defensive lineman Dante Sawyer, left, during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen (8) attempts to escape pressure from South Carolina defensive lineman Dante Sawyer, left, during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema suggested Thursday senior quarterback Austin Allen would be ready to play in Saturday's 6:15 p.m. game at No. 1 Alabama.

"My guess is he'll give it a go and we'll work our way through that first half and see where we're at," Bielema said on his weekly On the Air with Bret Bielema radio show. "He's earned so much and to play in this game is a big deal for him. We'll continue to move and see where he's at on game day."

Allen injured his right shoulder in the first half of the Razorbacks' 48-22 loss at South Carolina last week. He played through the soreness and eventually came out of the game in the third quarter.

Allen called himself a "quick healer" and projected he'd be ready to play by game day.

"I think the biggest thing we have to [consider] is, yes, he might be cleared to play, but how effective?" Bielema said. "This isn't like you're playing some of the other teams on our schedule. This is a team obviously where you need to be fully functional and see where it's at."

Bielema touted 6-7 quarterback Cole Kelley's strengths in case the freshman gets the call.

"If you've seen him, he's got a knack," Bielema said. "He looks like he's in slo-mo, but he covers a lot of room in a short amount of time."

Bielema likes Kelley's approach to the game.

"The one thing that Cole Kelley does not lack is confidence. He probably thinks he can play Bama on Saturday and the Patriots on Sunday. That's just the way he's kind of wired."

Capitalizing

Alabama has the ability to cash in on mistakes as well as anybody in the country, Bret Bielema said.

"I will say this about Alabama, I've been doing this a long time and one of the things I think separates them from their opponent is they capitalize off your miscues better than any program I've ever seen," Bielema said on his radio show.

"Last year we were going swing for swing with them and there was a play where Austin [Allen] stepped up in the pocket, tried to convert a short pass. Guy hits him from behind, the ball flies into the defensive lineman and he's gone the other way for seven."

Alabama linebacker Tim Williams returned the fumble 23 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter to give the Tide a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter.

Red zone work

Arkansas has scored a touchdown on each of its last six trips inside its opponents' 20-yard line over the last two games.

The Razorbacks are ninth in the SEC and tied for No. 64 nationally with an 85 percent scoring rate inside their opponents' 20-yard line. Arkansas' only non-conversions out of 20 red-zone drives were two missed short field goals against TCU and an interception in the end zone on the final play against Texas A&M.

The Hogs' touchdown percentage in the red zone -- also 85 percent -- is tied with Clemson for No. 5 in the country, behind No. 1 Louisiana-Lafayette, which has scored touchdowns on 22 of 24 (91.7 percent) red-zone appearances.

Bama called

Bret Bielema wasn't specific about when or who, but he said on his radio show that before he became a head coach at Wisconsin he was contacted by an Alabama head coach about a defensive coordinator's position with the Crimson Tide.

Bielema, a former defensive coordinator at Kansas State and Wisconsin, said it was "several coaches ago" for Alabama.

"It's a moment where you're like, 'Oh, that's kind of cool. That's Alabama,' " Bielema said. "But on the same account, it's just about the perception of it.

"The reality of it is, it's like every other job. You've just got to make it great."

Scoring D

Arkansas is No. 97 in scoring defense, allowing 31.4 points per game, but that number can be deceiving.

The number is impacted heavily by touchdowns given up by the Arkansas offense and special teams as well as some short-field scores. Last week, South Carolina scored three defensive touchdowns against the Razorbacks, and Texas A&M's Christian Kirk had a 100-yard kickoff return in the Aggies' 50-43 overtime victory.

Additionally, South Carolina kicked a field goal after recovering a fumble at the Arkansas 15 and TCU cashed in a late touchdown after recovering a fumbled kickoff at the Hogs' 13.

Take away those 38 points and the Razorbacks would be allowing an average of 23.8 points per game, a figure that would tie them for No. 50 in the country.

Legendary Hampton

Former All-America defensive lineman Dan Hampton will represent Arkansas in the 2017 SEC Football Legends class, the SEC office has announced.

Hampton, an inductee in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002, is a member of Arkansas' All-Century team selected in 1994 and the NFL's All-Decade team of the 1980s when he was a standout for the Chicago Bears, winners of the 1985 Super Bowl.

Hampton, a native of Jacksonville, will be one of 14 former football stars from SEC schools honored at the SEC football "Weekend of Champions" on Dec. 1-2 in Atlanta.

Hampton, who played two seasons under Frank Broyles in 1975-76 and two seasons under Lou Holtz (1977-78) had 239 tackles, 126 solo tackles and 6 fumble recoveries. He was named a first-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association in 1978 and was a standout on the 1977 team, which finished No. 3 after upsetting Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.

Dabo in the house

In addition to Alabama's game against Arkansas being homecoming on the Tuscaloosa campus, the Crimson Tide's 1992 national championship team will be honored at halftime.

This is the 25th anniversary of Alabama's 1992 national title.

Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney, a walk-on wide receiver on Alabama's 1992 team, will be among the former players returning for the ceremony, according to multiple media reports.

Swinney, whose Tigers beat Alabama 35-31 in last season's College Football Playoff championship game, will be able to travel to the game because No. 2 Clemson plays at Syracuse tonight.

Alabama's 1992 team went 13-0 -- including a 38-11 victory over Arkansas in Little Rock in the Razorbacks' first SEC home game -- and beat No. 1 Miami in the Sugar Bowl.

Frazier update

Josh Frazier, a senior from Springdale Har-Ber, is Alabama's second-team nose guard. He has 5 tackles, 2 pass breakups and 1 forced fumble.

"I think Josh is playing the best football he's played since he's been here," Tide Coach Nick Saban said. "I think he's in better shape."

Saban said Frazier should have a big role against Arkansas.

"Josh is really a run-stopping nose guard type guy for us who plays a lot more when we play against regular teams, which these guys are in regular a lot, which means we play regular," Saban said. "We don't play him a lot in pass rush situations.

"When he's gone in there he's done a good job for us. He's someone you can count on to do exactly what you expect to get from him. He's done a good job from that standpoint."

Frazier has played in 32 games, all off the bench, and has 19 career tackles with 2 sacks.

Lots of coaching

Offensive lineman Brian Wallace's inability to regain his starting job at right tackle this season isn't for a lack of individual coaching.

"We have spent more time coaching Brian Wallace than anybody in our program, and I think he's going to take advantage of it," Bret Bielema said. "He's got a great attitude, a great mentality."

Wallace started the final 10 games of 2016, but has played little this season with Johnny Gibson starting the first four games at right tackle and Paul Ramirez starting last week when Gibson moved to right guard for Ty Clary.

Facing No. 1

The Razorbacks will play the No. 1 team on Saturday for the fourth time in five seasons under Coach Bret Bielema.

The Hogs are 0-3 in the previous games, falling 52-0 at No. 1 Alabama in 2013, 17-10 at No. 1 Mississippi State in 2014, and 49-30 against No. 1 Alabama in 2016.

Bielema is 1-4 as a head coach against the top-ranked team in the country.

He went 1-1 against No. 1 teams at Wisconsin, with both games coming against Ohio State. The Badgers lost 38-17 to the Buckeyes on Nov. 3, 2007, and beat them 31-18 on Oct. 16, 2010.

Nance TDs

Arkansas junior receiver Jonathan Nance has five touchdown catches to tie Texas A&M's Christian Kirk and Georgia's Terry Godwin for the SEC lead despite playing one fewer game.

Nance has played in five games while Kirk and Goodwin have played in six.

On the call

ESPN's top crew of play-by-play announcer Chris Fowler, color analyst Kirk Herbstreit and sideline reporter Maria Taylor will call the Arkansas-Alabama game.

It's the crew which often calls the primetime game on ABC.

Sports on 10/13/2017

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