Razorbacks report:

Allen not officially ruled out

By: Bob Holt , Tom Murphy
Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen listens on the sideline during a game against Alabama on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen listens on the sideline during a game against Alabama on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Razorbacks Coach Bret Bielema has not ruled out quarterback Austin Allen's availability for Saturday's 6:30 p.m. home game against Auburn.

But he was not overly optimistic on Monday that Allen would be able to play two weeks after suffering a right shoulder injury in the Razorbacks' 48-22 loss at South Carolina.

"If it came to a point where it looked like he could practice Thursday, I think there's merit to [the idea he might play], but where he's at right now, I still say we're a couple of weeks away," Bielema said. "But Austin, I think, is a guy that probably surprises a lot of people, and if he can go and do things then it's a positive for us."

Allen sat out Saturday's 41-9 loss at No. 1 Alabama. Freshman Cole Kelley became the first quarterback without the surname of Allen to start a game for the Razorbacks since A.J. Derby replaced Brandon Allen, also out with a shoulder injury, in a 28-24 loss at Rutgers on Sept. 21, 2013, in Bielema's first loss at Arkansas.

The Rutgers game in 2013 and last week's loss at Alabama are the only games during Bielema's 57-game Arkansas tenure that were not started by either Brandon Allen or Austin Allen.

Injury report

Bret Bielema said he expected offensive lineman Johnny Gibson to be 100 percent at practice unlike last week, when a minor knee injury limited his preparation against Alabama. Gibson made his first start at left tackle against the Crimson Tide on a shuffled offensive line starting unit that is expected to remain the same this week.

"He really surprised a lot of people being able to go back in there," Bielema said.

Tight end Jeremy Patton was held out of Saturday's game with an ankle injury.

"Should be back with us ... limited practice today [Monday], tomorrow [today] and hopefully be back with us full go by Saturday," Bielema said.

On the Plains

Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads held the same position at Auburn in 2008 when Camden's Tommy Tuberville was in his last of 10 seasons as the Tigers' coach.

"We loved our time on the Plains," Rhoads said. "Great people. Absolutely football crazy when it comes to the fanaticism that follows that program. It was at the end of Tommy's reign and Tommy had a great run. It was a sad way to see him go out because he's such a good person, such a good football coach.

Tuberville led Auburn to an 85-40 record, including 13-0 in 2004, but he was fired after the team went 5-7 in 2008.

Rhoads became Iowa State's head coach in 2009.

Kelley carped

Freshman quarterback Cole Kelley isn't shy about expressing himself.

But Bret Bielema had to run in and intervene when Kelley rushed to argue with an official on the final play of the first half after Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison appeared to impede tight Cheyenne O'Grady's cut to the inside with his hands.

"I was afraid Cole was going to get something," Bielema said. "Cole is very large, and the official he was talking to is not very, shall we say, tall in nature. So he was bending down over talking to him."

Offensive coordinator Dan Enos said Kelley's actions are reflective of the freshman's competitive mindset.

"Every play's important, every play counts," Enos said. "He felt like he had a good route structure with a guy coming underneath on an inside-breaking route and had good leverage and a guy got grabbed and held. I guess he wanted to voice his opinion.

"Coach Bielema I'm sure tells him he's the only one allowed to talk to the officials. ... But I'll tell you this, you love the feistiness and you love the competitiveness. I'd rather have it that way than the other, if you know what I mean. If you're trying to light a fire under somebody to get them to go out and compete, I'd much rather have this way.

Got $10,000?

Coach Bret Bielema was asked if he thought interference should have been called against Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison, who was defending Arkansas tight end Cheyenne O'Grady on an incomplete pass on the final play of the first half.

"You got $10,000 you want to pay?" Bielema said, referring to an SEC fine for publicly criticizing officials. "That is a good crew."

Tube talk

The Razorbacks' road game at Ole Miss on Oct. 28 has been selected for an 11 a.m. kickoff to be telecast on the SEC Network.

Arkansas will be playing its third 11 a.m. game, following its 50-43 loss in overtime against Texas A&M and its 42-24 victory over New Mexico State on the following week.

The Georgia-Florida game will be the CBS SEC game of the week at 2:30 p.m.

'Plus' Martin

Sophomore Brandon Martin, rated the nation's top junior college receiver last season, made an impact against Alabama with four catches for 34 yards after being slowed by back and hamstring injuries in training camp and missing three of the first five games.

"He had a good week of practice and showed us if we put him out there he can make plays," offensive coordinator Dan Enos said. "What he did Saturday was make catches, which is going to be more plays for him. He is going to be a huge plus for us."

'Overmatched'

Offensive coordinator Dan Enos was asked for his thoughts on how Arkansas' newly configured offensive line played in Alabama.

"I think they were overmatched," Enos said. "I don't think it had anything to do with the changes, but just the front we played.

"Those guys in Alabama uniforms, I thought played very well and more physical than we did. I thought they won the battle up front clearly."

The Razorbacks ran for 27 yards, including 36 lost yards on 5 sacks, and had 227 total yards against the Crimson Tide.

The revamped offensive front of Johnny Gibson, Hjalte Froholdt, Zach Rogers, Frank Ragnow and Brian Wallace is expected to stay in place for Saturday's game against Auburn.

Stidham stunted

Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham had completed 72 of 91 passes for 1,081 yards, with 5 touchdowns and 1 interception in the 4 games leading up to Saturday's 27-23 loss to LSU.

Stidham struggled at LSU, completing 6 of 26 passes for 165 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown to former Pulaski Academy standout Will Hastings.

Asked what happened at LSU, Stidham replied, "Just little things here and there. We just didn't execute the plays how we should have and it cost us.

"Like I said, it's part of playing football, but it's behind us. We're past that. We're looking to beat Arkansas this week."

Full circle

Alabama tailback Damien Harris turned a stretch play into a 75-yard cutback touchdown on the first offensive snap against Arkansas last week. The last time an opponent scored on its first play against the Razorbacks came when Eli Stove sprinted around left end on a jet sweep for a 78-yard touchdown last Oct. 22 at Auburn. The Razorbacks host Auburn on Saturday.

"Horrible start," Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads said of the Harris run. "Nobody scripts that one, to start in that fashion."

Sports on 10/17/2017

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