Confident, Healthy Allen Emerges From Spring Practice Quarterbacks are expected to be everything to everybody. They have to be talented physically, sharp mentally and possess superb leadership skills. Other qualities that are important to winning quarterbacks are the willingness to work harder and shoulder much more responsibility than the rest of the roster. An old saying is quarterbacks get way too much credit when you win and way too much blame when you lose.
That certainly was the case last year as Brandon Allen’s first season as the starter in head coach Bret Bielema’s first season in Fayetteville did not go as well as many had hoped. Allen led the Razorbacks to a fine start with a 3-0 record but he injured his throwing shoulder diving into the end zone on a five-yard touchdown run in the first quarter of Arkansas’ 24-3 win against Southern Miss and was originally expected to be sidelined for up to six weeks. However, after missing the next game at Rutgers, the Fayetteville, Ark., native returned to his place under center to start the SEC opener at home against No. 10 Texas A&M. Allen authored his best statistical display of the season that night against the Aggies, finishing the game with 282 yards and three touchdowns through the air. However, due to his injury, he was extremely limited in practice the rest of the season and his numbers were impacted.
“You’re going to get a lot of criticism at the quarterback position,” Allen said. “All it can do is fuel you. I’ve had it before and really it’s just motivating for everyone. You can ask anyone who has been criticized; I think they use it as motivation.”
Coach Bielema understands the outside pressure on starting quarterbacks, especially in the SEC, and makes it a point to share the confidence in Allen throughout the program.
“The quarterback tends to play up to the level that he believes the coaches have confidence in,” Coach Bielema said. “I think BA and everyone on the offense will tell you that we believe in him and have a lot of faith in him. He doesn’t make a throw with a question in the back of his head that if I don’t make this 3rd-and-8 throw here I will be replaced or taken out of the game, and that goes a long way for a quarterback. We have 100-percent confidence in him. When he’s in the huddle his teammates have a lot of confidence in him.”
In addition to being healthy enough to take all of the starter reps during spring practice, Allen is more comfortable with his knowledge of the offense and that has led to increased leadership and more confidence across the board.
“I think I’ve stepped up as a leader,” Allen said. “I think the offense slowed down for me a lot. I learned a lot of other new things throughout spring. I think as a whole offense we made huge strides. When we have everyone working together and everyone doing everything right every single play we’re tough to stop. I think this summer we need to work on getting everything right. I think we’re a tough offense when we’re clicking and when we have all 11 guys on the field doing what they’re supposed to do. I think for us to be successful you have to have that."
Football, more than any other sport, is truly a team game. Quarterbacks get most of the attention as leaders of the offense and one of just two players to touch the ball on every play, but one breakdown among any of the 11 on the field can lead to a busted play.
“One of the things that I was excited about this spring was to not only have a healthy Brandon Allen but better players around him,” Coach Bielema said. “His biggest setback in the fall was his injury, and he wasn’t able to progress and get better during the course of the season as much as you like just because he couldn’t practice. I thought our guys really grew in the spring and capitalized on the 15 practices. I’m excited and the team is excited because we know we are a better team than we were a year ago.”
Allen leads the Razorbacks into summer workouts with a healthy throwing arm, more confidence in the offense and teammates who have developed along with him in Coach Bielema’s program. Arkansas opens its 2014 season Aug. 30 at Auburn on the SEC Network.
@RazorbackSB Hosts No. 7/5 in Front of National Audience on ESPN Games two and three of this weekend’s SEC series between Arkansas and Florida will be televised on ESPN with Adam Amin and Amanda Scarborough–both in attendance for Friday’s opener–handling the play-by-play and color commentary duties, respectively. Saturday’s game is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. (CT) start at Bogle Park and will be Senior Day for Ashley Martindale. The first 250 fans in attendance Saturday receive a FREE Razorback tank top.
#Fayetteville is beautiful this time of year. Scouting @RazorbackSB & @GatorZoneSBall w/@ascarborough. http://t.co/KeiB28hz5j #RoadtoWCWS
– Adam Amin (@adamamin) May 3, 2014
Too ambiguous? Know exactly what coverage we’re missing? Have a general question for the athletic department? Tell us. Shout firstname.lastname@example.org suggestions of what you would like to see covered and what the column is missing. Interaction is good. Think of this as your portal to all things Arkansas.