Arkansas marched down the field for an 89-yard scoring drive over 12 plays with the end result being a five-yard scamper into the end zone by Razorbacks sophomore quarterback Brandon Allen to give the Hogs a 7-0 lead.
However, as Allen dove into the end zone and rolled on his right shoulder and his head hit the turf at Razorback stadium, he then proceeded to go get checked out in the locker room with 3:52 remaining in the first quarter. The Arkansas training staff did not say whether he would return to the game vs. Southern Miss, but at halftime Bret Bielema said he didn’t think he’d be back.
With Allen out, transfer quarterback A.J. Derby would command the Arkansas offense. Derby originally signed with Iowa out of Iowa City as a four-star recruit. He later was moved to linebacker and after serving a two-game suspension for fourth-degree criminal mischief and public intoxication which led to him asking for a release from his scholarship.
He would transfer to Coffeyville Community College where he threw 22 touchdowns and 1,936 yards. He is 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, so he has the size you look for in a pocket passes, but his lack of experience would hurt depending on the severity of the injury to Allen.
Bielema can mask the drop off in trust and production at quarterback with an even heavier emphasis on the running game which has been the strong point of the Razorbacks team in Bielema’s first season.
With Allen sidelined for in undetermined amount of time, will rely on the strong Arkansas running game led by freshman phenom Alex Collins and sophomore Jonathan Williams. Collins leads the conference in rushing yards with 303 entering Saturday’s game and Williams isn’t too far behind with 277 which is good for third. The offense will be a bit more one-dimensional and lose the threat of the pass in the interim, but I trust Bielema to weather the storm.
Arkansas travels to Rutgers next Saturday before hosting Texas A&Min two weeks. The Hogs can beat Rutgers without Allen, but if Arkansas is going to accelerate the rebuilding project in Fayetteville this year and make it to a bowl game, they need Allen back for the conference game at least. If he’s out beyond a week the onus will be on Derby to live up to his potential which he has yet to realize.
Allen has completed 24-of-39 passes for 355 yards and five touchdowns in his first two starts this season without an interception. Before leaving with injury, Allen completed two of his five passes for 33 yards and his first interception of the season.