HOOVER, Ala. — Arkansas Razorbacks senior Austin Allen is a popular choice among those who enjoy the “best quarterback in the SEC” debate. He led the league in passing yardage and was second in passing touchdowns last season.
But Allen displayed many flaws last season — especially in the second half of games. Throughout the 2016 season, he completed 65.9 percent of his passes for 2,013 yards, 16 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions in the first half of games.
But in the second half and overtime, Allen’s completion percentage dropped to 55.8 and he threw 9 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. That contrast was prominently on display in Arkansas’ consecutive second-half meltdowns to end the season.
The Hogs led Missouri 24-7 at halftime and lost 28-24. Then in the Belk Bowl against Virginia Tech, Arkansas led 24-0 and lost 35-24.
Allen looked like a future NFL quarterback in the first half of those games but threw a combined 5 interceptions after halftime in them.
Asked Monday about the focus on finishing strong in 2017, Allen said, “That has been our M.O. since after the Virginia Tech game and going into winter conditioning. We might think we are done, but then we run another four or five sprints and things like that.
“We are putting in a lot of extra film work, especially in the summer when it is a lot of player-led stuff.
“Going back and watching the second half of the Missouri game and the Tech game, it just steams me and really has driven us this offseason.”
He admitted that one of his biggest problems last season was a tendency to try to do too much rather than accepting that he needed to throw the ball away sometimes.
“A few times last year, I felt like I had to make a play to get us back on track,” Allen said. “I thought I had to get out of my comfort zone and it didn’t always work out. Punting isn’t always the worst thing. This year if I get 4 yards on a third-and-6, I know that it is playing field position and flipping the field. Knowing the scenario of the game and the down and distance will really help me out by playing smarter and staying in the flow of the game better.”