FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — It’s no secret around the Arkansas program how much of a beating quarterback Austin Allen has taken this season.
The team’s pass protection has been, for the most part, abysmal through six games. Allen has been sacked 13 times this season, and Arkansas ranks 78th nationally with 2.33 sacks allowed per game.
Through all the struggles in pass protection, Allen has collected himself off the turf many times and shown an ability to remain consistently impressive in the face of pressure.
Last week against Alabama, he was sacked 7 times, yet he still threw for 400 yards and 3 touchdowns. His 3 interceptions against the Crimson Tide largely can be credited to bad protection and/or needing to make a big play with the Hogs behind by a few scores.
“What he puts on film gains great respect from our players and coaches,” coach Bret Bielema said. “The thing I use it as a modeling tool for is when you’ve got No. 8 playing quarterback back there for you, you better play until that whistle blows. Don’t give up on a route, don’t give up on a block, don’t stop protecting, because he’s going to keep it alive.”
So far this season, Allen leads the SEC in passing touchdowns with 15 and is second in quarterback rating at 158. Only Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs has been sacked more times (14) among SEC quarterbacks.
Allen even has shown an ability to run when needed. He nearly picked up a first down on third-and-long against Alabama by scrambling and lowering his shoulder to break a tackle.
“He did some things against (Alabama) that you say, ‘Man, that’s awesome, watching him do that,’ ” offensive coordinator Dan Enos said. “Third-and-20, he makes that 18-yard run, lowers his shoulder. I mean, what a competitor.
“If it’s third-and-20 and the marker’s right there. Man, we’ve got to get it. If you slide, you’ve got to punt, and that’s not what he’s going to do, and that’s not what we’re about.”