AUBURN, Ala. — Austin Allen took another beating Saturday night throughout the entirety of Arkansas’ 56-3 loss at Auburn.
The Arkansas quarterback was sacked 3 times in the first quarter alone. And the sack numbers don’t even tell the whole story considering how many times he got a pass off just as another Auburn defender crashed into him.
Heck, even Allen’s late first-quarter fumble wasn’t entirely his fault. He was forced into scrambling after Auburn’s Carl Lawson blew past right tackle Brian Wallace and nearly sacked Allen, who scrambled and picked up 11 yards before dropping the ball on an ill-advised pump fake.
All told, this was another really, really bad night for the Arkansas offensive line, a unit that Bret Bielema continues to defend with less and less credibility.
Arkansas (5-3, 1-3 SEC) averaged a feeble 0.8 yards on 31 rushes Saturday night, but Bielema blamed that on rushing numbers getting “a little bit skewed” because the Hogs were forced into passing once they got down by a couple scores.
Sorry, not buying it. Especially when the Hogs’ longest run of the night was Allen’s 11-yarder that ended with a fumble.
Rushing woes aside, what has happened to Allen this season is beginning to border on criminal. Arkansas opponents have recorded 21 sacks this season. In the 2014 and 2015 seasons combined, the Hogs surrendered 28 sacks.
Fortunately for Arkansas, Allen is proving to be tougher than anyone could have imagined. He’s left two games this season with injuries that looked serious to the naked eye. But Allen emerged from the medical tent both times without missing much action at all.
Asked about his postgame message to the team, Bielema said, “There’s two types of options, run from it and go hide or take ownership in it. And as the head coach I took responsibility for it.
“I said put this on me. It’s my responsibility to put you in a better position to play and get our coaches in the right position to make the right calls. Not by any means a pass or give them a waiver on why this happened. You’ve got to accept it and understand it. If you don’t make corrections, it can happen again.”
There weren’t any blockers to “take ownership” for it after the game, though. Not publicly, anyway.
The only two players made available for postgame interviews were a pair of seniors in wide receiver Keon Hatcher and defensive tackle Taiwan Johnson.
Asked about the need to protect Allen better, Hatcher said, “Guys just gotta come out and strain, man. Gotta play with some heart. Come out and strain.
“This guy’s giving his all for you back there. You’ve gotta give your all for him.
“Me personally, I don’t know if I could do that. I take my hat off to that guy. He’s very tough.”