FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — After a play during a recent Arkansas spring practice, senior quarterback Austin Allen walked to offensive coordinator Dan Enos and noted that the tight end did something wrong.
“Don’t talk to me,” Enos responded. “Tell him. I’m not the one running the route.”
Enos was mostly teasing his signal caller, albeit with a little sincere hint attached.
Allen — entering his second season as Arkansas’ starting quarterback — is still learning to be an effective vocal leader, but he’s much better at it. That will happen when you’re breaking in an almost entirely new group of pass catchers.
Arkansas returns senior Jared Cornelius caught 32 passes for 515 yards and 4 touchdowns last season and was the Razorbacks’ third-leading receiver. But the Hogs must replace numbers 1, 2 and 4 on that list.
Wide receivers coach Michael Smith had nothing but praise for Allen after practice Thursday.
“I don’t understand how anybody could think he’s not the best quarterback in our conference for what we ask him to do, the package that we run, the guys he has to work with,” Smith said. “Not a knock on my guys, but he’s got a whole new group of guys.
“He’s saying all the right things to them. It’s refreshing as a coach to hear a guy speak the way he does to my guys with the youth that I have. Austin Allen to me is one of the better quarterbacks in this country.”
Enos said an even truer test of Allen’s leadership growth will come this summer, when coaches won’t be around as much and on-field workouts are organized and led by the players themselves.
In his first season as the starter, Allen completed 61.1 percent of his pass attempts for 3,430 yards, 25 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. His production dipped significantly over the second half of the season, though, and he threw 3 interceptions in the second half of the Razorbacks’ Belk Bowl loss to Virginia Tech.