Hormones can do crazy things to the human body. Not the least of those is adrenaline, which can play absolute havoc. Pulsing through your endocrine system at rapid speeds, adrenaline can be your best friend or worst enemy.
The body releases adrenaline in preparation for fight or flight, a human response in which we must decide to put up or shut up. Fear and anger are the two emotions most commonly associated with adrenaline and result in the chemistry.
Austin Allen has had too much adrenaline lately.
Arkansas’ first-year quarterback had far more fear, and likely more anger, than his mind and body should have had to deal with lately. No one is blaming him. Adrenaline is an automatic response and wholly justified when the body is constantly and consistently being borne down by hulking, fast defensive linemen and linebackers.
Two weeks after Texas A&M walloped Allen almost 20 times, Alabama did the same. Worse, even. Time and time again Allen would take a dropback and within 2 seconds, he was forced elsewhere. Even when he wasn’t on the run, when he was able to hang in, the odds were strong someone on the Crimson Tide defense would give him a nice, hard pop in the chest. Or hips. Or legs. Other than the handful of no-drop pass plays called Saturday night in the Razorbacks’ 49-30 loss, Allen was almost always forced to do something other than stand in the pocket and receive a clear lane in which he could throw.
Final Austin Allen hit count, unofficially: 26 (including sacks)
— Bart Pohlman (@SportsTalkBart) October 9, 2016
It was new and it wasn’t. Alabama, of course, has superior defensive talent than most teams in college football and said talent was always likely to cause more anxiety than usual. At some point, though, Arkansas’ offensive line is going to have to be better than the opposition’s front.
Left guard Hjalte Froholdt was burned a couple times. Right guard Jake Raulerson was pushed into the backfield with regularity. Right tackle Brian Wallace was smoked off the edge by Alabama’s backup defensive end in the penultimate Arkansas drive of the game. Allen was sacked 6 times for a loss of 49 yards. Such a negative took a chunk out of Arkansas’ rushing yardage total, which finished as 36 carries for 73 yards, or barely more than 2 yards per carry.
Coach Bret Bielema tried to defend the total, saying the sacks yanked a lot of that sum down. He’s not wrong, but even adding in the lost yardage and subbing out 6 carries (the ones that counted as the sacks), it was still only 4-yards per carry. On a night Alabama averaged more than 10 yards per play, that isn’t going to cut it.
“I thought we moved the ball at times very, very well off the run game and the throw game,” Bielema said. “That stat always gets a little misleading, but we definitely can’t have a game where we get sacked 6 times and expect to win it, but it was kind of a result of after getting down by three scores.”
Sure. But that’s twice now. Something will have to change. Florida, LSU and Auburn come in three of the next four games. All three teams are in the top half of the SEC in sacks per game, or rather, were entering Saturday. The Gators and Tigers are second and third in the SEC rushing defense, also entering Saturday. More of what Arkansas did against Texas A&M and Alabama is going to result in disaster.
Things are still OK. For now. Arkansas is 4-2, which is about where most had the Hogs pegged after six games. The 0-2 record in the SEC stings, but in fairness, Alabama and Texas A&M are a combined 12-0. Hardly slouches.
Still, there is enough to take away from those two losses that can leave even the most devout a little pessimistic. Allen is tough, undoubtedly. But you don’t want to find out just how much he can take.
“We’re a 4-2 team that lost to the No. 1 team in the country,” Bielema said, “and did enough things to make that happen. But (we’ve) got to correct the negatives in order for us to move forward on the positives.”