FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen has not said much, if anything, to his teammates the Razorbacks’ 28-7 loss to TCU last Saturday. No “Come to Jesus” meetings were held. Allen isn’t the type.
The way he figures it, the best thing he can do is put his head down and get back to work. Less thinking, more playing — emphasis on that last word. This isn’t a job. Play. Enjoy it.
That wasn’t happening so much last Saturday. Allen went 9 for 23 for 138 yards with a touchdown. It produced a 103.88 passer rating, the third-lowest of his career. Only games against LSU and Auburn last year produced worse numbers.
“The guys understand we can’t have that happen again,” Allen said. “Kind of like last year, we can’t have that happen again.”
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Allen, a senior, has never been much of a talker on the field. Back when he was backing up older brother Brandon, the hitch on Austin was he was the better pure passer, but he didn’t quite love football as much as Brandon. Those knocks have disappeared. But anyone thinking Allen is going to be the rah-rah type, full of fiery motivational speeches, is going to be waiting for a long time.
No one was left blameless after Saturday. Whether it’s the offensive line missing fewer assignments, the wide receivers creating better separation, running backs changing their approach or Allen being more confident in the pocket, everything needs a bit of a tweak during this bye week.
That’s part of why Allen didn’t feel the need to say anything. He wouldn’t be telling his teammates anything they didn’t already know. Saturday wasn’t exactly the first time they had experienced that type of disappointment.
“Disappointment. Embarrassing. No one feels worse than us on the field. People can say all they want, but we put in the work throughout the year,” Allen said. “To have things kind of happen like that Saturday, it’s disappointing.”
That doesn’t mean Allen is unwilling to adjust. Offensive coordinator Dan Enos said Wednesday that Allen was processing things too much on the field. Allen said Thursday that meant he was putting too much pressure on himself to be perfect.
No more trying to make the perfect throw — Allen said exactly that. Part of that pursuit of perfection comes with a new receiving corps. Allen said he trusts them, but he hasn’t gone through the games with them yet. He needs more experience with them, and time and repetition create experience.
“[I] noticed that watching film on Sundays. I’m looking for things to get open instead of throwing it open, where last year I was just letting it rip,” Allen said. “This week, I’ve kind of gotten out of practice ‘Just throw it. Just throw the ball.’ … I’ve got to trust in them that they’re going to get open. They know that. I know that.”
That’s Allen’s biggest change. That and his hair, which he said was not cut out of superstition or any latent desire to get “serious,” or whatever claim shortening of hair would represent.
Allen is serious enough as it is. He takes his job seriously, his team seriously.
He seriously doesn’t want to go through another TCU.