Hog: QB Austin Allen preps for possible start at Mizzou; FB Walker goes home; notes
FAYETTEVILLE - In both Fayetteville and Columbia, Mo., the Arkansas Razorbacks and Missouri Tigers cram plenty of preparation into a short week.
Frosh QB AUSTIN ALLEN
Arkansas (6-5, 2-5 in the SEC West) and SEC East-leading Missouri (9-2, 6-1) play at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Columbia on CBS TV following successes last week when Arkansas shut out Ole Miss, while Mizzou won at Tennessee.
"It's going pretty good, a shorter week without a day off," junior Arkansas receiver Keon Hatcher said. "We just have to get everything installed and get ready for Friday."
The practice urgency applies defensively, too.
"We got little things done on Sunday, and we got things done on Monday as well," Arkansas senior defensive end and team captain Trey Flowers said. "We are well caught up and we are expecting a good day Friday."
Since Monday marked the Razorbacks normal NCAA-mandated game-week off day, Coach Bret Bielema couldn't practice the Hogs until 10:30 p.m. Monday because so many have Monday late afternoon and night classes.
Apparently, the Hogs practiced like night owls.
"Everybody was pretty energetic," Hatcher said. "We had a great practice, probably one of the best practices we had all year."
Fourth-year junior fullback Kody Walker concurred even as he acknowledged the night workout caught up to him.
"I was kind of tired but it was a good practice," Walker said. "We went to go eat and then came out and had a nice physical practice and got done things we needed to get done. So we took a step forward last night."
Bielema and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney have much to do offensively, breaking in redshirt freshman Austin Allen as the likely starting quarterback. Older Allen brother Brandon Allen, the fourth-year junior starter, seems questionable for Friday's game after injuring his hip during the first half of the 30-0 victory over Ole Miss.
Brandon Allen missed the remainder of the game and likely won't attempt to practice until Thursday's light workout, Bielema said at his Monday press conference.
Austin Allen drew high praise, parlaying a 17-0 lead into a 30-0 victory with help from a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by safety Rohan Gaines. The younger Allen has drawn praise for his week's practices.
"Austin has been great," said Hatcher, who caught a 33-yard pass from Austin against Ole Miss. "I have very high confidence in Austin and he has high confidence in himself. I like that he goes out there with that swagger, knowing you can do it and you make it happen."
Walker sees young Allen taking veteran command.
"It's next man up, and his confidence is getting good," Walker said.
Junior 1,000-yard rushing back Jonathan Williams praised both Austin Allen and Damon "Duwop" Mitchell, the redshirt freshman receiver/running back recruited out of Egg Harbor, N.J., as a QB and working there this week as a possible backup since true freshman Rafe Peavey redshirts and needs to sit this game and the bowl game to be freshman eligible in 2015.
"Austin is stepping in there," Williams said. "Duwop is stepping in there. Everybody taking quarterback reps is looking good. Whoever is at quarterback this weekend, we're comfortable with them."
MIZZOU MAKES IT MAUK
Arkansas' QB situation seems to put an increased load on Arkansas' defense, the first unranked team successively to shut out ranked teams (17-0 over then 17th College Playoff ranked LSU and 30-0 over then No. 8 Ole Miss).
Coach Gary Pinkel's Tigers and Mizzou QB Maty Mauk, after a dreadful 34-0 loss at home to Georgia, have reeled off five consecutive wins 42-13, 24-14, 20-10, 34-27 and 29-21 over SEC rivals Florida, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Tennessee.
"He (Mauk) is definitely a good quarterback," Flowers said. "He obviously can run with his legs and use his legs to get away and scramble. I would probably compare him to Kenny Hill at Texas A&M as being able to escape the pocket and make plays on the run."
KODY WALKER COMES HOME
For fullback Kody Walker, Friday's game is a virtual homecoming.
He grew up in Jefferson City, Mo., just 30 miles from Mizzou's Faurot Field.
"It's going to be awesome, man," Walker said. "Nothing else like it, going home playing in front of friends and family. I never thought I would get that chance because when I came out they were still in the Big 12."
Did Mizzou recruit him?
"Yeah, they did," Walker said. "It actually came down to between there and here. But I just came down here and felt at the time it was the right place for me. It felt like home coming down here."
Bet there was hometown pressure to stay home.
"Yeah, people were trying to swing me to play for my home state and play for my home team, Missouri, but I had to do what was best for me and that was come down here," Walker said. "No regrets. I love it down here."