Hogs not so sharp Tuesday, but QB Allen just fine; OC Chaney praises Auburn D

Hogs not so sharp Tuesday, but QB Allen just fine; OC Chaney praises Auburn D

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FAYETTEVILLE - Media quickly asked Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney about his starting quarterback Tuesday night when he arrived in the interview room.

Since the Razorbacks used Monday as their NCAA mandated off day, Tuesday was the first time junior QB Brandon Allen and his teammates practiced since some person or persons set fire to Allen's vehicle and destroyed it around 4 a.m. Monday.

Arkansas opens its season at 3 p.m. Saturday in Auburn, Ala., against the defending SEC champion Auburn Tigers.

"He had a good practice," Chaney said. "I was pleased with him. He went out and performed well. It was a good day for him. I don't see any ramifications outside of football that affected him today. I thought he handled it well. He has showed a lot of toughness through all this. He didn't have a good year (last year) we all know that, but he is ready to go play."

Senior offensive tackle Brey Cook also asserted Allen's focus during Tuesday's practice.

"He came in there and really took over that leadership role today," Cook said. "We struggled in some areas, and he was able to step up and pull us along. I feel like that (the suspected arson on his vehicle) was the least of his worries out there on the field, which is right where we want him. He's doing great."

Chaney was asked about the pressure on his offense to keep up with the high-scoring Auburn offense that led the nation in rushing en route to the national championship game.

"I don't worry too much about that," Chaney said. "Our job is to go execute a play and move the ball down the field and score points. Ultimately our objective is to get one more point than they do. So whatever that happens to be that's what we are after. As far as keeping up with them, I don't look at it like that. We need to do it to the best of our abilities."

Asked about Auburn's defense coordinated by Ellis Johnson, Chaney replied, "they are really good."

Beyond that?

"When you are really good, there really is nothing beyond that. I think Coach Johnson is very good," Chaney said. "He's a very talented coordinator. Schematically solid, they don't make mistakes. They play very hard and they have athletic ability and talent so that's what you are dealing with. They are a team that is accustomed to winning games so that above all else is what you are dealing with. They are a good team."

Apparently with a great front four led by All-SEC senior Gabe Wright.

"The talent level up from is the key to their defense, in my opinion," Chaney said. "Their secondary is good, but the difference makers are Gabe up front, and they have got a few kids, if you don't watch them and get a lot of people on them, they will wreck whatever plan I have. You have got to have game-wreckers to be a good D, and in my opinion they have them and they are located up front."

Coach Bret Bielema, Chaney and receivers coach Michael Smith have talked up Arkansas' receivers throughout the preseason, comparing favorably to last year but it gets to "we'll see" as game time nears, Chaney said.

"I like these kids (flankers Keon Hatcher and Drew Morgan and split ends Demetrius Wilson, Cody Hollister and Jared Cornelius)," Chaney said. "I think they have worked their hind ends off. They had another good day today. Hopefully we can deliver the ball accurately enough for them to to catch it and protect the quarterback. They have to be where they need to be, and we have to throw it accurately and the big boys have got to protect them."

Chaney was asked about the intensity of Tuesday's practice regarding the first game week.

"That needs to get better as we approach it," Chaney said. "But you think about it. We had a day off yesterday and today is the first day of practice with school going on and you are trying to teach young kids to eliminate all the distractions and get themselves in a mindset. There is a process on doing that but the first practice the first day of school is usually not as crisp as coaches want, but we got some good work and we'll get good out of that."

Senior tight end AJ Derby, who moved from backup QB last spring (now filled by redshirt freshman Austin Allen), made a splash in spring ball and early preseason at his new position but then missed time with a knee injury.

Derby is practicing again. "AJ is doing well," tight ends coach Barry Lunney said Tuesday. "He's game ready. He's a little bit rusty from being off for a little bit but we're excited about getting him back. I look for him to play quite a bit for us on Saturday."

Bielema on Monday said he has a lot of two tight ends formation and H-back plans to utilize sophomore Hunter Henry, second-team All-SEC as a true freshman last year, Derby, third-year sophomore Jeremy Sprinkle of White Hall and junior Alex Voelzke.



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