Hogs: Austin Allen ready, anxious to start at QB; honoring Lou Holtz; more notes

Hogs: Austin Allen ready, anxious to start at QB; honoring Lou Holtz; more notes

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FAYETTEVILLE - Louisiana Tech redshirt freshman quarterback J’Mar Smith will start Saturday against Arkansas because senior Ryan Higgins was charged with driving while intoxicated, although Tech coach Skip Holtz has said Higgins will play eventually in the game.

At Arkansas, fourth-year junior Austin Allen has apprenticed since 2013 while now NFL brother Brandon Allen started at QB.

“I am definitely ready," Austin Allen says, "It’s been a long time and a lot of preparing and thinking about it, and I am just ready to go out there Saturday.”

Will he be nervous?

“Oh, yeah,” Allen said. “If you don’t get a little bit nervous, you are not right. You are not in the right place. I am really excited about it. As long as you prepare, you play well.”

Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos concurs.

“Just the other day,” Enos said. “I was kinda thinking to myself, ‘Boy, this guy’s probably ready to play a game.’ He’s a great young man. He’s tough. He’s a hard worker. He doesn’t want to let anybody down. I’m really, really confident he’s going to play very, very well.”

Louisiana Tech has posted consecutive nine-win seasons while representing Conference USA, yet because of the hits it took from losing the 2015 senior class, is a 26-point underdog this week.

Any pressure being so heavily favored?

“ No, not at all,” Allen said. “We come in every day like La Tech is the best team we are going to play all year. That’s how it is every single week that we have to prepare like it’s the best team that we will play all year.”

For the first time in fourth-year coach Bret Bielema’s era, the Hogs didn’t practice Thursday but devoted it to the weight room and will practice Friday, a plan that strength coach Ben Herbert studied from the University of Oregon and other college teams and NFL teams.

The different format is designed for fresher legs on game day, Bielema said.


While the Razorbacks and Bulldogs complete their game week routines Friday night, the father of  Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz will be honored as the former Arkansas coach at the Razorbacks Hall of Honor banquet at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers.

College Football Hall of Fame coach Lou Holtz, coaching the Razorbacks at a 60-21-2 clip from 1977-83 including an 11-1 first season  capped by mammoth 31-6 upset of prohibitively favored Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, will be inducted Friday night into the Razorbacks Hall of Honor along with one of his greatest Razorbacks, safety Greg Lasker of Conway, and the late Danny Rhodes, an All-Southwest Conference linebacker staring for Frank Broyles’ Razorbacks from 1971-73.

Other inductees include basketball greats Oliver Miller and the late Tom Pickell; Kenderick Moore, one of the best in baseball under retired Razorbacks coach Norm DeBriyn; former record-setting sprinter Roddie Haley for retired Razorbacks coach John McDonnell and former Lady Razorbacks greats Christin Wurth-Thomas, a U.S. Olympian coached by now two-time NCAA champion coach Lance Harter and All-SEC softball pitcher Tammy Kincaid Dustin.

Lou Holtz would have been inducted into the Razorbacks Hall of Honor long ago but never was available because he was either coaching at Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina or working as a college football analyst for ESPN or CBS.

The timing is something Skip Holtz savors having lived from 1977-83 in Fayetteville and attending Fayetteville High.

“It's great to see my dad honored for everything he accomplished during his days at Fayetteville and the success he had with the program,” Skip Holtz said. “It's great to see the people of Arkansas bring him back. It’s going to mean an awful lot to him.”

As it does to Skip.

“I have great memories of growing up in Fayetteville,” Skip Holtz said. “I still have close friends there I stay in touch with. Fayetteville is still a very special place to me.”

It would be all the more special for him if his underdog Bulldogs, losing much to graduation off last year’s 9-4 team, could pull off a upset.

Bielema calls Skip Holtz “one of the good guys in our profession,” but also among the most competitive with consecutive nine-win seasons.

Skip Holtz has coached against Arkansas previously. By an Alex Tejada field goal in overtime, Bobby Petrino’s 2009 Razorbacks edged Holtz’s East Carolina Pirates, 20-17 in Arctic temperatures at the Liberty Bowl.

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