Hogs prep backup QBs; D takes inventory; notes

Hogs prep backup QBs; D takes inventory; notes

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FAYETTEVILLE - If his Razorbacks were playing Saturday, Coach Bret Bielema said junior starting quarterback Austin Allen likely would not be able to play.

Allen sprained a knee during Saturday’s 56-3 lopsided SEC West loss at Auburn.

Fortunately, for the Razorbacks, they have a bye week to heal their pride from Saturday’s embarrassment and injured players, who did not practice Tuesday and Wednesday, including Allen and starting right offensive tackle Brian Wallace (injured toe).

Allen vows he will be ready Nov. 5 when the Hogs play host to Florida at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.

But if Allen has not recovered by Nov. 5, either second-year freshman Ty Storey of Charleston or redshirting freshman Cole Kelley must be ready to play.

Bielema may need one or both, even if Allen can start given Allen’s exposure to injury. The junior from Fayetteville has  been knocked around considerably in losses to Texas A&M, Alabama and Auburn and in the Razorbacks’ victory over Ole Miss.

Storey, a redshirt freshman, is the nominal backup. He has logged just three bit parts in lopsided victories over Texas State and Alcorn State and the Auburn loss. He played one second-quarter series at Auburn when Allen was initially injured and  finally finished the fourth quarter after Allen’s knee began swelling.

Allen’s knee has since been drained, Allen said Tuesday, and a MRI Sunday showed no damage beyond the sprain, Bielema said during his Wednesday press conference before practice.

Allen didn’t practice Tuesday or Wednesday and will sit out the Razorbacks’ closed practices Thursday and Friday.
Storey and Kelley split Tuesday’s reps and were set to split them again Wednesday, Bielema said Wednesday morning.

Bielema said he hasn’t ruled out activating Kelley from redshirting, if Allen’s knee or any future injuries impair him from playing Arkansas’ final four games.

Austin Allen, Bielema said, was a similar redshirt in waiting behind his brother, Brandon, in 2013.

“What we've done with Cole is we've really continued from B.A.’s first year as a starter, his backup was Austin Allen,” Bielema said.  “Austin was the guy who was in that position. Thankfully we were able to redshirt him. We went through the whole year and never had to use him, but he repped all the time with the 2's and the 3's and continued to progress. Ty is getting a number of reps, but Cole gets a lot of reps as well so those two guys keep coming along. Obviously we'll continue to recruit at that position too, but those guys got the exclusive work yesterday just because Austin can't go.”

Redshirt freshman Colton Jackson of Conway, the starting right tackle when the season began until supplanted by Wallace, works at first-team right tackle again with Wallace idled.

Offensive coordinator/QB coach Dan Enos was asked Wednesday about Storey and Kelly.

“They’ve gotten a lot of reps through camp and through the season,” Enos said Wednesday morning. “Obviously the No. 1 gets the lion’s share of the reps. Yesterday, without Austin in there, those two guys pretty much split them 50/50, so they got a bunch of really good reps. They’ll get them all today, too. It’ll be good. As a coach, you’re getting your starter ready, but we’re always developing. In my meetings every day, the whole year, just like I did with Austin and the guys last year and through practice and through drills and through different things, we’re continually developing those young guys and trying to get them ready so if there is an opportunity that they can go out there and perform as well as they can.”

Enos said the coaches are using the bye week to work some young offensive linemen at different spots.

Other than senior tackle Dan Skipper and junior center Frank Ragnow, the line’s two returning starters, the Arkansas offensive line was over-matched against Auburn and could not protect Allen nor establish a running game.

Meanwhile, the  Arkansas defense was literally run over. Auburn rushed for 543 yards on the Hogs.

“You know what, after a performance like that you have to evaluate everything from A to Z,” Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith said. “We have got to find ways to get guys in better spots. That starts with where they line up in. We will use the bye week to take a look at that. Especially with our front seven and see if we can address some concerns in the run game.”

Arkansas junior safety De’Andre Coley was supposed to miss the first half of the Auburn game as part  of a targeting penalty and automatic ejection during the second half of the victory over Ole Miss. However, Coley also missed the second half against Auburn.

That second-half absence came with no penalty attached.

“He actually was coming over for Wednesday's practice, talking to his mother on the phone and stepped in a pothole and rolled his ankle,” Bielema said Wednesday.  “That was one of those days where you felt like you got hit upside the head.  It was probably a great indicator that it just wasn’t our week.

Bielema hopes Coley will be fit to practice Sunday when the Hogs launch game week with a practice after a Saturday off.

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