Tal­ented QB Allen flies un­der na­tional radar

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

Be­lieve it or not, Arkansas quar­ter­back Austin Allen is the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence’s lead­ing re­turner in pass­ing ef­fi­ciency from a sea­son ago.

It all added up to be­ing picked as the pre­sea­son third-team All-SEC quar­ter­back — be­hind Alabama’s Jalen Hurts and Mis­sis­sippi State’s Nick Fitzger­ald.

Coach Bret Bielema has a pretty good idea about the rea­son for the lack of hype over his se­nior quar­ter­back. The Ra­zor­backs fin­ished 7-6 last sea­son, the first time in Bielema’s first four sea­sons that the school hadn’t im­proved its win total.

Leav­ing an even more dis­ap­point­ing im­pres­sion was how the Ra­zor­backs lost their last two games, with de­feats to lowly Mis­souri and Vir­ginia Tech com­ing af­ter epic sec­ond-half col­lapses.

None of that changes how tal­ented Allen is, at least in the eyes of Bielema. Not when he be­lieves the 6-foot1, 215-pound QB is wor­thy of much more at­ten­tion af­ter throw­ing for 3,618 yards and 25 touch­downs in his first sea­son as a starter a year ago.

Bielema has even used the lack of at­ten­tion as mo­ti­va­tion for Allen, giv­ing him the stats of other top re­turn­ing col­lege quar­ter­backs — who he be­lieves are re­ceiv­ing much more in the “na­tional spot­light” — and com­par­ing their num­bers.

“A lot of (the at­ten­tion) is just win­ning; his num­bers are bet­ter or com­pa­ra­ble than a lot of peo­ple,” Bielema said. “There’s a lot of guys who haven’t fired a shot who are getting a lot of hype.”

As with most any sit­u­a­tion, dat­ing to his days at nearby Fayet­teville High School, Allen shrugs off any per­ceived slight — though he ap­pre­ci­ates his coach’s ef­fort.

“Of course, you see it, but it doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I can’t worry about what some­one from the West Coast or any­one else thinks. I know what I’m do­ing, and I know what it takes to play well.”

Allen played well early last sea­son, in­clud­ing four touch­downs in an over­time win at TCU. He later threw for a ca­reer-best 400 yards in a 49-30 loss to Alabama, though he also threw three of his 15 in­ter­cep­tions in the game. Sev­eral of his in­ter­cep­tions were the re­sult of pres­sure be­hind an of­fen­sive line that al­lowed 35 sacks last sea­son, tied for 103rd in the coun­try.

De­spite that, and some strug­gles for two games af­ter in­jur­ing his right knee is a loss at Auburn, Allen still fin­ished 29th in the coun­try in pass­ing ef­fi­ciency. Only Mis­sis­sippi’s Chad Kelly was bet­ter in the SEC.

“As he’s shown, he’s got the tal­ent and got the arm,” se­nior cen­ter Frank Rag­now said. “He might not be tall enough or what­ever, but he’s shown that he can do what­ever he wants.”

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