Tuesday Grid Update, 9/10

Brandon Allen hit one goal with quarterback runs. Arkansas needs some improvement after Tuesday installations, Jim Chaney said.

Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney thought it was a typical Tuesday practice, too many mistakes after some new installations.

"We put in some new stuff and we struggled with it," Chaney said. "That's normal for a Tuesday, it's just what happens. We've got some cleaning up to do."

The goal, Chaney said, is to play "consistent, intelligent, smart football with great effort for 60 minutes."

He said the staff has tried to be smart with the work load for the wide receivers after depth took a hit with injuries in preseason camp. He was asked if the Hogs could play with three wide receivers in the formation with the current depth issues.

"We could if we had to, and we'd compete and do well," Chaney said. "In practice, we have taken a mindset of not trying to kill them during the week because we do have fewer bodies. You can ask them to do too much running."

Wide receiver coach Michael Smith knows the Hogs will have to add to their offense as teams adjust to the bread-and-butter of the first two weeks, including an obvious trend to tight end Hunter Henry and wide receiver Javontee Herndon.

"I think with Javontee's continued improvement, some teams will take him away with their schemes," Smith said. "But we have other very good receivers and we will be prepared for that. I think you'll see other guys step up as that happens."

Herndon, Chaney said, is playing well.

"He's smart and plays like a senior," Chaney said. "He's done what you'd expect someone with experience and ability to do."

Smith said he knew Herndon was a good player when he arrived.

"I leaned on him because of his experience," Smith said. "He's been great from the start. Maybe his production had not been there in other years, but we expected him to have a good year.

"I think you see the relationship that Brandon Allen has with him. Speaking from experience, when you have a quarterback-receiver relationship like that, it's always a good think.

"I think you saw a point where he thought his time was coming (with older receivers departing) and he expressed it to me. He wants it to be his time and he's performed when he's had opportunities. But we've got others who can step up, too.

"The key is for everyone to continue to work on their blocking. You can see that will be a key part of wide receiver play because of the capabilities of our running backs to get to the second level. You've seen that already. We've improved, their but we can do better."

Allen isn't worried about the wideouts.

"I think we have top receivers," he said. "When someone's number is called, they are going to step up. We really have worked to establish the run, more than in the past. But we still have the capabilities in the passing game. As long as we are winning, I'm happy and it doesn't matter how we do it."

That means sometimes taking off in passing downs. Allen converted two first downs with quarterback keepers.

"Coach Chaney has a goal for the quarterbacks, two first downs with your feet," Allen said. "So we got that."

Chaney liked those conversions, but he was equally proud of Allen for a couple of key third-down conversions when the Hogs trailed.

"The third-and-11 to Julian Horton was good, but the next third down on the pass to Hunter Henry might have been one of Brandon's better plays," Chaney said. "That was a blitz and there were two guys in Brandon's face."

Allen said that wasn't so tough.

"It was a weakside blitz that we saw," he said. "I got rid of it quick enough that I wasn't hit. I don't think I've been hit very much, maybe two times in two games. That's pretty good. Our line has done well. I haven't taken any real shots yet. You get the running game going, the quarterback doesn't get hit nearly as much."

Chaney said, not well enough.

"You are never completely comfortable with protection," Chaney said. "We've got work to do there, but we are improving. We've won two games and gained some confidence. We want to continue to have better attention to details.

"I think Brandon Allen learned a lot Saturday. We laid an egg with the turnovers and penalties and we had some missed assignments coming off the goal line. There was a point in the third quarter when everyone was pressing, but everyone worked together and things started smoothing out."

Chaney was asked when he recognized that running back Alex Collins had "a wow factor." He thought that was a funny question.

"I always thought he was good," Chaney said. "I don't know if I ever thought there was a wow factor. I'm an older guy who probably has seen a few things."

Collins leads the SEC in rushing with 151.5 rushing yards per game, with teammate Jonathan Williams third at 138.5 per game. He said it's a tight "brotherhood" in the backfield, along with senior Kiero Small. He also said his early success was a bit of a surprise.

"I am surprised," he said. "I didn't expect this. I just wanted to do the best I could. I do appreciate my teammates, my line and everyone on the team. I want to stay humble."

As far as any competition with Williams for the running back job, he said there was always a thought that there would be enough carries for everyone. Sharing the load makes for a nice one, two punch.

"It's good to switch it back and forth," Collins said. "You want to keep your legs fresh, that way we always have the ability to go all the way."

What about tension between the two backs?

"It's a brotherhood, so we are not out to compete in that way," he said. There was never that. I came here and we immediately worked out together and formed that bond. Then, when practices start, you do compete in some ways. I pushed him, he pushed me and then we became brothers."

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