Any time a football team loses a game there is usually a lot of blame placed on that squad’s quarterback and that’s no different at Arkansas.
Razorback redshirt junior signal caller Brandon Allen will be the first to tell you that he could have played better in his team’s last two losses – 14-13 to Alabama and 45-32 to Georgia.
But Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman is upset that his troops are not protecting Allen as well as they should and that the running game is not as productive as it had been earlier in the season.
“Obviously we give up seven sacks in the last two games – whether it be us or whoever it is, we have got to get it fixed,” Pittman said, “because we gave up eight last year and we have given up eight this year, but seven has come in the past two weeks.
“We have got to get that fixed,” Pittman added of a line that saw Allen hit the ground 11 times on sacks and knockdowns on Saturday. “We can’t let our quarterback get hit like he has been getting hit.”
Pittman was happy with the efforts of only two offensive linemen on Saturday – guard Sebastian Tretola and center Mitch Smothers.
“Probably who played the best for us was Tretola and Mitch Smothers,” Pittman said. “Those were the two guys that played well enough for us to win, but that was about it.”
Tretola has stepped up vocally while much-maligned tackle Dan Skipper has seemingly taken a step back.
“Tretola is a good player,” Pittman said. “He is a physical guy and he is starting to lead more and we need that right now.
“We have got to get Dan back going, get his confidence back because Dan was that emotional leader for us and we have got to get him feeling better about himself,” Pittman added.
Georgia sophomore linebacker Leonard Floyd (10 tackles, 2 QB hurries, 1 sack) caused havoc during a second quarter in which the Bulldogs outscored the Razorbacks 31-0.
“The bottom line is that we couldn’t handle 84,” Pittman said. “That’s the bottom line. In pass protection, at least in the second half.
“We ran the ball well with over 60 percent efficiency,” Pittman said, “but we did not have a big run. We had a 20-yard run once, but not a real big run.”
Arkansas (3-4, 0-4) steps out of SEC play for Homecoming this week to take on the University of Alabama Birmingham (4-3) at 11 a.m. on the SEC Network.
Allen is 107-of-182 passing this season for 1,293 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions.
He was 28-of-45 for a career-high 296 yards with three touchdowns, two interceptions and a fumble that was returned for a score against Georgia and said he is physically fine to go against the Blazers on Saturday.
“I am perfectly fine,” Allen said. “Bumps and bruises are the normal things in the game of football, but injury-wise I am fine.”
Allen is hoping that Arkansas – the league’s best rushing team -- soon returns to being a dominant run team after games in which it rushed for 126 yards against Georgia and only 89 against Alabama.
“As you can see, it is tough to win games when the run game isn’t going,” Allen said. “It is a big part of us. It is a big part of what we do offensively. Today was a very physical practice and we are looking to get that run game back on track and where it was where we started.”
Jonathan Williams has rushed 104 times for 677 yards and nine touchdowns this season whiled Alex Collins has carried 103 times for 665 yards.
But after 131 yards rushing against Texas A&M, Collins has amassed just 44 yards combined in the last two games.
“He (Collins) has had a great attitude, especially today,” Allen said. “He came out really vocal, which isn’t like him normally. He was real vocal and had a great practice. He is really focusing on the mistakes he is making and really trying to clean those up.”
Arkansas has been able to get some extra work in this week because it is fall break and thus no classes.
“Today we moved it up a little bit,” Allen said. “There’s no classes so we were able to get us in and get us out a little earlier and we got a little time yesterday with no classes so that was good for us to get a little jump on UAB.”
UAB is averaging 258 yards passing and 209 rushing and coming in off a 34-22 loss to Middle Tennessee last Saturday.
Perhaps one of their best games of the season was a 47-34 loss to No. 1 Mississippi State, a team that Arkansas will play on Nov. 1.
One of their top receivers is Maudracus Humphrey, a former Razorback who has 18 catches for 247 yards this season.
The Blazers’ defense is allowing 28.4 points per game.
“They are an athletic team and they like to do a lot of man coverages,” Allen said. “They will mix it up a little bit. They like to press you and get physical. They are just a solid defense and they do a lot of things well.”
Tuesday Grid Update, 10/21
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