One of the luxuries that Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema and new Razorback offensive coordinator Dan Enos enjoys going into this season is having a fifth-year senior quarterback in Brandon Allen.
Allen is coming off a redshirt junior season in which he was 190-of-339 passing (56 percent) for 2,285 yards with 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions.
Those numbers dwarf his sophomore season of 128-of-258 passing (49 percent) for 1,552 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
His quarterback rating jumped from 109 to 129.2.
“I think that’s why, to be quite honest, I would say that’s why a lot of people feel good about us from the outside world,” Bielema said. “I just think as a coach anytime you have a fifth-year quarterback that’s a multi-year starter, there’s a certain comfort level with what he’s seen, what he’s done. Been there, done that.
“Also, being a senior, your life literally changes every day. I mean, that’s why I have seniors give talks at the end of the year rather than the front of the year, is their perspective changes so much as the end gets near.
“You begin to understand that that one more opportunity isn’t always going to be there.”
Enos has coached a few fifth-year quarterbacks and has enjoyed working with Allen.
“I have been around a few guys that have gotten to their fifth year,” Enos said. “ And I think it makes a big difference. They have been through the fire a little bit.
“Every situation is different, but obviously with Brandon having a couple of years under his belt and playing in some big games, playing a bowl game, obviously in this league every week is big, I think from a preparation standpoint he is very comfortable with how he prepares.
“Obviously he has done a very good job through this camp and through this spring and certainly we expect him to do that again this week to take his preparation to another level.
“I think as you become an older player you find little things that work for you and things that don't work for you and obviously your weekly routine leading into your game on Saturday is very, vey important. Your daily agenda, how you go about that.
“We visited a little bit last night about that and I think the more you play and the more experience you have and the more of those things you can drop back and learn from.”
Allen has a less than stellar first scrimmage this preseason camp while going 10-of-23 passing, but bounced back from that quickly and was 17-of-21 with four touchdowns in the second scrimmage.
“I think he had a really good camp,” Enos said. “I think he had a really good spring. He has been very consistent since I have been here. That's one thing that has been really nice about him is every day I come in I know what to expect from Brandon.
“It's going to be a very focused demeanor, a guy that is very coachable. A guy that want to be a great player and wants to do whatever it takes and is very diligent about working at the things he needs to work at.”
That includes being consistent in practice.
“He's been very consistent, he's had some really good practices. He's probably only had a couple of days out of all the practice opportunities that we have had where I don't think he performed to a championship caliber - only a couple of those days that we really looked at.
“And as I have said since I have been here, if you are a quarterback you are going to have days - that's part of the deal - you have got the ball in your hands every play and it's the toughest position in any sport, I believe to excel at and be great at because there is just so much asked of you.
“So what we look at is if a guy is not having a particularly good moment in practice, make sure that doesn't lead to another moment in practice or one bad play lead to two and so on and so forth and how they respond.
“So a guy's ability to bounce back from a play is crucial to that position. That's one thing we talk about a lot as a quarterback group. And I thought he was able to do that on the limited days he might not have been as sharp as we was those other days.”
It would appear that Allen may be on the verge of becoming more than just a manager of the game and turning into a playmaker.
“He had some days he would wow you almost the entire practice with just different things that he did decision-making, accuracy those type of things. So we have been very pleased with him.
“He's fun to work with, the whole group is fun to work with because they are very coachable and they are very eager and as Coach has mentioned many times. we have some pieces around him and I am looking forward to watching him play.”