Brandon Allen stepped up in the aftermath of the loss to Texas A&M. The Arkansas quarterback said the 28-21 overtime loss was on him. That didn't sit well with head coach Bret Bielema. Plus, offensive coordinator Dan Enos said it's on coaches, too. Defensive coordinator Robb Smith pointed at himself on a big play allowed late in the game.
Bielema met with the media on Monday to review the loss to A&M and preview the trip to play Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., this weekend. Bielema said he sees Allen trying to carry the load of the team in the wake of several injuries to key offensive personnel like Jonathan Williams, Keon Hatcher, Cody Hollister and Jared Cornelius.
"For every player who has gone down, Brandon is like, JWill goes down, it's on me to do more, Cody is out, it's on me, Keon is out, it's on me, Jared is out, it's on me," Bielema said. "It just compounds things and he wants to do more and give that much more of an effort. He's a great kid and he's going to try to do that.
"I've talked to Dan (Enos) about that and he's felt the same thing. It's just the way Brandon is."
Bielema said he talked to Jonathan Williams at practice Sunday night. Williams said he's been listening to fans and reading Internet blogs. He said "people are down" on Allen.
"First, I told JWill, he's got too much time on his hands," Bielema said. "That's part of the world.
"Brandon was 20 of 25 passing last week. He was 13 of 13 at one point. He's doing everything possible."
At that point, Bielema was either mad or emotional as he discussed the issue. You could see his eyes misty.
"I'm telling you, he is as tough as they come," Bielema said of Allen. "He was doing everything he could to help us win the game. He tried to run it in on the goal line and tried to run over the guy, and the other guy got carried off. He got drilled after a run and there were three flags. He's tough and the pros have noticed.
"I don't think there has ever been a more misunderstood player that I've been around. Our goal is for us to do things to finish off his senior year the right way."
Enos understands the role of the quarrterback, and also the playcaller.
"We are chasing perfection," Enos said. "We are chasing it every day, I do and he does. No one ever reaches that.
"Brandon has made so many good plays this year. He's a really good player. But when you don't make them at the end of a close loss, those become magnified.
"Our goal is to make 100 percent of those within our ability. That's just what we have to do."
Asked about the two final plays, Enos didn't flinch in describing the two incomplete passes by Allen in the overtime.
"The last play, I think it was going to a player," Enos said of the attempt to get Drew Morgan the ball on the out pattern. "We had a good man-to-man beater and a good zone in the pattern. Hunter Henry was the second man, but he was having difficulty getting off the line. The third down throw, it was just under thrown."
Replays indicate Henry was being held. There were other missed calls that didn't go the way of the Hogs. On another fourth-down early in the game, Jojo Robinson was being held as the ball arrived on a throw by Allen. That resulted in a pass interception.
Defensive coordinator Robb Smith said there were signs of improvement against A&M.
"We got better in certain areas, but better is not good enough," he said. "We have to put together four straight quarters.
"We gave up big plays, but we did make a few plays in the red zone. I look at the stretch of plays -- seven, eight, nine and 10 -- that were explosive all in a row. But then we got a big stop in the red zone to force a field goal. You have to make up for it with some plays in the red zone at times."
The Hogs did not make a stop late in the fourth quarter when A&M hit a 63-yard pass to Josh Reynolds behind Dre Greenlaw, a freshman linebacker.
"That was on me," Smith said. "For the most part, that was communication and scheme. I don't want to put linebackers on a wide receiver in that situation. Therefore, it was on me. We want certain matchups. We have to do a better job of putting Dre in the right position to make a play. We want him on a running back."
The Hogs put out a new depth chart on Monday listing both Tevin Beanum and Jeremiah Ledbetter as starters at defensive end. They've played the same side until this past week when Smith elected to go with defensive ends across the front.
"There will be more situations this week that we want JaMichael Winston in the game because Tennessee does go with a tight end," Smith said. "Plus, Tenneessee is about 60 percent run on first and second down."
Enos said freshman fullback Kenderick Jackson performed well in limited action against A&M.
"He's doing a good job," Enos said. "He's been physical at the point of attack. We also like the way he catches the ball and there may be some more things for him."
Has he asked to carry the ball? Enos hasn't heard that, but he said running back Jamel Singleton had.
"Coach Singleton did tell me that (Jackson) asked about a carry," Enos said. "That's interesting. He's athletic enough."
Could Jackson be a secret weapon?
Enos said, "Yes, he might be a secret weapon."