As any offensive coordinator knows, success of his side of the ball hinges a lot on how well the quarterback plays and last Saturday was no exception.
Arkansas first-year offensive coordinator Dan Enos was quick to credit Razorback fifth-year senior quarterback Brandon Allen, who came through with some huge plays late in a 54-46 win over Auburn in four overtimes.
Allen was 19-of-31 passing for 233 yards with three touchdowns and one interception and also caught a throwback pass from Damon Mitchell for 11 yards.
“I really thought Brandon Allen was really clutch and just played a super football game,” Enos said. “The plays he made at critical times were just unbelievable to see.
“We needed those plays offensively and when you win a game like that you have got to have guys makes plays. Guys made plays.”
That performance could be a flip-the-script moment for Allen, who has struggled at times late in his career and the narrative has been he could not come up big late.
He was 7-of-10 passing in the four overtimes.
“I hope that it is something that we can continue to build off of,” Enos said. “I have got to be honest with you, some of those throws and some of those plays he made down the stretch were just big-time, big-time plays at big-time moments.
“It doesn’t get any bigger than how he did that. Hopefully, over the years, you have seen guys and their confidence just grow from these experiences and we hope it is something that we can really build on.
“…Certainly Brandon has got to feel really good and feel really confident about how he played. I really liked the look in his eyes throughout the fourth quarter going into overtime, the conversations that we were having.
“I thought he was really focused and really determined to do whatever it took us to win.
“He got banged up on the throwback to the quarterback and was hobbling and limping around, but he is tough and certainly stayed in there and just made some great plays for us.”
Allen went to his third option on what turned into a do-or-die, game-tying, two-point conversion pass to Jeremy Sprinkle in the third overtime.
“That was his third option,” Enos said. “That was a great, great play by Brandon and Jeremy. We have run that play every Thursday as a two-point play as our first two-point play that we were going to run.
“His first read was the guy (Drew Morgan) running to the flat. They covered him, then he went to the corner route to Dominique (Reed) and he was covered and Jeremy’s job was to push up the field and try to create a rub if he could and then get a half-yard deep in the end zone and then sit and wait and work with the quarterback if he didn’t get it released on time.
“He did exactly what he was taught and Brandon did exactly what he did and it was a great throw.”
Allen was also used as a runner more on Saturday, picking up two first downs on three called runs and ending the day with six carries for 11 yards, which includes sacks.
Enos said there was no hesitation on using Allen on those running plays.
“We have got to try and win,” Enos said. “We don’t want to run him 20 times a game, but I think there has been about three or four games now where on some of those third-down plays we have used him to run.”
Enos was also quick to point out several others who helped Arkansas (3-4, 2-2) secure the win in advance of Saturday’s 3 p.m. homecoming game against Tennessee-Martin (5-2).
“It was very important to get a guy like Kody Walker back, Dominique Reed obviously continues to get better and helps our football team and Drew Morgan continues to make plays and play very well,” Enos said.
Enos said it was imperative for Arkansas to be physical.
“I thought again we had some guys step up and the big thing is that I thought we were very physical,” Enos said. “After our game at Alabama where we didn’t run the ball very well or very effectively.
“We thought one of the big keys to victory was that we had to establish the line of scrimmages, get back to running the football as we did in the other games.
“It was good to see and we really felt as we watched the video yesterday that the offensive line, the tight ends, the backs, the running backs, that everybody just tried to play physical so that was very encouraging to see.”