Austin Allen Impresses Both Coordinators in Spring Drills at Arkansas

Junior quarterback Austin Allen turned heads with a sterling performance in the Saturday scrimmage. Allen impressed both coordinators at Arkansas, Dan Enos and Robb Smith.

Austin Allen piled up the stats in a sterling scrimmage on Saturday. The junior quarterback completed 14 of 17 passes for 204 yards on a day when third down plays were emphasized.

It was just more of what he's done all spring, impressing both offensive coordinator Dan Enos and defensive coordinator Robb Smith. Allen drew praise from both on Monday, the eighth day of spring practice moving the Hogs past the halfway mark. The Hogs will practice Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday this week.

"Austin was very accurate," said Enos, who also coaches the quarterbacks. "He's been very accurate this spring. He threw it really well going to his left. He extended plays. We were working on third down plays and he was very consistent.

"I think what I've seen this spring, he's really been good on the intermediate routes, very accurate. He's thrown the deep ball well, although he missed one today."

Smith just grinned when Allen was mentioned. He said it's been tough to rattle him into turnovers this spring.

"He's having a great camp and he's really stressed the defense," Smith said. "He makes great decisions with the football. He finds our holes. It's the decision making that I like the most."

Enos liked the scrimmage, but not the Monday practice. But it was probably to be expected. There was a lot of installation in the practice and some fixing with mistakes that happened Saturday.

"We have to be more consistent than we were today," Enos said.

Secondary coach Paul Rhoads called it a typical Monday following a scrimmage.

"You see that a lot," he said. "You start the day with critical meetings and go over some things, then move to installation. It's a lot to cover and sometimes that's what happens. It's a good gauge of mental toughness, how you handle fixes and take critical coaching."

The installations cover some scout team breakdowns because there will be work against opponents starting Tuesday, particularly on defense where up-tempo offenses are worked against.

Smith said this will be the time when some nuances of the defense are added against "tempo teams," with some ideas added from Rhoads.

"We'll start doing some things that we pulled from what Paul has done against tempo teams," Smith said. "He's brought us some excellent insight into tempo, some new ideas to the table. We are excited to get to that this week and show them to our players."

Rhoads said the basics are there to move into those areas.

"What I want to say is that the fundamentals have been good here," he said. "I'm talking about what Robb Smith, Vernon Hargreaves, Rory Segrest and Clay Jennings have taught.

"So it makes it easy to add some things. We've got the concepts down on leverage, angles and alignment. So now we are just going to add a few things."

The offense clicked in the red zone against the secondary on Saturday. Enos liked what he saw as far as touch and skill with all of the quarterbacks.

"I think what we saw is some really good throws to the left and that was by all of our quarterbacks -- Austin Allen, Rafe Peavey and Ty Storey. Ricky Town did some good things in his limited time, too.

"Throwing to your left is not easy. We have seen our quarterbacks do it really well. That was certainly a strength with Brandon Allen and these guys have done it well, too."

The third down package was solid on Saturday, especially the bootleg passing game. Enos said it's been an area that the Hogs have done well with in the past.

"It was really good for us last year," he said. "Breaking down the season, we had 60 plays that were bootlegs, nakeds or waggles. So that's something we want to work on and make sure we are good going forward."

Rhoads said the scrimmage produced some great teaching points on those plays, along with the red zone completions to wide receivers.

"I think when you are in man coverage, the things you give up generally come down to something at the line of scrimmage," he said. "We did not have busts. We had physical things. In other words, it's a stance thing or a technique. We got exposed down there. We made some adjustments in practice today."

There were exciting things in the scrimmage, Smith said. He continues to bubble about the play of defensive end Deatrich Wise, linebacker Brooks Ellis and the development of safeties Josh Liddell, Santos Ramirez and De'Andre Coley.

"I think the light bulb has come on for Deatrich," Smith said. "I think what you saw at the end of last year is that he finally stayed healthy. Now, he's doing a great job of leading. I think the last two Saturdays have been very good for Wise."

There was also praise for linebackers Dre Greenlaw, Randy Ramsey and Khalia Hackett. Smith said it might have been Hackett's best scrimmage. Kendrick Jackson also received praise at linebacker, now a position of better depth. Last year, the Hogs stayed in a nickel package, playing just two linebackers.

"I think there are a lot more situations coming where we will have three linebackers on the field," Smith said. "We've got more linebackers."

There were questions about McTelvin "Sosa" Agim's scuffle in the scrimmage.

"Sosa has a great heart," Smith said. "We just have to point him in the right direction. There are going to be times we play him in a front with two other ends."

That will also include a converted end, tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter. Smith said Ledbetter is having a great spring.

"He's embraced the three technique," Smith said. "We've improved that part of our defense. We'll have some situations where we have Wise next to him, with Dre behind them. That area looks much better."

The secondary has played two basic coverages the past two weeks. That will be expanded in the coming seven practices.

"We'll add some things," Smith said. "We'll go through some things, the nuances."

Enos said that will be a challenge.

"Our defense is always a challenge," Enos said. "We'll see some things the last two weeks that are going to help us."

Protections have been average so far. That's to be expected in spring drills, especially replacing three offensive line starters. Plus, line coach Kurt Anderson has toyed with combinations to prepare for situations that might happen in the fall.

"You don't know what you'll face, so you want to see who can play multiple positions," he said. "What we have learned is that Zach Rogers can play all three of the interior positions. We also have toyed with some other looks. We looked at Dan Skipper at left tackle some today."

Brian Wallace has practiced at both left tackle and right guard. Anderson would not commit to a position for the sophomore giant. First, he's got to stay on the field. He's missed three practices because of concussion issues, including Monday. He's expected back Tuesday.

"Brian worked in some situations today, but he was not cleared for contact," Anderson said. "He worked at guard and tackle today.

"I think he's a natural guard and I told him that is what he looks like as far as the NFL is concerned. So why not try him there? He did well in that one practice before he got hurt.

"I just want to be prepared for anything in the fall. You want to have them see a lot of things.

"As far as protections, we are about where you'd expect to be in the spring. They were in a lot of third downs on Saturday, 30 in a row. You have to be able to handle that, but it's tough. I will say that protection is what keeps you up at 3 a.m. thinking about all of it. I think we'll be better after the next two weeks. We'll try to put them through the mental grind that gets them ready."

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