Allen, No. 20 Arkansas eye easier time vs. Alcorn St.

BY foxsports • September 27, 2016

Arkansas not only lost last week's Top 25 clash with Texas A&M, it got battered around by the Aggies' defense.

Quarterback Austin Allen spent much of the night attempting to dodge defenders and often took big hits even when he was able to throw the ball.

It's a good time for a bit of a breather, and fortunately the schedule makers have provided one. The No. 20 Razorbacks (3-1) take the trip to their second home, War Memorial Stadium, in Little Rock to take on Alcorn State on Saturday (noon ET).

The break also comes at a good time considering what comes afterward.

Arkansas follows up with home games against Alabama and Ole Miss. To stay afloat in the SEC, the Razorbacks not only need a victory this weekend to get their confidence back, they need to correct weaknesses that the Aggies exposed last week.

One key area of need: pass protection.

Though sacked only once, Allen was hit early and often in the 45-24 loss to the Aggies - and at one point was diagnosed with a bruised chest muscle. That's not much of an injury as these things go, and the junior will be ready long before the weekend.

Allen continues to look awfully polished for a quarterback making just his fifth career start. He leads the SEC in completion percentage (66.9) and has at least two touchdown passes in each of the first four games.

But if the Arkansas line wants to keep its starter in the game, it's going to have to get the pass protection solved. The Razorbacks have given up seven sacks for the year.

Of course, Allen was a target in part because the running game was missing in action. The line couldn't get a push, and unless he had a fullback in front of him, running back Rawleigh Williams III had a hard time breaking past the first tackler.

Williams led the Razorbacks with 79 rushing yards against A&M, but 55 yards came on one play. Take that away and you're left with 16 carries for 24 yards and a key goal-line fumble, not the kind of production that's going to win you games.

Unless the team can get the short-yardage and goal-line offense in gear, it will continue to leave points on the field.

Defensively, the big issue is stopping the run. The Razorbacks rarely managed that against Texas A&M regardless of whether it was the quarterback or tailback with the football.

Poor positioning and poor tackling proved costly and kept Arkansas from getting even once Texas A&M started pulling away in the second half. The Aggies wound up with 366 yards on the ground.

Quarterback runs burned the Razorbacks as the Aggies' Trevor Knight ripped through the defense for 157 yards and a pair of first-half touchdowns.

Will any of these be a factor this weekend? Probably not.

The Razorbacks shouldn't have a problem with Alcorn State, an FCS program, and indeed should be able to get key players some rest. The Braves are coming off a blowout road loss to Grambling and haven't found their stride yet.

Their opener at Bethune-Cookman was eventually called off after a nearly three-hour delay for lightning. They beat Alabama State 21-18 the next week, but lost to Arkansas-Pine Blue 45-43 in triple overtime and then 43-18 to Grambling last week.

The Braves have a ground-oriented attack that has produced an average of 187.3 yards rushing for the season and has had at least 175 yards rushing in every game. Running back Aaron Baker has rushed for 175 yards in two appearances, and 131 of that total came last week against Grambling.

The line also has done a good job protecting the quarterback. The Braves have surrendered only one sack in their three games.

The Razorbacks are looking to start the season 4-1 for the first time since the 2011 campaign. That team went on to finish 11-2, beating Kansas State 29-16 in the Cotton Bowl.

Arkansas has won nine of its last 11 games. The Razorbacks are looking for their 150th win at War Memorial Stadium against 60 losses and four ties.

in this topic