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Hogs Passing Game Alive and Well

His numbers weren't eye-popping but Brandon Allen's debut as the Razorbacks' full time starting quarterback answered a lot of questions.
FAYETTEVILLE--Two hundred and thirty yards passing for three touchdowns may not be Ryan Mallett-like numbers but on a day when Louisiana-Lafayette failed to stop the Razorbacks' ground game Brandon Allen showed plenty of firepower when he was asked to throw the ball.

The departure of big play receivers Cobi Hamilton and Chris Gragg, coupled with injuries to Demetrius Wilson and D'Arthur Cowan and a transfer to Cincinnati by Mekale McKay, left some Hog fans wondering if Allen would have anybody to throw to this season. Freshman tight end Hunter Henry answered that question by hauling in five catches for seventy-five yards in his debut as a Razorback in the 2013 season opener. Head coach Bret Bielema took the blame for a couple of rookie mistakes Henry made. 

Of Henry's fumbled reception and drop of a wide open toss from Allen, Bielema said, "I don't think it's fair for a freshman to come in and play as many reps as he did. He was dragging pretty good. We wore him out and obviously we've got to be smart about that." 

Journeyman receiver Javontee Herndon also stepped up big, grabbing two of Allen's scoring tosses, one of them on a forty-nine yard second quarter bomb which came on a busted route. "I really didn't run a route," Herndon admitted afterward with a sheepish grin. "I was confused  by the coverage so I just took off running and he just threw it up and I made a play on the ball."

Bielema liked the big play hookup between Allen and Herndon which put the Razorbacks up for good with 11:30 to go in the second quarter but he was more impressed with an eight-play, seventy-eight yard drive executed in just over two minutes at the end of the first half. Zach Hocker's thirty-four yard field goal sent Arkansas into the locker room up 20-7. 

"I think it was Keon (Hatcher) who shook a defender and got down there to set up that field goal," Allen recalled.  "We were definitely on the same page on a lot of the routes today. It's something we'd been working on since last spring. That's huge for us."

Hog fans expecting a big drop off in the quality of quarterback play after watching Allen get knocked around last year while Tyler Wilson was sitting out with a concussion, saw a different Brandon Allen to start the current season.

"If you want to go to the quarterback store and find the demeanor and personality of what you want, he's got it," Bielema said of Allen.  "He's very, very calm. Coaches, a lot of times we'll get volatile and he just handles the storm. Really, he hasn't shown me anything but complete composure."

"I'm very impressed with his quarterback skills that have nothing to do with throwing the football," Bielema continued. "He's got that demeanor and personality that are, I think, what makes championship quarterbacks."

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