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Hogs Spring Game Leaves Question Mark at QB.

Brandon Allen bounced back in the 3rd quarter but a miserable 1st half passing performance against the backup defense left many fans wondering just how much improvement Allen had made during the spring.
FAYETTEVILLE--Razorback football fans are crossing their fingers hoping that quarterback Brandon Allen's assessment of the Red team's offensive performance in the first half of Arkansas' annual spring game proves to be accurate this fall.

"It's not what we are. It's not what we're about," Allen told reporters referring to the 5 of 11 passing numbers he posted for just 21 yards with two interceptions in the first half against the team's number two defense.

Head coach Bret Bielema said the problem began with too many dropped passes, a familiar problem from a season ago but one that had supposedly been fixed this spring.

"In the first half I don't think they helped B.A. (Allen) at all," Bielema said of the receivers. "I don't care who you are or how long you've been here you're not going to play if you drop passes."

Bielema also indicated that the top offense was somewhat hampered by a limited use of the playbook during the game, telling reporters, "We did water down our offense. We didn't use all of it."

At halftime offensive coaches altered their game plan, moving Allen out of the pocket more and making greater use of play action passes. Those changes along with some tough talk from offensive coordinator Jim Chaney directed at Allen's offensive teammates allowed the junior quarterback to finish the game 12 of 21 for 108 yards and a touchdown. He retired to the bench after an impressive 3rd quarter effort.

"I didn't know how much we were going to play him in the second half," Bielema noted, "but at halftime I said, leave him in the entire third quarter and see where he can get and obviously he came back in rhythm."

Bielema also indicated that Allen's teammates supported him much better after the halftime break.

"The second half we realized that we were not really putting out what we we really needed," running back Johathan Williams admitted. "I do feel like we stepped it up in the second half. It's kind of hard to get up for a game when you've been playing against the same people over and over. We sort of played that way. But we came out in the second half with a lot more energy and you could see Brandon get it going."

Bielema stressed that Allen and his teammates were challenged by a pass defense that was much more aggressive than it was last fall.

"They're playing a lot tighter in coverage, they're using their hands better," Bielema asserted. "One dramatic change during the off season was in just getting our hands on receivers, re-routing them and challenging them at the line of scrimmage." 

The top defense had some eye popping stats going up against the backup offense including 9 sacks for 56 yards in losses,
two interceptions for 31 return yards and a touchdown and a returned fumble for 19 yards and a touchdown. However, safety Alan Turner was more interested in talking about the effort of the backup defense against the number one offense.

"We're real proud of those guys," Turner said with a smile. "We just tried to tell them, you're going against the one offense but you can easily become a one too. They played real physical and fast and they were making plays."

One player the number two defense didn't dominate was sophomore running back Korliss Marshall who displayed an astonishing burst of speed during a 59 yard, second quarter touchdown run. Marshall has been compared to former Razorback and current Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden by some. Marshall made it clear that he more closely identifies with another former University Arkansas running back who currently plays for the Houston Texans.

"One day he (Dennis Johnson) tweeted me on Twitter and said, 'You're starting to remind me of someone,' " Marshall revealed. "I watch his highlights every day, not technically to be like him but just to watch his techniques and movements."

Marshall lead all rushers in the spring game with 99 yards on 6 carries. Junior Jonathan Williams was right behind Marshall with 78 yards on 8 attempts. Alex Collins had just 14 yards on 4 carries but had a 23 yard second quarter carry called back after offensive tackle Dan Skipper was flagged for holding.

Bielema said he was so impressed with what he saw from the tailbacks in the spring game that might experiment by dropping the fullback from the team's offense this fall in order to add an extra tailback. "We didn't find a true fullback in the spring," Bielema noted. "So if it's two tailbacks in a game, that's something we will explore."

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