A veritable dust storm of media folk rolled into the Razorback football team’s compound yesterday for the program’s annual media day. I was honored to attend, too, and enjoyed the chance to sit beside the Razorbacks’ top two quarterbacks. Here are some choice excerpts from what they had to share:
Starting Quarterback Brandon Allen
On what to expect from the new offense under Dan Enos
You can expect a lot. You can expect us to be a very balanced offense … the biggest thing we’ve worked on is not allowing teams to be able to stack the box against us and stop the run. We’ve done a lot and grew a lot as an offense … I don’t want to say spread people out but keep people on us really and just little tweaks here that are gonna allow us to get the ball in the perimeter, and not let teams knock it out and box us.
On his wide receivers:
You know I love the experience and Keon is really leading those guys and he’s even bringing that core receiving corp a long way. Hunter is the leader of those tight ends and you know they’re doing so much in making themselves better. They’re doing a lot from a fundamental standpoint getting releases, getting off coverage and they’re night and day from where they were last year.
On if Hunter Henry will play an even bigger role in the offense this year:
Absolutely – you know we’re doing so much with him. He’s such a mismatch for defenses with linebackers and corner backs … He’s such a mismatch and a weapon for us. So we’re gonna move him around we’re going to do certain different things with him, they’re going to feature him and give him the ball and the offense is all about getting the ball to the play maker.
On all the pre-season love Arkansas has been getting:
I look at it as an opportunity. I think I’m really just excited for the season and we’ve talked about as a team the pre-season accolades, the pre-season watch list, those really don’t mean anything to us. They really don’t. They’re nice to hear but the real thing we want is those pro-season accolades and the things we know that we can accomplish and get done.
On running behind one of the most hoss-ified offensive lines in SEC history:
Makes me feel nice it really does, you know I feel very protected, very at ease back there. Those guys take it hard on themselves whenever I get hit or anything and I think those guys really take pride in what they do. Whether that’s opening holes or protecting me, they love seeing success from this offense.
On handling the big pressure moments coming this fall:
I think that really comes from experience, being able to handle the moment, handle the big pressure situation and I think my experience goes a long way. We’ve got the personnel and we got the player skills to make the big plays. You know it’s just my job as quarterback to be able to put the ball in their hands.
On how much it matters whether the Hogs have a two-a-day or not this training camp:
It all comes down to how we practice. If we don’t practice the way we need to practice we may as well throw a two-a-day in there, but if we practice the way we should, get the work in we need to get done and do it at a high level, then there is no need for that two-a-day – and we can go about our business without having those two-a-days.
On whether he sees other teams also shedding two-a-days if the Hogs get off to a hot start:
They may. We’ll see how it works out it’s really for just keeping us fresh for the start of the season and throughout the season so no two-a-days may be the way to do it.”
Interested in reading similar interview takeaways from 20 other Hog coaches and players, including Dan Enos, Will Gragg and Dominique Reed? Get them all through BestOfArkansasSports.com’s interview roundups.
Quarterback Austin Allen
On getting some burn last year (his sophomore year):
That was a fun experience right there. I hadn’t played for two years going into that Ole Miss game. That was a lot of fun going in there and running the huddle and all that, and it was exciting for me.
On whether he’s feels his time to get major minutes is coming, as it was at Fayetteville High after his brother graduated:
A little bit. There’s a lot of competition and a lot of great quarterbacks here, a lot of new quarterbacks coming in. You always got to be prepared. I mean, you always got to work hard and always try not to get out-worked basically is the way I like to think about it, and that’s kind of what I’m trying to do… You got to be confident playing the quarterback position. That’s just kind of seeps through to the other teammates when you’re walking the huddle, when you have an aura of confidence, and you’re the calling the play.
On how the receivers and running backs look nowadays:
The practices in fall made me see how far Duwop [Mitchell] has come. He’s a freak show wide at receiver and now you’ve got Dominique Reed coming in, he broad jumped 11-11, he runs about a 4.27 40. Then you got consistent guys like Keon, he’s been amazing since the time I got here to where he is now, it’s unbelievable. He’s ready for a breakout year and he deserves all of it. All of the running backs just chuck it down to him to a two-yard throw, and they might run for 85, so there’s playmakers all over the place.
On why fans and players are optimistic for 2015 beyond the fact the team finished strong in 2014:
I think it’s just they see the improvement in the team from the first year to second year, and now our recruitment class has come in. There’s some big-time players that came in in that recruitment class, and there’s just how well Coach Herb got us all prepared, our bodies, to play in the SEC. That’s why I think we have the confidence, because it comes from the head coach and Coach Herb. It should be a good year.
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