Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney can tell quarterback Brandon Allen is getting excited as prepares to open the season under center for the Razorbacks.
The veteran coach had a confession Tuesday: He’s eager for the debut, too.
"I’ve got that little kiddie inside me too," Chaney said. "I’m excited about watching him play. He’s worked his butt off and I’m excited to watch him do it."
Allen — who has been labeled one of Arkansas’ most improved players since spring practice — will get his chance to show how much he has grown when the Razorbacks play Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday at 3 p.m.
It won’t be the first start of the sophomore’s career. He was under center when Tyler Wilson was out with a concussion in the 52-0 loss to Alabama last season. But there’s no doubt opening the year as the offense’s leader has a different feel.
"I know what we’re doing on offense," said Allen, when asked if he was feeling any nerves about the opener. "I know the game plan and just that amount of preparation is going to make me calm. I don’t have any anxiety. A lot of excitement, that’s for sure. I’m really pumped about getting out there and playing football again."
Allen has appeared in five games last season, completing 21 of 49 passes for 186 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. But he is more prepared now.
The Fayetteville native was asked if he anticipated a learning curve because of the inexperience. Allen said Arkansas was "past the learning curve" as an offense.
"Obviously, I have high expectations for our team, and the things that I know we can do," Allen said. "Now it’s all about coming out and showing it."
Chaney is confident Allen will succeed.
He said the key for the quarterback is to do "what we ask him to do."
"We’re not expecting him to be Superman," Chaney said. "Just to do his job at his position. He’s understanding that as the days go by and he’s getting better and better at that. Like I said, I love the kid. I’m just excited about coaching him. It’s going to be fun to watch him play."
Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith knows quarterback Terrance Broadway can be a handful for opponents. The senior once was Broadway’s teammate during a high school all-star game in South Carolina.
"I don’t know if he remembers me, but I remember him," Smith said. "I already knew his athletic ability since high school. So we’ve got to keep an eye out on him."
Smith led Arkansas in sacks last season (9 ½) and enters the year as a preseason first-team All-SEC pick. So he’s planning to get acquainted with Smith once again.
"I’m going to get after him," Smith said. "I’m going to let him know I’m there."
Chaney said it was pretty clear game week preparation began Tuesday.
"I sensed a quieter calm today amongst the kids. They’re really driven," Chaney said. "They’re practicing with good purpose early on. I thought we got a little sloppy late, but they were really driven (Tuesday)."
Arkansas was back on the field after having much of the past three days off. The Razorbacks held a light workout Sunday, but didn’t practice Saturday or Monday.
Running back Jonathan Williams said players felt fresh Tuesday.
"You could tell we had a couple days off," Williams said. "A lot of people had energy and people were running around and flying around and making plays that late in camp they weren’t really making because they were so tired."
Chaney on Lunney
Arkansas tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. will be in the coaches’ box with Chaney on Saturday. Chaney said he’ll lean plenty on Lunney Jr., the former Arkansas quarterback who will be working his first game as a Razorbacks assistant.
"In the box he’s going to be watching a lot of things for me and help me with my eyes when I’m following the football," Chaney said. "He’s got to have the disciplined eyes to see the things that I’m not looking at. And I trust him implicitly with everything I ask him to do and expect him to do a fantastic job in the box."