A statistical breakdown of Austin Allen's first outing as Hogs' signal caller.
FAYETTEVILLE — "Average."
Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos said that about Austin Allen's day. The standard numbers reflect it. The deep ones do, too. But that second set of statistics is more telling about what may work for the Razorbacks' first-year starting quarterback going forward.
First, the ordinary statistics. Allen went 20 for 29 for 191 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Acceptable. Plain. A little high on turnovers, but otherwise a good completion percentage. What those numbers don't say, however, is how things came about.
Allen's quarterback success rate was below the median. Just one piece of an overall puzzle, QB Success Rate is determined by measuring percentage of drop-backs that end successfully. A successful drop-back includes throws for first downs or a gain of half the yardage to-go on first or second down. An unsuccessful drop-back includes a failed third down conversion, an incompletion, sack, interception or failure to gain half the yardage on first or second down.
There were times Saturday Allen was on. He threw passes on nine of the Razorbacks' drives and had a positive success rate on three of them. He was 50/50 on another two. That leaves four drives in which, whether by fault of his own or others, Allen's play was more detriment than help.
"I thought that he played really, really well at times, and I thought a couple times... you know, one of our keys to victory for him was to play within himself, and I think a couple times he didn't do that, meaning I thought he kind of invented some things that were going on out there that weren't really going on," Enos said.
Take, for example the Arkansas drive ending with his touchdown throw to Jared Cornelius. Allen's series was mixed.
He completed a first-down throw to Austin Cantrell for five yards and a six-yard throw to Dominique Reed for a first down. Both are positive plays. Two straight incompletions and a failed third-down to conversion - when his throw out to Drew Morgan went for just three yards, were unsuccessful. Then he capped the drive with a first-down toss to Keon Hatcher for 18 yards and the 13-yard score to Cornelius.
Up-and-down, but a drive that ends with a score would likely be termed by most as a positive. Makes sense, Allen had four positive plays and three negative plays on the drive.
It's easier to spot over the next four drives. Allen threw a red-zone interception trying to force a ball into Morgan. He failed a third-down conversion when Rawleigh Williams III gained two yards on a shovel pass. Allen was sacked twice and hit Williams on a screen for a loss of three. Then the drive before the game-winning toss to Jeremy Sprinkle, Allen had two incompletions, one to Hatcher and one to Hayden Johnson.
Seven straight drop-backs were unsuccessful. It isn't a coincidence it was during that time Louisiana Tech took the lead.
Where Allen found his greatest measure of success was on deep drops. That might seem odd, considering the Arkansas offensive line gave up four sacks — or sacks on 8.5 percent of Allen's drop-backs.
And therein lies the rub.
Allen was 8 for 8 for 81 yards and two touchdowns on seven-step drop-backs. He found six different receivers on those eight completions. Thing is, he was also sacked three times such plays. On five-step drops, the next longest, he was 4 for 5 for 57 yards.
That could be part of why coach Bret Bielema said he was actually OK with what his offensive line did Saturday. And that was even after watching film.
"I don't think there's much to be fixed," Bielema said. "I'm excited where they're at and think they'll have huge improvements game one to game two. I was pretty pumped on Sunday when we watched the film actually."
It was those quick-decision type throws were where Allen struggled. He pump-faked several times on different plays and went a combined 8 for 16 for 53 yards with two interceptions and a sack on drop-backs that were three steps or fewer.
Enos did not have his first-year starter take many chances, either. Only three times did Allen throw the ball downfield more than 20 yards, including the yardage back to the line of scrimmage after his drop back. And one of them didn't count.
The first time Allen chucked it the result was an interception when he tried to connect with Jared Cornelius on the first drive. He did hit Drew Morgan for an 18-yard gain on the drive in the second half that ultimately ended with another interception. That was it, though. The longest pass he had the rest of the game was 15 yards to Hatcher on a 2nd-and-13 on the game-winning drive.
As for formations, Allen was most comfortable when he had a pair of safety valves. He went 7 of 8 for 81 yards and both touchdowns when Arkansas played two tight end sets.
All together, "average" about summed it up.