FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said quarterback Brandon Allen did not practice Tuesday because of his injured shoulder, but the sophomore will be with the team when it travels to Rutgers this weekend.
Bielema, speaking on the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference, said he has included Allen on Arkansas’ travel squad for its first road game.
He said Allen’s shoulder is improving and hasn’t ruled him out of Saturday’s game, although signs continue to point toward backup AJ Derby starting for the Razorbacks.
“He's definitely gotten better. I know he was a lot better (Tuesday),” Bielema said. “We filled our roster for the trip that we sent to the airline today. He's definitely going with us. It'll just be a game-time decision. He hasn't been able to practice as of yet, but the good news is with this type of situation we've been able to get a lot of quality reps with our next quarterback, which would be AJ Derby, and then Austin Allen after that. So it'll be a work in progress to get to Saturday.
“If he can't go, the next man will be in and we'll take that challenge.”
Allen was injured in the first quarter against Southern Miss, diving into the end zone on a five-yard touchdown run. He left the field immediately after the injury and didn’t return to the sideline until the second half. Allen was wearing a black sling.
Bielema said Allen hasn’t broken anything in his shoulder, but declined to clarify the exact extent of the quarterback’s shoulder during Wednesday’s conference call.
“He definitely hurt his shoulder and it's his throwing arm, obviously. That's the concern,” Bielema said.
Bielema added Allen wouldn’t need extensive practice time this week to play against Rutgers. But Bielema won’t take any risks with Allen if the injury is lingering.
“He definitely is a guy that — he gets better with every practice, don't get me wrong — but I think he's a guy if you felt like Saturday he could roll, we'd go with him,” Bielema said. “But on the same account, he hasn't practiced yet. The one thing I don’t want to do is - this is a quarterback who’s a sophomore that I think has a very, very bright future. I loved the way AJ's handling practice and Austin, to be quite honest. Unless the doctors could guarantee me 100 percent that there's no risk whatsoever and BA could look me in the eye and tell me, 'Hey, I can guarantee you I can go coach' and he doesn't blink, that's the only way we could let him go.”
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau