AUBURN, Ala. — Hoping for tiny morsels of positive from this Arkansas football team, quarterback Brandon Allen served up a nice helping of the good stuff.

AUBURN, Ala. — Hoping for tiny morsels of positive from this Arkansas football team, quarterback Brandon Allen served up a nice helping of the good stuff.

The fixins’ to go along with Allen’s main course included the offensive line’s domination in the first half, the production of the running back triumvirate during the same period, and Demetrius Wilson’s work at wide receiver.

Maybe Auburn made those always vague "halftime adjustments," but Arkansas’ offense netted only 43 yards in the third quarter after cranking out 267 in the first 30 minutes. With three tight ends at times and some movement across the formation, the offense seemed to confuse Auburn in the first half. In the second half, the alignments seemed more compact.

Yes, I know the final was Auburn 45, Arkansas 21 and the idea is to outscore the opponent, but the Razorbacks’ toe-to-toe in the first half was encouraging, particularly with Auburn favored by 20 points.

That said, the defense, particularly the group responsible for pass coverage, yielded yards in giant chunks and the impression of Arkanas would have been more favorable if the game had not resumed after the 88-minute weather delay. Starting in place of Nick Marshall, sophomore Jeremy Johnson Auburn had pass completions of 14, 49, 19, 26, 62, 18, and 20 yards in the first half.

Johnson has a strong arm, but much like Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill vs. South Carolina on Thursday, all Johnson had to do on many occasions was play catch with the open man.

The disconcerting follow up is that Auburn is a run-first football team that has worked to improve its passing game while Texas Tech and A&M — upcoming swing games on Arkansas’ schedule — thrive on the pass.

The heads-up on doubts about Arkansas defense were underlined when the Razorbacks won the coin toss and elected to take the ball. The defensive highlight was a Brooks Ellis tackle that halted an Auburn possession after three touchdowns.

Watching Allen operate on Saturday, I am more convinced than ever that he will do just fine under center. That does not mean he will be the All-SEC quarterback; it means that a productive turnover-free quarterback gives Arkansas a chance to end an SEC losing streak that began in late October 2012.

A year removed from a sore arm and 10 interceptions, he did throw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and a 35-21 Auburn lead, but he got nothing on the throw because somebody missed a block. He was 15-of-22 for 152 yards through three quarters and would have had one more completion for 70 yards if Keon Hatcher had held onto a perfect throw behind everybody.

With less than two minutes to play in the first half, Allen threw an incompletion that is evidence of his refusal to take a risk in an attempt to make a big play.

On second down from the Arkansas 25, Allen checked Wilson on an out pattern, realized defensive back Derrick Moncrief could undercut the throw, and dumped the ball off. If he forces a pass and Moncrief intercepts, Auburn breaks the 21-21 tie that Arkansas forged after trailing by 14.

Allen also scrambled a couple of times, whether that’s because he’s healthy or because the coaches have confidence in his back-up, little brother Austin. Speaking of running the ball, Arkansas’ fastest running back, Korliss Marshall, made big gains inside which will make him more effective outside.

Two third-down failures prevented Arkansas from sustaining a couple of critical drives in the third quarter. Once, Wilson, who made an excellent adjustment to a ball thrown over the wrong shoulder in the first half and caught another one that was off target, couldn’t handle a pass to the sideline. His response was a two-handed slap to his own helmet. A fumble recovery gave Arkansas another chance at 28-21, but Alex Collins gave ground and lost six yards on third-and-4 at the Auburn 28.

Arkansas’ next possession ended with Jermaine Whitehead’s 33-yard interception return.

Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. Email: