FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Brandon Allen has spent much of the offseason trying to rid himself of the ghosts of Little Rock.
The Arkansas quarterback will have the opportunity to make amends for one of the most difficult games of his career — a shocking overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe last season — when the Razorbacks (1-0) host Samford on Saturday.
Allen was solid in his debut as the full-time Arkansas starter last week in a win over Louisiana-Lafayette, finishing 15-of-22 passing for 230 yards and three touchdowns. The sophomore was in control from the start, throwing for 193 yards in the first half, and guided a Razorbacks offense that tallied 522 total yards.
The effort was a far cry from the last time he took the field in Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium. That came during the second half of the season-changing loss last season to Louisiana-Monroe, when Allen filled in for an injured Tyler Wilson. Allen was 6-of-20 passing in that game for 85 yards, feeling helpless and overwhelmed as the Warhawks rallied from 28-7 down in the second half to win 34-31 in overtime.
It's a performance and loss he's heard about throughout the offseason while prepping to take over for Wilson, and he's counting on Saturday's game against the Championship Series Bulldogs (1-0) to put last year behind him once and for all.
"I think we left a bad taste in our mouth the last time we were in Little Rock," Allen said. "We're looking to make that better. I know we're focused. I know we're ready."
Five things to watch as Arkansas looks to snap its recent woes in Little Rock against the Bulldogs:
RUNNING WILD: Williams and Collins provided Razorbacks fans with flashbacks to the days of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones with their performances last week, becoming the first duo since the former greats to top the 100-yard mark in the same game. Williams, a sophomore, had 151 yards on 18 carries, while the freshman, Collins, finished with 131 yards rushing on 21 attempts. Bielema promised a balanced approach when he arrived at Arkansas, and he appears to have found that balance with Williams and Collins — who are eager to prove their first-game success was no fluke.
HOME COOKING?: New Arkansas coach Bret Bielema wasn't around for last season's disaster in Little Rock, which was followed later in the season by a loss to Mississippi. The former Wisconsin coach did, however, cause a bit of a stir this week with the central Arkansas fanbase when he said the Razorbacks treat trips to War Memorial Stadium as a road game because of the travel involved. To help with the travel, Arkansas will fly home to Fayetteville after Saturday's game — easing the concerns of Bielema, who will likely be warmly embraced in Little Rock after the season-opening win.