Allen's career day leads Hogs past UTEP

Allen's career day leads Hogs past UTEP

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Allen's career day leads Hogs past UTEP

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FAYETTEVILLE — Brandon Allen wanted to leave a lasting first impression on new Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos.

Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Brandon Allen (10) prepares to pass during a football game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the UTEP Miners on Saturday, September 5, 2015 at the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Arkansas won the game 48-13.

Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Brandon Allen (10) prepares to pass during a football game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the UTEP Miners on Saturday, September 5, 2015 at the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Arkansas won the game 48-13.

The senior quarterback did that while going a long way to showing he’s up to leading a talent-rich group of Razorbacks loaded with expectations for the first time in his career as the starter.

With Enos calling the plays for the first time since leaving his job as head coach at Central Michigan, Allen was at his best — and most efficient — in leading No. 18 Arkansas to a 48-13 win over UTEP in the season opener on Saturday.

(Allen) just had a control and a presence out there. I thought he was in control the entire time.
Bret Bielema, Arkansas head coach on performance by Brandon Allen

Allen threw for a career-high 308 yards and matched his best with four touchdown passes, doing so while completing 14 of 18 passes.

“It went well,” Allen said. “It was different with (Enos) being on the sideline, but I thought it went really well.”

Arkansas won only three games two years ago in Allen’s first season as the starter, though it improved to 7-6 a year ago. However, the Razorbacks enter this season ranked for the first time since 2012, and Allen thrived on Saturday with a restocked roster surrounding him to open coach Bret Bielema’s third season.

Arkansas UTEP Stats

Keon Hatcher caught two of Allen’s touchdown passes, finishing with six catches for 106 yards, but it was Allen who shined the brightest while extending his streak of pass attempts without an interception to 108.

That’s the second-best streak of his career, following a stretch of 116 passes without an interception last season.

“(Allen) just had a control and a presence out there,” Bielema said. “I thought he was in control the entire time.”

Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Keon Hatcher (4) with a touchdown catch during a football game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the UTEP Miners on Saturday, September 5, 2015 at the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Arkansas won the game 48-13.

Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Keon Hatcher (4) with a touchdown catch during a football game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the UTEP Miners on Saturday, September 5, 2015 at the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Arkansas won the game 48-13.

Aaron Jones led the Miners with 15 carries for 70 yards rushing, but UTEP was unable to overcome a series of second-half miscues in the blowout loss.

The Miners were outgained 490-204 in total yardage, with quarterback Mack Leftwich finishing 9-of-14 passing for 120 yards. The sophomore, however, opened the second half by throwing an interception, and UTEP’s next two drives ended with poor snaps on punt attempts, leading to quality field position for Arkansas.

“We gave our defense two short fields,” UTEP coach Sean Kugler said. “… I thought we fought, I thought we were outmanned, but it wasn’t from a lack of effort, and it wasn’t from a lack of fighting.”

Following the interception and first of the bad snaps, Arkansas needed only two plays to score a pair of touchdowns to open the second half.

Alex Collins, who finished with 127 yards rushing on 12 carries, had the first from 7 yards out, while Kody Walker ran in from 3 yards out to put the Razorbacks up 42-10.

Arkansas Razorbacks running back Alex Collins (3) runs with the ball during a football game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the UTEP Miners on Saturday, September 5, 2015 at the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Arkansas won the game 48-13.

Arkansas Razorbacks running back Alex Collins (3) runs with the ball during a football game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the UTEP Miners on Saturday, September 5, 2015 at the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Arkansas won the game 48-13.

It was the play of Allen, though, that set the tone early as the Razorbacks built a 28-10 halftime lead.

The senior threw for touchdowns on each of Arkansas’ first four drives of the game, including a perfectly placed 38-yard touchdown pass to Hatcher late in the second quarter. He also connected with Drew Morgan and Jared Cornelius for scores during the half, in which he finished 10-of-13 passing for 256 yards.

Allen’s previous career best was 296 yards passing against Georgia last season, and he also had four touchdowns against Nicholls State a year ago.

He nearly bested both of those in the first half of his first game under Enos’ watch.

“That was incredible watching him today,” Arkansas linebacker Brooks Ellis said. “He was doing a great job. It’s fun being on the sideline so long because they’re moving the ball down the field and just getting big play after big play.”

SEC STANDINGS

EAST: SEC, All

Florida 0-0, 1-0

Georgia 0-0, 1-0

Kentucky 0-0, 1-0

Missouri 0-0, 1-0

So. Carolina 0-0, 1-0

Tennessee 0-0, 1-0

Vanderbilt 0-0, 0-1

WEST: SEC, All

Alabama 0-0, 1-0

Arkansas 0-0, 1-0

Auburn 0-0, 1-0

Miss. State 0-0, 1-0

Ole Miss 0-0, 1-0

Texas A&M 0-0, 1-0

LSU 0-0, 0-0

Week 1 Schedule

Thursday’s Scores

South Carolina 17, North Carolina 13

Western Kentucky 14, Vanderbilt 12

Saturday’s Scores

Georgia 51, UL Monroe 14

Ole Miss 76, UT Martin 3

Auburn 31, Louisville 24

Arkansas 48, UTEP 13

Missouri 34, SE Missouri St. 3

Tennessee 59, Bowling Green 30

Texas A&M 38, Arizona State 17

Kentucky 40, La.-Lafayette 33

McNeese St. at LSU, canceled lightning

Florida 61, New Mexico St. 13

Alabama 35, Wisconsin 17

Mississippi St. 34, Southern Miss 16

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