By Otis Kirk
Special to News-Times
He hasn't played since the third quarter of the South Carolina game, but it appears Austin Allen will finally get back on the field on Saturday.
Allen practiced on Tuesday and seemed pleased with how he did. He was among the players made available to the media on Tuesday following the Arkansas practice.
"It felt good being back out there with the guys going through practice," Allen said. "I mean I missed it."
It seems you have been on the brink the past couple of weeks. How frustrating has it been to not play?
"It's been frustrating," Allen said. "It's been a frustrating four weeks for myself, just going into treatment every day, trying to get this thing back right. All the work I've put in just being able to go back out there and throw it around and practice with the guys, it kind of gives you a new breath of football. You take it away for four weeks, you think it's gone and you get it back. I feel like a kid again out there."
As far as injuries, Cole Kelley, who has started the past four games, suffered a turf toe on Saturday. Bret Bielema said Monday he's in a walking boot, but that he expects him to play. Did you split the reps with him today?
"Cole's a little bit limited, but he looked good out there today," Allen said. "We'll continue to .. Coach (Dan) Enos will get the reps right tomorrow and Thursday, and whatever they decide on Saturday I'm going to roll with."
Allen and the Razorbacks will face LSU on Saturday at 11 a.m. CT in Baton Rouge. What have you seen from LSU on film?
"Good, athletic, big, fast, physical and there's a nastiness to their defense," Allen said. "You've got to come out physical and master physicality and if we do that good things will happen. They've got athletes all over the ball and they're a really good football team."
What does it take to beat LSU in Baton Rouge?
"They're a great football team, Alabama, Auburn, they're right up there," Allen said. "They've got athletes all over the place, well coached, know what to do, they're in the right spots. It comes down to going out there and executing on Saturday. We've got to play a great game, got to play physical and fast and we can't be intimidated in Death Valley."
In 2015, Arkansas went into Death Valley and took a 31-14 victory. Your brother was the quarterback on that team, but what do you remember about that game?
"That was a fun game for us," Allen said. "It just seemed like everything went right for us that game. Dominique Reed catching that little 5-yard hitch and taking it 80. The defense played well that game. We were just clicking on all cylinders as a team and hopefully we'll catch a little of that magic on Saturday."
Austin Cantrell was a versatile standout at Roland (Okla.) High School before coming to Arkansas. On Saturday, the Razorbacks used him at running back for three plays. He gained 13 yards on three carries including a 5-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. How did playing running back come about?
"I guess they just wanted somebody who was a little bit bigger," Cantrell said. "I really don't know what the plan was. I guess just get somebody a little bit bigger back there. They gave me some reps and I guess they liked it."
However, disaster nearly struck for Cantrell when he fumbled on the Coastal Carolina 1-yard line on Arkansas' game-winning drive. Right guard Johnny Gibson fell on the ball and then Kelley powered in for the touchdown on the next play. Connor Limpert then kicked the game-winning PAT. Who was happier you or Gibson when you saw he had recovered that fumble?
"Oh man, I thought I had just lost that game," Cantrell said. "I didn't know if I was ever gonna show my face here again."
Sophomore running back T.J. Hammonds raced for an 88-yard touchdown with 10:09 remaining in the game. That pulled the Hogs within six, 38-32. How big is it to have a Hammonds who can go for the distance at any time especially when one considers if that is a long drive maybe there isn't enough time left for the comeback?
"That is what you need," Cantrell said. "You need a big-time player to make big-time plays in those situations. Without him....I'm not gonna say. You know what I mean. We needed him that game. When he stepped up he earned that MVP."
Despite the season not going like anyone wanted or expected, but even at 2-5 you guys didn't quit. The past two weeks you have rallied from down 31-7 against Ole Miss and then 38-25 in the fourth quarter last week. What about the comebacks?
"Ole Miss, for me, I never had losing cross my mind in that game," Cantrell said. "I just knew we were gonna win and I think the whole team felt that way. We had a couple of lucky breaks and we stepped up and the defense definitely turned it around for sure. We played a hell of a second half.
"This last game we weren't playing good, but we worked out the kinks and got it."
While the defense didn't play that well on Saturday, how big was it when they got four stops in a row after you took a 39-38 lead to preserve the win?
"We've got guys that can step up," Cantrell said. "Not just necessarily just defensively, but the whole team. We've got guys who can do it. We show it sometimes, but we've got to get where we show it every day, every Saturday. Once we get there we're gonna be a really, really good team. It was huge, it won us the game."