FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Like many others in Arkansas, Dan Enos has liked what he’s seen from quarterback Austin Allen over the first three weeks of the season.
In particular, the Razorbacks’ offensive coordinator has enjoyed the emotion he’s seen on the sidelines from the first-year starter. Whether encouraging teammates or celebrating the 3-0 start by the No. 24 Arkansas, Allen’s personality has quickly endeared himself to teammates this season. His latest show of emotion came during last week’s 42-3 win over Texas State.
“He got a little feisty last week during the game, which I thought was really good, in a positive way,” Enos said. “You saw his competitiveness come out, and I think the more he plays, I think the more of that we’re going to see from him.”
Whatever emotional fuel Allen has used to start the season has worked and he is no longer a relative unknown across the Southeastern Conference.
The junior, who entered the season having only attempted 19 career passes, leads the SEC in passing efficiency after three weeks, just ahead of Mississippi’s Chad Kelly. For the season, Allen has completed 53 of 79 passes (67.1 percent) and thrown seven touchdowns along with two interceptions.
Over his last two games, including a double-overtime win at TCU two weeks ago, Allen has thrown five touchdowns with no interceptions.
Not bad for the kid who largely sat on the Arkansas bench over the last three seasons behind his older brother, Brandon.
“I’m just excited to watch him continue to grow,” Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said.
As big of a test as the TCU win was early in Austin Allen’s career, he’ll likely face an even more difficult one this week — when the Razorbacks once again travel to Texas to face No. 10 Texas A&M (3-0) in the annual Southwest Classic in AT&T Stadium near Dallas.
Arkansas has lost four straight games to the Aggies, including the last two years in overtime. However, the school has won 10 of 12 games since its last loss in the series, including nine of its last 10 overall.
“We’ve got a lot of older guys who have played a lot of SEC games, so they’ve been through it all and know what to expect,” Allen said. “We’re ready for it.”
Allen was at his best two weeks ago in Arkansas’ most difficult game so far this season against the Horned Frogs. He was 17-of-29 passing for 223 yards and three touchdowns in the win, but he was at his best late — leading the Razorbacks on a late game-tying drive and 2-point conversion and then running for a game-winning 5-yard touchdown.
It’s a performance that was once hoped for out of Allen at Arkansas, one that’s now almost expected and will be needed this week.
“I’ve just got to go in prepared like I have the first three weeks,” Allen said. “I know the speed of the game is going to pick up a little bit, but I’ll just do what I’ve always done and prepare and really leave no stone unturned in the preparation.”