FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas began its week of preparations for its game against Texas A&M still awaiting word on the availability of sophomore quarterback Brandon Allen, who did not play in the loss at Rutgers because of a shoulder injury.
The Razorbacks host the Aggies in Fayetteville on Saturday.
If Allen is not available again, coach Bret Bielema has confidence in Iowa transfer AJ Derby, who completed 14 of 26 passes and wasn’t intercepted in his starting debut.
Derby threw one touchdown pass as the Hogs built up a 24-7 lead before faltering.
“You can’t ask for a more tenuous task than to start on the road in an environment like we walked into on Saturday,” Bielema said when asked to rate Derby’s performance. “I don’t think he did anything that caused you great alarm.
“I know he could have maybe done a few things here or there, and there were some huddle things that he’s got to get straight. But for the most part I think he did very, very well.”
Bielema also expressed confidence in true freshman Austin Allen, who remains on the depth chart as Derby’s backup. Allen did not play at Rutgers.
“I have no hesitation putting Austin Allen in the game,” Bielema said. “He had a great week of preparation.
“If AJ didn’t play at a level that we thought he could be at, we would have made a switch. But there was no reason for us to change right now.
“We’re excited to see his growth this week.”
Notes: Junior LS Alan D’Appollonio was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week after his performance at Rutgers. He is the first long snapper to win such recognition since the conference began selecting a Special Teams Player of the week in 2002. D’Appollonio caught a 24-yard pass from P Sam Irwin-Hill to extend a drive that led to a field goal against the Scarlet Knights. … WR D’Arthur Cowan should be available this week after missing the first four games with a foot injury. … SS Rohan Gaines should be “full go” after playing just seven snaps against Rutgers because of a knee problem.