FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Bret Bielema isn't ready quite yet to give up on the chance of quarterback Brandon Allen playing this weekend against Texas A&M.
That said, the Arkansas coach said Thursday that Allen remains questionable for the Razorbacks' game Saturday against the No. 10 Aggies (3-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference).
Allen, who earned the starting job in the preseason, injured his throwing shoulder two weeks ago against Southern Mississippi and missed last week's loss to Rutgers. The sophomore was replaced by junior-college transfer AJ Derby.
Bielema said Allen has practiced this week, but he has only thrown short-distance passes with a lighter football to practice his throwing motion.
"Every day, you kind of progress him a little bit and see where it's at," Bielema said. "Judging by where we're at today and where I see him being able to go, I would be optimistic about him playing, but it could probably go either way.
"I'm not going to put him in harm's way."
Without Allen, the Razorbacks (3-1) lost 28-24 to the Scarlet Knights last week — a game they led 24-7 in the second half. Derby, who spent last season in junior college after transferring from Iowa, was 14-of-26 passing for 137 yards.
Texas A&M beat Arkansas 58-10 last season, led by 557 yards of total offense from quarterback Johnny Manziel. The Razorbacks played that game with Tyler Wilson at quarterback.
Allen won the job in the spring after Wilson's departure to the NFL, and he completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 388 yards and five touchdowns before his first-quarter injury against Southern Mississippi.
However, he injured his shoulder while diving for a touchdown against the Golden Eagles and hasn't thrown a pass during practice since. Allen has taken part during the run portion of practices, but his only throwing has come with the team's trainer.
Bielema said Tuesday the injury was originally diagnosed as a 3-4 week injury, and that he's optimistic about Allen's chances of returning next week when the Razorbacks travel to Florida. He said if Allen is unable to play against Texas A&M — though he won't make a final determination until Saturday — Derby will once again serve as the starter with freshman Austin Allen, Brandon's younger brother, serving as the backup.
"Obviously, the only concern that I really have is that I think he's going to tell you that he can go a lot earlier than probably the doctors say he can go," Bielema said. "But they are just worried if there's anything that could become problematic if he took a hit or anything along that line."