Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A two-time graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
Hogs shuffle QBs
Arkansas quarterbacks (left to right) Brandon Allen, Austin Allen and Rafe Peavey warm up before the start of Saturday's football scrimmage at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE The number of Arkansas quarterbacks dropped from five to three this week, but the leader at the position hasn't changed — Brandon Allen is No. 1 for now.
The Razorbacks moved A.J. Derby to tight end and Damon Mitchell to wide receiver during practice this week. Both made catches during the team's second open scrimmage Saturday.
Derby, who started one game last season because of an injury to Allen and played the majority of another, caught an 8-yard scoring pass from Allen and dropped a would-be score in busted coverage Saturday. Mitchell caught a 28-yard screen pass, rushed twice for 10 yards and fielded punts.
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"I brought A.J. in Monday and asked him to try tight end for two weeks and see where it goes," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said. "He came out Tuesday and was incredible. Thursday was much of the same. Today when he dropped that pass, I think it was the first drop he has had in team situations.
"To say (Mitchell) has embraced a position change would not be correct. I think he's very adamant about staying at quarterback. I told him he could stay at quarterback if he wanted to, but I encouraged him to try wide receiver for two weeks and see where it goes."
Allen continued to lead the quarterback race this spring, completing 10 of 16 passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns during the scrimmage. He completed 6 of 10 passes in situational drills for three touchdowns but was intercepted twice.
Allen led the first offense to scores in two of their four drives during the non-situational portion of the scrimmage. His 8-yard pass to Derby capped a 13-play, 65-yard drive. His final pass of the day was a 20-yard touchdown to Kendrick Payne on a third-and-9.
"He's kind of separated himself from the time we had our last game through the time we had our first two weeks of practice," Bielema said. "I just really felt he has to compete against the rest of the SEC and there isn't anybody in our program right now that's at his level. We're really trying to stress to him and make him understand that. I want to really make him uncomfortable and continue to press him."
Austin Allen, the younger brother of the Razorbacks' returning starter, split time with Rafe Peavey on the second-team offense Saturday. The younger Allen completed 3 of 8 passes for 22 yards during the non-situational scrimmage, and Peavey completed 1 of 3 passes for 28 yards and was intercepted once.
"(Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney) really thought if we could get Austin and Rafe a lot of reps they could make a huge jump in the next few weeks," Bielema said.
Running backs Jonathan Williams and Kody Walker stood out during situational drills, rushing for a pair of touchdowns each. Alex Collins' 22-yard run helped set up a touchdown during the scrimmage.
Linebacker Brooks Ellis and cornerback Carroll Washington recorded interceptions during situational work, while Ellis also forced a fumble.
This story was syndicated by The Associated Press