10 big questions: Who is the backup QB?

By: Jimmy Carter
Published: Monday, July 17, 2017
Arkansas redshirt freshman quarterback Cole Kelley during practice Saturday, April 8, 2017.
Photo by Jason Ivester
Arkansas redshirt freshman quarterback Cole Kelley during practice Saturday, April 8, 2017.

This is the first in a series of 10 questions facing Arkansas football headed into fall camp, which begins July 27.

Spring practice ended with sophomore Ty Storey and redshirt freshman Cole Kelley still entrenched in a competition to back up senior quarterback Austin Allen.

Both players had their moments in the spring, but each also struggled at times and neither was able to create enough separation to secure the gig. It also isn’t a surprise the coaching staff made it a point not to favor one over the other. Competing over the course of the summer and into fall camp can only help both players.

In terms of raw talent, Kelley may have the most of any quarterback on campus. The physical gifts he possesses at 6-foot-7, 258 pounds with a huge arm allowed him to produce more ‘wow’ moments than Storey in spring practice. He can put a ball on a rope 40 yards down field.

But his arm strength can also get him into trouble. He is still learning he doesn’t have to throw his fastball every time and will get himself into trouble trying to fit passes into tight spaces. He was unofficially 9 of 18 for 135 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the Razorbacks’ pair of full-scale scrimmages. Cornerback Ryan Pulley also had a pick-six against Kelley in the final spring practice.

Storey doesn’t have the arm Kelley does, but he has been on campus longer and was Allen’s backup a year ago.

The 6-2, 212-pound Charleston native was 14 of 24 for 153 yards in the same spring scrimmages. He did struggle to get rid of the ball against the first-team defense in the final spring practice, resulting in a number of plays being blown dead.

Storey is more consistent at this point, but Kelley’s highs are higher. He has more upside and the coaching staff, particularly offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dan Enos, rave about his leadership qualities and huddle command.

Kelley feels like the favorite to eventually win the backup job because of sheer talent, but his inconsistency and inexperience coupled with Storey’s solid spring means Kelley will have to earn it in August.

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