Now that spring practice is over with in Fayetteville, it sounds like Arkansas coach Bret Bielema feels pretty comfortable about his No. 1 guy at quarterback.
"Brandon Allen, from the first week to the game on Saturday, made progress all the way along," Bielema said Monday. "The last two weeks have been exceptional."
Allen, who will be a redshirt sophomore this fall, was in a very tight competition with rising senior Brandon Mitchell, but appeared to make a sizable leap past Mitchell late in spring. During Saturday's spring game, Allen finished with 158 yards and a touchdown on 11 of 16 passing, while Mitchell was 12-of-17 for 138 yards with a one touchdown and an interception.
It seemed like Allen began the spring with a bit of an edge in the competition. He played in five games last year, starting one. He finished the season with 186 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. Mitchell played in eight games, but attempted only eight passes and primarily played receiver for the Razorbacks, catching 17 passes for 272 yards.
Allen wasn't perfect whenever he was in last year, but he made real strides this spring in the decision-making department. That's what really set Allen apart later in the spring, Bielema said.
"The one thing that we can’t do is we can’t turn the football over," Bielema said. "We can’t create negative plays on our own, and I think Brandon Allen did a better job of that and has progressed in a way to put him in that position.”
Mitchell might have left spring behind Allen in the quarterback race, but he still brings more athleticism to the table. He'll probably still have plenty of opportunities to make plays from the quarterback spot, and could be moved back to receiver or around the field in order to get his agility and speed on offense in some way.
"With Brandon Mitchell at quarterback, he definitely has some special gifts that we can use," Bielema said. "If there’s another role, another position we can use him at, we’ll work together on that.”
Neither player has a tremendous amount of experience, considering Tyler Wilson was on campus, but having two guys who can do different things is a good problem for the Hogs. It should be interesting to see both players on the field at the same time in certain packages this fall.