A healthy Brandon Allen leading Arkansas’ quarterback battle

NCAA Football: Arkansas-Spring Game

When you look around the SEC, veteran quarterbacks are rare. Luckily for Arkansas, Brandon Allen is considered a veteran after starting 11 games last season.

This spring has seen a healthy Brandon Allen seize control of the quarterback battle, but how many actually thought Allen would be overtaken? AJ Derby is a nice fit as a backup, and Austin Allen and Rafe Peavey haven’t seen live bullets yet. So, it’s good news for Arkansas that Allen has seized control of the job.

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Allen had a big Saturday scrimmage, completing 16 of 19 passes for 247 yards, one touchdown and one interception. How much can you actually tell from scrimmages? Still, Bret Bielema liked what he saw from Allen – the experience and command – Saturday, according to WholeHogSports.

“He looks different physically,” said Bielema. “He plays different. He’s got so much composure. What I love there, not that I wanted to see it, but when we had a couple guys jump offsides, he really let the huddle have an awareness of what we needed to do and what was expected. You like your quarterback to step up in that fashion and I think he’s done it.

“You can’t replace experience,” Bielema said, “and to be able to say he started 11 games — although they obviously weren’t results that we wanted — I think that dynamic of just being in the huddle, paying the consequences of wins and losses, success and failure, you just can’t put a value on that.”

Allen was physically banged up last year from his shoulder to his leg, and he’s having a much better spring practice now that he’s healthy. Allen finished with 1,552 yards passing, 13 touchdowns and 10 INTs, but he completed less than 50 percent of his passes.

“Now it’s nice to be able to go out and sling it around like I did before. Just the fact I’m feeling better helps my game a lot,” Allen said in late March.

The bigger position battle has now become Brandon Allen’s backup. The two main contenders are last year’s backup AJ Derby and redshirt freshman Austin Allen. Derby is ahead of the younger Allen right now, but Bielema indicated after Saturday the race is starting to tighten up.

Photo Credit: Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

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