FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — There is no doubt — barring injury, of course — about who will line up behind center when Arkansas opens its 2016 season Sept. 3 at home against Louisiana Tech.
That job was won in the spring by junior Austin Allen. What remains to be seen, though, is who will emerge as Allen’s backup.
That’s a priority for the Hogs as they continue through fall camp. Arkansas did not practice Sunday, but held its local media day inside the Fred W. Smith Football Center.
“We’re gonna have to start narrowing down sooner than later on who’s getting reps besides Austin and see where that goes,” Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said during his Sunday news conference.
Sophomore Rafe Peavey appeared to be the second-best option during the spring, and although he had a minor back surgery this summer, he is back at full strength and practicing.
Other options include redshirt freshmen Ty Storey and Ricky Town and even true freshman Cole Kelley, who just wrapped up his first summer in Fayetteville and only has three college practices under his belt.
“We try to keep it as friendly as possible,” Town said. “I mean, we all want to be the starter, but we all learn from each other’s mistakes and what we do well and stuff. It’s a good brotherhood.”
Despite this being Town’s second year on Arkansas’ campus, it’s actually his first fall camp. The former four-star prospect enrolled at USC during the spring of 2015, but left the Trojans during their fall camp a few months later and wound up at Arkansas.
Bielema spoke briefly about his quarterbacks during the news conference. Here’s a look at what he had to say about each of them.
Bielema on Austin Allen
“Austin is really, just through three practices, got better every day. Statistically … at first his skelly numbers were real high but his team numbers weren’t. Yesterday, his numbers for both were both almost 80 percent in skelly and in team. Really like where he’s going. There’s just certain things he’s gotta continue to do. We can’t give him enough reps.
“There was a play the second day where there was a player bust, and he was supposed to have a player in the flat, and he went over there and all of a sudden that answer wasn’t there that he was looking for and he kinda froze up. Well we can’t freeze on the football field. You’ve gotta play.
“He just hadn’t been put in that position so as coaches, we take every teaching moment we can to teach it to him.”
Bielema on Rafe Peavey
“Rafe had a procedure that limited him a little bit coming into fall camp, but he’s come back healthy. I thought he threw the ball really really well yesterday. He’s conscientious. His attention to detail is high. I know he wants to be successful, so I think to say that he’s come a long way since last fall I think would be an understatement. I really like what he’s doing.”
Bielema on Ty Storey
“Ty Storey, as far as student of the game, all the coaching points, all the things that you want someone to be, his competitive nature, his spirit, his personality, his leadership skills are all there. He probably just needs to throw the ball a little bit more, just continue to rep it and have the velocity and touch and speed on it. He’s made some really good throws that show you obviously that it’s there potentially.”
Bielema on Ricky Town
“Ricky Town, it’s kinda been a tale of two cities. I think a year ago coming in, he’s a kid from USC trying to find his way, and now he’s a Razorback that’s found his way. He understands what’s expected of him, throws a nice ball. Probably tries to predetermine a little too much, but by the same account, he’s playing as well as he’s played since he’s been here. I think the kids understand and appreciate him a little bit more so now than ever.”
Bielema on Cole Kelley
“Cole Kelley, other than just standing out when you’re 6-7 or whatever … the kids like to give him a hard time. He took off running the other day and the kids all reacted. He’s got a following on the team that’s pretty fun to watch. He’s still gotta continue to work the basics.
“He’s got a tendency to just try to strong arm the ball rather than using those feet, those legs to drive the ball where it needs to be. Again, probably has thrown a couple balls that you can get away with in high school that you can’t at this level. He’s just gotta learn those processes.”