FAYETTEVILLE--A.J. Derby came down just short of the goal line but head coach Bret Bielema ruled his one-handed catch from Austin Allen a touchdown to end a Saturday practice which also marked the conclusion of week four of Razorback spring football. The play, which came against the number one defense, was clearly Allen's biggest moment of the spring.
"It was good to see Austin have some success in the two-minute part," Bielema noted. "B.A. (starting quarterback Brandon Allen) didn't have success in the two-minute segment there at the end but during the course of practice he threw some very good, accurate balls."
Brandon Allen finished the practice 16 of 24 passing for 178 yards, a touchdown and a pick. Austin Allen ended of 9 of 15 for 117 yards with a touchdown and a pick.
Derby actually came up with a couple of one-handed grabs, the first one in a 7 on 7 series earlier in the practice. Bielema called Derby's transition from quarterback to tight end, "seamless," while touting his pass catching and blocking abilities.
"It's amazing to me how well he catches the ball," Bielema raved. "It just absolutely blows my mind because that's not an easy thing to run full speed in traffic and catch it. But what he does in the running game, his wraps, his inside out, his pulls, his pass protection has literally changed our offense overnight."
The other quarterback making a position change in the spring also came up with a big catch. Damon "Duwop" Mitchell snagged a 21 yard pass from Austin Allen during the scrimmaging part of the practice. However, Bielema had revealed a week ago that Mitchell was not totally on board with idea of changing positions.
Saturday he indicated that some progress had been made with Mitchell on that issue, telling reporters, "I think it's getting better for him. I'm not saying he's doing cartwheels around the hallway quite yet but I think he realizes that he might be able to capitalize on that position and be good at it."
Sophomore-to-be running back Korliss Marshall was back at practice after being sidelined for a couple of weeks due to an undisclosed medical issue. Marshall quickly made up for lost time showing his speed on a couple of flashy carries.
"Korliss jumped back in on Tuesday," Bielema explained. "Tuesday was a freak show. He had a couple of runs that were off the charts. The thing I think about all the time, he's a kid that was offered really by one major school. That was us. The impact he's going to have not only this next year but in years ahead, he's an exceptional football player."
Week five of Arkansas spring football will conclude with the annual Red-White game. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.