Quarterback Changes Highlight Hogs 2nd Spring Scrimmage

FAYETTEVILLE--Former backup quarterback A.J. Derby had a productive day at tight end in the Razorbacks' second public scrimmage of the spring. Derby caught two passes for 22 yards and a touchdown after dropping a wide open bomb from quarterback Brandon Allen early in the scrimmage.

"I think it's the first drop he's had in team situations," head coach Bret Bielema said of Derby's transition to tight end. "I mean he's just been catching everything. He's absolutely loving it."

Bielema revealed that Derby had to be talked into making the switch, telling reporters, "He didn't want to hear it last spring. He didn't want to hear it in the fall but now I don't think you could find a happier person on this earth than A.J Derby."

Redshirt freshman quarterback Damon "Duwop" Mitchell was also working at another position in the scrimmage but for now he's not exactly on board with a switch to wide receiver and punt returner.

"We know what players need at these positions but sometimes they just don't want to hear it," Bielema revealed. "Sometimes they're resistant to change. He's an incredibly explosive athlete. He's (Mitchell) very talented. On that one screen play he got hit by a couple of guys and he didn't go down."

Bielema admitted that if he can't convince Mitchell to make the move a transfer is possible.

"It's just a frame of mind," Bielema stressed. "If Duwop will wrap his arms around it I think it will work very well. If not, it's not going to work well. I'll help him go wherever he needs to go or whatever he wants to do but I just want him to have success and I think that's the part that he has to understand." 

The two changes at quarterback allowed red shirt freshman quarterback Austin Allen and true freshman Rafe Peavey to move up the depth chart. Austin Allen emerged from the scrimmage as the backup quarterback but not a lot separates him from Peavey according to Bielema who said, "If you were playing a game tomorrow Austin would have the edge just because he's said it, he's talked it, he's been in the huddle a little bit more. But Rafe's a football junkie. He's a kid that learns very well. He can throw the football. You can see that. I would say that's kind of a day by day thing."

Bielema also made it clear that neither of the freshmen are in a position to challenge Brandon Allen for the top spot at quarterback.

"B.A. is our number one quarterback," Bielema emphasized. "He has to compete against the rest of the SEC. There isn't anybody in our program right now that's at his level so we're really trying to stress him and make him understand that. We're going to have to keep him uncomfortable. I want to press him."

That "stress" included putting Allen in a series of 3rd and long situations with heavy pressure coming from the top defensive unit. Still, for the second scrimmage in a row, Allen completed a high percentage of his passes (17 of 25, 157 yards). He also tossed five touchdown passes after being held to just two in the first spring scrimmage.

Under new defensive coordinator Robb Smith stats from the other side of the ball continued to be impressive. In Saturday's scrimmage the defense recorded 10 quarterback sacks, 19 tackles for lost yardage, three interceptions and five passes broken up.

Bielema announced that week four of the spring campaign will be totally closed the the media and the public. The coaches and players will spend the week getting an early start preparing for the first two teams on the Hogs' schedule this fall, Auburn and Texas Tech.


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