Sophomore QB Brandon Allen first on Arkansas' depth chart
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- Brandon Allen took his latest step to becoming Arkansas' next starting quarterback when he was listed as the first-team signal caller on the team's post-spring practice depth chart.
New Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema released the depth chart on Monday, two days following the team's spring game - in which Allen was 11 of 16 passing for 158 yards and a touchdown.
The sophomore impressed Bielema throughout the team's first 15 practices under its new head coach, particularly over the past two weeks and during Saturday's Red-White game.
"Brandon Allen, really from the first week until the game that you say on Saturday, made progress all the way along,'' Bielema said.
Allen had been in a competition with senior Brandon Mitchell to become the Arkansas starting quarterback and replace Tyler Wilson under center. It's a competition that Mitchell doesn't think is finished, despite Monday's depth chart.
The 6-foot-4, 239-pound senior was 12 of 17 for 138 yards in the spring game, but he threw an interception in the red zone and nearly threw another earlier. The interception was a key issue for Bielema, who said he plans to talk with Mitchell later this week about the possibility of also seeing action at wide receiver.
"I'm a big believer that everybody on this team has a role,'' Bielema said. "I don't care if you're the second-string quarterback or the second-string snapper.
"I think at quarterback (Mitchell) has got some special gifts that we definitely can use or make better.''
Mitchell served as Wilson's backup two seasons ago, finishing 22 of 32 for 271 yards, but he moved to wide receiver last year in an attempt to earn more playing time. He moved back to quarterback after Bielema's hiring in December, and he wasn't quite ready to consider a return to receiver on Monday.
"I'm just focused on strictly quarterback,'' Mitchell said. "I don't even want to consider anything else right now. My mind's on quarterback.''
The 6-foot-3, 214-pound Allen emerged during preseason camp last year after redshirting as a freshman. The Fayetteville native earned the role of Wilson's backup, and he was 21 of 49 for 186 yards in limited action during the Razorbacks' disappointing 4-8 season.
Despite his early struggles, Allen took to new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney's offense more quickly than Mitchell. He was far from ready, however, to consider himself the starter on Monday - depth chart or not.
"Honestly, it's an honor, but nothing's really changed,'' Allen said. "I'm still going to be working my hardest, and I know (Mitchell) will be working his hardest.
"Us two pushing each other is just going to keep getting both of us better.''