Chaney coaches the quarterbacks, but he said he would let head coach Bret Bielema handle the questions when it came to announcing a starter at this point, or after spring. Chaney said Allen has been smoother, more accurate and with better decisions in the battle with Brandon Mitchell and A. J. Derby, the other top quarterbacks in the spring competition.
"Brandon Allen has been a little smoother the last two practices," Chaney said. "But it's not considerable."
Chaney admits reluctance at praising much about the offense until the last few practices, but thought there had been enough positives since Thursday's workout to step forward with some nice words.
"Up until now it's been tough for me to say anything positive about what we've been getting done in the passing game, but I felt like this past Saturday we went out and did some better things," Chaney said. "There actually were some plays that were recognizable, and we threw it and we caught it pretty well. We made a few explosive plays, and I was pleased with the development on Saturday.
"I think you follow that up today again, we went out — and the quarterbacks I'm speaking of mostly — are understanding the concepts a little bit better, knowing where to go with the football. So I'm pleased with what's gotten done there with the two Brandons and A.J., who has been getting some reps. They've been doing a pretty solid job, so I'm comfortable with where we're at a little bit better than I was the last time we spoke.
"So I'm more comfortable there. We continue to try to stay physical in the running game. I felt like we did some good things on that. We had a fumble last Saturday that I wasn't every pleased with, on an inside run, so we've got to continue to work on that. But all in all, the attitude is good and the kids are working hard."
Allen hooked up with senior wideout Javontee Herndon on three deep touchdown passes in one segment of the workout, then came back to him for another long completion. There was a fifth that was dropped by Herndon.
Chaney said it can be a struggle sometimes to complete the deep ball at any level.
"We had one drop, but that's a tough catch to make," Chaney said. "It takes a lot to throw and catch that play 50 yards down the field. We got a little closer to where we want to be there."
Allen said he's always been confident of that part of his game.
"I think I've always been accurate there," he said. "I always want to be on target with that one. We want to be able to do that when we get one-on-one and I think we've done that the last few practices.
"Javontee is a big part of that for us. He's got great speed and he's got great hands. He's not the only one, though. We have several who can make that play."
Wide receiver coach Michael Smith said it was just a matter of time until the deep game began to click.
"I think we knew we had that," Smith said. "But we had really been working on pounding the ball, running it in scrimmages. I think Saturday was a day where we really wanted to put in the pass, show it off. It's gratifying for a coach when the pupils put it together. I think we did.
"The play of the wide receiver and the quarterbacks go hand in hand. Both have to play well together. I think we played well as wide receivers and Brandon Allen put it there for us. He plays very well."
Allen laughed when someone mentioned that there were worries that the vertical game was disappearing with the arrival of Bret Bielema as head coach. He's known as a power running coach.
"I didn't think that," Allen said. "We still have that deep ball. I think running the ball actually helps the deep ball."
Tight ends coach Barry Lunney smiled, too.
"I don't think the vertical game has gone anywhere," he said. "Coach Chaney is a big believer in the deep ball. I think what you want is to get in a situation where defenses have to crowd you a little bit, then that opens up the deep pass a little more. I know that's what he believes. We've worked hard on the deep ball."
Smith said there had been too many drops early in spring, especially by Herndon. But that has gone away as the receivers have gotten more comfortable with routes.
"We jumped on Javontee a little bit earlier for a couple of drops," Smith said. "But he's a senior and he's come on. He understands what we are trying to do as well as anyone. As we get more comfortable with everything, I think it's only going to get better.
"We've worked on our run blocking, the power game. I think what you see is that we have wide receivers that understand a lot of the techniques in the passing game. (The previous) coach trained them well. I'm trying to give them some more things that I've picked up as far as technique."
As far as the quarterback battle, Chaney said the announcement on the starter wasn't a priority. He said he'd defer to Bielema.
"That's Coach's call," Chaney said. "He'll make that. My job is to get them all ready the best I possibly can using the reps that he's given me with them. I stay out of that. He'll pick that stating quarterback. He'll ask me my opinion and we'll move on.
"Right now I feel, like I said, we're a little bit smoother it appears with Brandon Allen, but not considerably, and statistically he might be a little bit ahead, but not considerably. I mean, there's no great separation in my opinion. But I will say that Brandon Allen's had back-to-back very solid practices."
Allen said he wasn't anxious about that decision. He said it will come when it comes.
"I think we are going to keep competing against each other, all of the quarterbacks, no matter when that decision comes," Allen said. "Right now, I'd say it's a good situation. Competition is good for everyone. And it'll keep going into the summer. We are going to all keep working for it. I don't think (an announcement) would change that. It's not something that we need to happen. We just are going to keep fighting for it.
"We are going to push each other in the weight room, meeting room and the practice field. That's not going to stop."
Chaney was asked about the progress at wide receiver. He said D'Arthur Cowan "did a few nice things" in Thursday's practice and then praised Demetrius Wilson, Julian Horton, Javontee Herndon and Keon Hatcher.
"I think the ones who have done well are the three seniors and Hatcher," he said. "Cowan has done a few nice things, but it's the typical freshman, two steps forward and one back."
Smith said sophomore MeKale McKay has also made progress after a slight muscle pull slowed him at the outset of spring.
"McKay has done good things and is running with the twos behind Wilson," Smith said. "We just want them all to be complete players. That's what we are working on. We have stressed pounding it and blocking and then when you have an opportunity to make a play, to step up.
"Right now, I think we have four solid wide receivers. We can go compete and win in the SEC with four at this point. We still want to find three or four more and get to where we can travel with eight."
Chaney fielded one question about Bielema's influence in featuring the tight end, something that was huge at Wisconsin.
" I would say the utilization of that position is going to be very prevalent in our offense," Chaney said. "I think it is today, it always will be.
"Coach loves that position, as do I. It's always been one of my favorite positions, and quite honestly I'm comfortable with the kids we have playing that spot right now. (Mitchell Lowen) was doing a lot of good things until he got injured, but he's coming back slowly. I don't know what his status is right now. Derek might have to speak to that. I'm not sure where he's at, but he did a little bit of things but not a lot today. We'll see. But I think that group as a whole is a solid group of kids."
As far as injuries, left tackle David Hurd is still out of practice.
"The Hurd kid getting hurt hasn't helped," Chaney said. "But with that comes opportunities. Like (Austin) Beck and (Chris) Stringer have had to step up and play. Real pleased with what Beck did. Beck goes in there and competes. This boy's a hard-nosed young man that ... it's so, so important to him. It just shows, and when he makes a mistake, he'd like to cut his own head off. He's one of those kids, so he's fun.
"And the development of the kids, it's been fine. It's right where we need to be. We continue to struggle blocking movements. But I think most offenses do at this stage of spring football. Are we different than most? No. But I think what's happening is they're understanding who Sam is and they're getting a grasp of how he's going to coach them."