Bielema: Battle for Backup QB Close

Late in spring, Austin Allen and Rafe Peavey were inserted with the first offense to see if there would be any separation in the race for the backup quarterback race.

Bret Bielema was hoping for some separation in the last two weeks of spring practice in the race for the backup quarterback spot between Austin Allen and Rafe Peavey. But it didn't happen.

That was one of the take aways Tuesday in the SEC teleconference for Western Division head coaches. Bielema was asked about the depth chart listing of Austin Allen and Rafe Peavey as co-backups.

"The last two weeks of spring drills, we tried to make a little push to give Austin and Rafe a little more time with the ones," Bielema said. "We knew Brandon (Allen) was doing well. That kinda left Ty (Storey) out a little bit.

"What we saw was that both Rafe and Austin did a good job with the ones. We had hoped there would be some separation, but they both did good."

If there had to be a decision to play one or the other today, Bielema said Austin Allen's game experience and success against Ole Miss would put him slightly ahead.

"But Rafe probably has the best arm, just at times it can be erratic," Bielema said. "We just continue to look for huddle composure with Rafe and it's improving."

Does that mean Storey is a likely redshirt?

"I never say anything about that until after the second week of fall camp," Bielema said. "I think what Ty did was very good. He continues to improve and battle for that (backup) spot."

Bielema's opening remarks dealt with an overall summary of spring drills. He said the Hogs stayed "relatively healthy." Among the highlights was the emergence of running back Kody Walker, given extra snaps with the ones with Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins held out.

"Obviously, we saw the continued development of Brandon Allen and the moves in the offensive line paid dividends in week five. But we saw that Kody could easily be a 1,000-yard rusher for our team."

Defensively, he said the overall look is not "flashy or sexy" but can get the job done. Progress in the front seven was a clear highlight. He was asked specifically about a highlight in the defensive line.

"One guy jumped out and that was JaMichael Winston," Bielema said. "At our heavy end, where you are out there with the tight end, he showed leadership starting in January and February. He uses his hands well, has good strength in the lower body. Also, DeMarcus Hodge made a nice move at nose and is ahead there, but Bijhon Jackson has done well, too. He shows some versatility to move out to the other tackle and you have Taiwan Johnson and Hjalte Froholdt there, too.

"We have some versatility at end, where you have Tevin Beanum, Deatrich Wise and Jeremiah Ledbetter at that rush end. Ledbetter had a nice spring.

"The biggest marked improvement we've had is with offensive and defensive line depth. In the D-line, we have eight, maybe 10 that we could use in a nice rotation for SEC games.

"You saw last year the emergence of Mississippi State and what they did with 1A and 1B in the defensive line was intriguing to me. You get two deep there especially in the front and you have something special."

Did Bielema sense a big difference between his team from this point in the year from 12 months ago?

"Without a doubt," he said. "We won three of the lat four and let one get away at Missouri. Then when we left the field after beating Texas, we had the feeling that we'd like to play some more.

"We had 11 players sign NFL contracts, but we have made a huge jump physically, with the way we look, with the way we handle our business."

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