Hogs: Backup QBs battle & perform well; more notes
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas Razorbacks redshirt freshman reserve quarterback Cole Kelley went into Wednesday’s closed practice with the second unit all to himself after sophomore QB Ty Storey (in photo above) of Charleston quarterbacked the second unit during Tuesday’s practice.
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Dan Enos are trying to give Storey and Kelley opportunities to take command in the backup QB spot behind senior starter Austin Allen of Fayetteville.
Saturday’s scrimmage will have a portion open to the public before Saturday afternoon’s Fan Appreciation Day.
Bielema and Enos said it’s been good that Storey and Kelley run even because they’ve been equally good.
“Coach B and I would feel a lot different if they were both bad, you know,” Enos said. “That hasn't been the case. It's been a case where they've both had some really good plays and some really good days. Neither has had a bad day.”
COMPETING WITH SELF
Bielema and Enos stress that Storey and Kelley, both good friends they assert with sincerity, must compete more with themselves than each other.
One QB completing a long pass shouldn’t press the other to force a long bomb in rebuttal, both coaches say.
“The worst thing you can do when you're in a competition is watch what the other guy does,” said Enos, a Michigan State alum who has been as a backup QB, starting QB and QB coach. “You can't worry about what they do. You can only worry about what you do. I tell them you don't control when you go in, but you do control what you do when you go in.
"Every play is different. If a guy hits a post for a touchdown, you can't force a post if it's not available. When you try to force a big play, you usually force a bad play.”
While checking first on his defense and defensive backs, defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads was asked his assessment of the backup QBs.
“I am not in there with the tape and breaking them down,” said Rhoads, the former head coach at Iowa State. “But my simple statement would be their play has elevated from the spring. I think competition is the mother of all learning, and they’ve got it at that position and two guys are battling hard.”
AUSTIN ALLEN IMPRESSES
Rhoads lavished praise on Allen.
“We would have won a lot of football games with the way Austin Allen threw the football yesterday,” Rhoads said Wednesday. “Man! He was on the money and threw a lot of balls that you couldn’t play as a defender. If he can play like that all season long, we’ll be in every ballgame because of it.”
Senior outside linebacker Karl Roesler is three days back from his hamstring injury and practicing first-team full go, Bielema said.
Junior first-team weakside linebacker Dre Greenlaw, breaking his foot in last year’s Alabama game and apparently breaking it again in last December’s Belk Bowl, is practicing far more than since last December’s injury, Bielema and Rhoads said.
Bielema still asserts the staff “will be smart” not unduly risk Greenlaw’s game availability until he’s ready.
Sophomore tight end Will Gragg of Dumas has been cleared to practice since last week’s concussion, while junior college transfer receiver Brandon Martin (back) remains sidelined.
BRET’S EMOTIONAL DAY
Before the Razorbacks’ closed practice Wednesday, Bielema already weathered an emotional day.
Accompanied by his wife Jen, Bielema celebrated the one month birthday of Briella, unveiling her to Arkansas media for the first time at his morning practice then in the afternoon eulogizing Pat Gazzola at an overflowing funeral requiring an auxiliary room at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fayetteville.
Bielema was teased in the morning that bringing Briella wasn’t going to prevent tough questions.
“Absolutely,” Bret Bielema said, laughing before Jen Bielema took Briella home. “I didn’t bring her as a buffer.”
A proud papa in the morning, Bielema in the afternoon appropriately and masterfully eulogized the Fayetteville and Alma restauranteur with humor and heartfelt sincerity.
A Fort Smith native who owned operated The Catfish Hole restaurants, Gazzola’s Fayetteville restaurant was the Friday night recruiting weekend dinner headquarters for the football Razorbacks but was used to feed into the recruiting of all Razorbacks sports.
Nearly the entire Arkansas coaching and administrative staffs appeared to attend, and former Razorbacks coaches Nolan Richardson, Ken Hatfield and Pat Foster were among the mourners.
Arkansas senior safety and captain Santos Ramirez worked at the Catfish Hole one summer as did former All-SEC Razorbacks and current Seattle Seahawks running back Alex Collins.
PULLEY’S PHYSIC HOTLINE
Upon seeing a mob of Razorbacks jam into an elevator Tuesday evening, junior cornerback Ryan Pulley, according to Bielema predicted, “'Y’all are going to get stuck.’ And that’s what happened.”
It took two hours for UA maintenance with members of the Fayetteville Fire Department standing by, to free a sweaty, increasingly claustrophobic horde of Hogs.