Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema gives instruction to a group of offensive players during a preseason NCAA college football practice at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema blows his whistle to begin a preseason NCAA college football practice at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas — Austin Allen hoped he'd have the chance to at least back up his big brother at quarterback for Arkansas this season.
Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema said Saturday that the redshirt freshman has earned his shot — emerging as the team's No. 2 quarterback after two weeks of preseason practice.
Allen, the younger brother of starter Brandon Allen, was 10-of-21 passing for 86 yards and a touchdown in Arkansas' second preseason scrimmage on Saturday.
The performance was enough for Bielema, who a week earlier said the competition between Austin Allen and freshman Rafe Peavey was in "full throttle" to acknowledge Allen's advantage at a position that hampered the Razorbacks last season.
"I think Austin has declared himself, if there was a situation (and) unless something dramatically changes in the next two week, that he's our No. 2 quarterback," Bielema said.
Allen, who led Fayetteville to back-to-back championships in high school, redshirted last season while struggling to fully grasp Arkansas' offense and the speed of the college game.
However, he performed well in a scrimmage last week — finishing 16-of-19 passing for 170 yards — and continued to emerge this week leading into Arkansas' season opener at Auburn on Aug. 30.
Peavey was 5 of 9 through the air for 53 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's scrimmage, but Bielema was more comfortable with Allen's progress in his second year on campus.
"And don't get me wrong, I'm very excited about what Rafe is doing," Bielema said. "I think Rafe has got a very bright future here."
Former Iowa transfer AJ Derby filled in as the backup quarterback last season for the Razorbacks, but he struggled with inconsistency and moved to tight end during the offseason.
Arkansas won its first three games before Brandon Allen injured his throwing shoulder last season. He only missed one game with the injury, but he played the rest of the season while practicing only one day a week and receiving numbing shots. The Razorbacks lost their final nine games.
While the backup role appears to have been settled for now, Allen continued to flourish with the first team on Saturday. The junior finished 19-of-28 passing for 218 yards and three touchdowns, including a 53-yard pass early to tight end Jeremy Sprinkle.