- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
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“Sit back and relax because it isn’t going to change,” Bielema said last week at SEC media days.
Not much ambiguity there.
It’s Bielema’s job to sound confident in his quarterback. It’s not his style to waver, either.
But Bielema will have to understand why others might be hesitant to see a Brandon Allen sequel in 2014. As a redshirt sophomore, he threw 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season. His completion percentage was below 50 percent and his adjusted QBR (58.5) didn’t rank among the top 60 college quarterbacks. Arkansas lost its final nine games and Allen was the face most associated with the team's failures.
So why bring him back? Well, there’s two answers to that question: 1) Coaches and teammates believe he’s improved; and 2) There’s no one else who is ready to take the job from him.
“I’ve seen a big difference in B.A.,” Arkansas safety Alan Turner said. “It was tough. He was younger last year. It was his first time playing, and then he got hurt.
“But from that time to now he’s gotten more confidence, he’s being a great leader and his reads are coming faster. He’s getting rid of the ball quicker. I believe he’s gotten way better. If he can keep taking strides further, he’ll be good for us.”
The question is whether his best is good enough. For now it has to be.
Rafe Peavey, Arkansas’ quarterback of the future, simply isn’t there yet. The former four-star prospect has all the tools you look for -- 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds with good quickness and accuracy -- but he’s lacking in the one department that matters most in college football: experience.
“As a coach, you realize what certain players can bring,” Bielema said. “Rafe’s a freshman. I understand certain freshmen are able to play. I’ve had freshmen come in and do some really good things, but he’s not there. That’s not to say he can’t continue to get there with continued work and perseverance, but there isn’t anyone who is even close to what B.A. will bring Day 1 from that first game against Auburn.”
Anyone hoping for something different is betting on a long shot.
“Unless someone reinvents who they are for those four weeks of preseason practice, B.A. is the guy, hands down,” Bielema said.
4dSam Khan and Greg Ostendorf