FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Despite a healthy position battle, Brandon Allen is still Arkansas' top quarterback this spring.
The redshirt junior ran exclusively with the Razorbacks' first-team offense Saturday in the team's first scrimmage of the spring. Allen completed 16 of 19 passes for 247 yards, threw one touchdown pass and was intercepted once.
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said Allen made strides physically and mentally this offseason and is ahead of younger brother Austin Allen and A.J. Derby at the position. The Razorbacks have five quarterbacks going through spring practice, including Rafe Peavey, a heralded prep star last season in Missouri.
''He looks different physically,'' second-year Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said. ''He plays different. He's got so much composure. What I love there, not that I wanted to see it, but when we had a couple guys jump offsides, he really let the huddle have an awareness of what we needed to do and what was expected. You like your quarterback to step up in that fashion and I think he's done it. ''
Allen, a native of Fayetteville and son of a former longtime UA assistant coach, struggled in his first season as a starter for the Razorbacks. He threw 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season while leading the SEC's worst pass offense during a 3-9 season.
''You can't replace experience,'' Bielema said, ''and to be able to say he started 11 games - although they obviously weren't results that we wanted - I think that dynamic of just being in the huddle, paying the consequences of wins and losses, success and failure, you just can't put a value on that.''
Allen led one of two touchdown drives for the offense during the 101-play scrimmage, throwing a 67-yard touchdown to tight end Hunter Henry. A.J. Derby led the other scoring drive and finished the day completing 8 of 13 passes for 146 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Austin Allen looked rattled by defensive pressure at times and finished the day 5 of 10 for 64 yards.
''I think that Austin is making progress every practice,'' Bielema said. ''He's a kid that I think flourishes in a game-like situation. He's got a nice arm. A.J. has experience on him, but I think that gap has definitely beginning to tighten and whether or not he's passed him, I'll leave that up to (offensive coordinator Jim) Chaney and have a discussion after our film.''
Reigning AP SEC freshman of the year Alex Collins carried the ball eight times for 38 yards, including a 25-yard run near the end of the scrimmage.