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Coaches pleased with young quarterbacks

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By Nate Allen

Special to the News-Times

FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas redshirt freshman reserve quarterback Cole Kelley went into Wednesday’s closed practice with the second unit all to himself after sophomore reserve quarterback Ty Storey of Charleston alone quarterbacked the second unit during Tuesday’s practice.

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Dan Enos are trying to give Storey and Kelley opportunities to take command in the backup quarterback spot behind senior incumbent starter Austin Allen.

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 one of them has had a bad day.”

Bielema and Enos stress that Storey and Kelley, both good friends both assert with sincerity, must compete more with themselves than each other.

One quarterback completing a long bomb shouldn’t force 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 guys do,” said Enos, a Michigan State alum, noting he’s been there all his football life as a backup quarterback, starting quarterback and quarterbacks 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. In answer to your question, you can't do that.

“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 of course checking first on his defense and defensive backs, defensive coordinator/defensive backfield coach Paul Rhoads was asked his assessment of the backup quarterbacks practicing against his defenses.

“Certainly I am not in there with the tape and breaking them down,” Rhoads said.

“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 and I see them performing on a daily basis.”

Rhoads lavished praise on Austin Allen.

“We would have won a lot of football games with the way Austin Allen threw the football yesterday,” Rhoads said. “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.”

Bielema addressed recent injuries and recoveries.

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, who broke his foot in last year’s Alabama game before 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” and not unduly risk Greenlaw’s game availability until he’s ready.

Sophomore tight end Will Gragg has been cleared to practice since last week’s concussion, while junior college transfer receiver Brandon Martin (back) remains sidelined.

Before the Razorbacks’ closed practice Wednesday, Bielema already weathered an emotionally poles apart day.

Accompanied by his wife, Jen, Bielema celebrated the month birthday of Briella, unveiling her to Arkansas media for the first time at his morning practice, then in the afternoon, he eulogized 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,” Bielema said, laughing before took Jen 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 restaurateur with humor and heartfelt sincerity.

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