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The SEC Media Days Mild Freak-Out: AJ Derby Still Getting QB Reps?

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To rage or not to rage?

Rich Schultz

Most of Arkansas' time at SEC Media Days went according to plan. No real shocking news. No taking the bait to rant about hurry-up spread offenses. Nothing outrageously offensive statements. Nothing that needed a quasi-apology.

But there was just one teeny-weeie itsie-bitsie little thing....

Before Bret Bielema made his way to the main stage to close the show on Wednesday, he went down Radio Row and appeared on the Bo Mattingly show. Mattingly asked him about Arkansas' quarterback situation beyond Brandon Allen. Bielema started off briefly discussing Austin Allen and Rafe Peavey as you'd expect - but then - sorry, it's hard to type this - he said AJ Derby would still be getting some reps at quarterback.

As you might imagine, this caught many off guard. There was a quick bit of outrage immediately on Twitter

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Why? RT <a href="https://twitter.com/NWARobbie">@NWARobbie</a>: A.J. Derby will continue to play tight end, but Bielema said he&#39;ll still get reps at quarterback.</p>&mdash; Doc Harper (@doc_harper) <a href="https://twitter.com/doc_harper/statuses/489476348478767105">July 16, 2014</a></blockquote>

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and Mattingly spent a significant part of the rest of his show discussing the topic.

The main reason so many panicked a little bit is because, in addition to play ranging from mediocre to awful, it seemed like his move in spring practice to tight end would be a perfect fit. The coaches seemed happy. Derby seemed happy. He was playing well enough in scrimmages and the spring game that people bought into the idea of him being a weapon at the position this year. Bielema even said in his main stage press conference that Derby could be one of the surprises of the season. So, yeah, it was sort of a shock.

It's led to plenty of perfectly legitimate questions. What does this mean for the quarterback depth chart? Are the coaches still so unimpressed with Austin and Peavey that they still want Derby to be the backup? Is this a guarantee that they plan on redshirting Peavey? Are these reps Bielema's referring to actually serious practice reps or special trick play packages? I mean, Derby might be a pretty decent passer for a tight end.

Those questions are why I'm holding off on freaking out. We should see how this plays out in fall camp before unnecessarily lose any sleep over this. If Derby does indeed take any meaningful snaps from Allen or Peavey, that's going to be hard to explain. Not only because you'd think this would be a great time to develop Allen and Peavey, but because we'd really like to see more of Derby at tight end.  He only had a couple of weeks of practice at the position in spring, and he was good enough that it's really intriguing to see what he can do with a full fall camp at tight end under his belt.

So let's just see how this plays out before we get too angry? We might need to save that for the season, after all.