Hogs Sputter in 'Critical' Zone

The on-going quarterback competition continued during Arkansas; second spring scrimmage, but neither quarterback seemed to distance himself from the other based on their performance.

After a consistent week from the quarterback position during Arkansas' spring practice, both Tyler Wilson and Brandon Mitchell did not perform the way their coach may have liked.

Saturday's scrimmage lasted for a total of 196 plays and both the competing quarterbacks passed for a combined 49-of-80 for 661 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.

"We made a lot of improvement through the week," coach Bobby Petrino said. "Today we flunked the test in the so called redzone, or critical zone as we call it. I think we had three turnovers in the critical zone and that is something you cannot have."

Mitchell was coming off last Saturday's performance in which he outperformed the first-team Wilson in the statistical categories by passing for 310 yards and five touchdowns a week ago. Saturday however, the defense seemed to get the best of the Amite, La., native by forcing him into more interceptions than touchdowns.

"I think it was a good scrimmage, but not where we want to be," Mitchell said. "We want to be flawless and obviously being perfect is something that probably is not going to happen but you can try."

Coach Petrino said this could be caused by all the pressure he and the coaching staff are putting on their quarterbacks during the spring.

"We are really trying to put a lot of pressure on them; a lot of heat on them," Petrino said. "I am trying to fluster them and see how they react the next play."

"You just have to take the criticism from the coaching," Mitchell said. "He (Petrino) has a great heart and everything coach does is to get you better."

Wilson threw for a scrimmage-high 52 attempts, completing 34 of them but was once again the victim of another acrobatic Tramain Thomas one-handed interception. Wilson was able to pass for 422 yards, a bulk of which were to receiver Joe Adams.

"I thought we did a really good job of moving the ball," Wilson said. "I don't think there was a lack of moving the ball, but we struggled and didn't execute once we got down toward the red zone and that is something that we can't have."

Wilson, along with the rest of the first offense, was able to open the scrimmage with a scoring drive that was capped with a Ronnie Wingo rushing touchdown.

"From the first drive we have to stay consistent and can't get stopped on the second drive," Adams said.

Adams finished the scrimmage with 12 catches for 187 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Although Wilson did not have the day Petrino said he would like to have seen, he was impressed with the Greenwood, Ark., player's ability to respond to the pressure he was putting on him.

"I thought Tyler did a nice job of putting that aside and trying to focus on each play," Petrino said.

With all the mistakes that may have been made, the lengthy scrimmage gave enough film and repetitions to learn from which is a plus Petrino said.

"It will be great video to learn and study," Petrino said. "Everybody got a lot of reps and we got to get our overtime in so we can learn from that, but we still have a long ways to go as a team."

Caught up in all the statistics and individual performances of the two quarterbacks was the obscure fact that both Wilson and Mitchell were the recipients of their own passes. Early in the scrimmage both quarterbacks had a ball batted down at the line of scrimmage that was then caught by each of them.

"I heard that Brett Favre's first pass was one he ended up catching so there's that, but that's never what you want to happen as a quarterback," Wilson said. "Next time I will just bat it down so we can have a 2nd-and-10 and if you catch it, you have a bunch of defensive linemen there ready to hit you right in the chops. So I will bat it down and live to play another day."

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