But Wilson probably added some data to his case. And Brandon Mitchell did just the opposite.
Wilson's White team -- with Petrino calling the plays -- earned a 45-14 victory before an estimated crowd of 42,000 (and ESPN's first team national crew) at Reynolds Razorback Stadium on a perfect afternoon. Wilson found Jarius Wright for three catches for 122 yards as the White rolled up a 28-0 lead in the first quarter.
Mitchell contributed to that with two interceptions, both impacting the score. Senior safety Tramain Thomas gobbled up one ill advised throw at the 2-yard line on a post route. Sophomore Darrell Smith, the other safety, returned another Mitchell interception 40 yards for a touchdown to signal that the rout was complete.
Mitchell, redshirt sophomore, was just 11 of 29 for 85 yards on the day. He threw three interceptions. He had some drops, but Petrino said faulty footwork produced a lot of inaccurate passes. He also overpowered some receivers with short passes that couldn't be handled.
Petrino broke into a smile afterwards when a reporter asked why the White team dominated from the get go.
"I told you the other day, the White team had an advantage in coaching," he said. "Really, I thought the White team had more energy with the wide receivers."
It was clear that the White team exploited some of its advantages. The Red team had lost outside linebacker/strong safety Ross Rasner (arrest for minor possession and a controlled substance) after the teams were announced in midweek. Matt Marshall, who started in that spot, was the target of some mismatches early in the game. Walk-on safety Ryan Farr missed some tackles on those plays, too. It spelled big gainers for the White.
"I think you do know always how good Coach is when he puts together a plan," Wilson said, acknowledging some mismatches that were targeted. "He's so good. I thought with Coach on our side, we did have an advantage. He is worth that much. He always knows where he wants to go with the ball."
Petrino acknowledged that the game was set up for the offense to look good.
"There were no blitzes, no pressures," Petrino said. "It was vanilla. We knew it was on TV and we didn't want teams to have a summer to figure out our offensive checks against blitzes."
Knowing that, it helped the young offensive line, split equally, find help against what had been the dominant force this spring, an experienced and talented group of defensive ends. The Red team, with Jake Bequette and Colton Miles-Nash at defensive end, never caused any real trouble for Wilson.
Petrino praised the White offensive tackles, Anthony Oden and Jason Peacock, for their work against the defensive ends, but noted the lack of blitzes allowed the offensive guards, backs and tight ends to help "chip" against them to double and triple the protections on the edge.
"We wanted to make sure we didn't get beat by the defensive ends," Petrino said of the White game plan. "We did give the tackles a lot of help, but I thought they did a nice job with their run blocking on the edge."
Wilson didn't give up a sack. Mitchell was "touched" down twice in the passing game. But that wasn't where he struggled.
"The Red team struggled with his accuracy on the throws and catches," Petrino said. "There were some drops, too.
"Brandon had a good spring. He really improved during the spring. He got better in the way he operated the offense. But he struggled today. He didn't get his footwork right today."
Petrino praised Wilson's performance.
"Tyler had a good spring," he said. "The thing that Tyler does, he completes passes. There are times that we get after him for certain mistakes in a practice, or not having everything in the offense perfect. Then we come in and look at the practice or scrimmage stats and he's 34 of 39 for the day. He really can throw the ball and complete passes.
"What we asked him to do today was play with poise and he really did that. He made good decisions."
So does that mean Wilson is the number one quarterback?
"There is no sole deciding factor," Petrino said. "We are going to evaluate the entire spring. We are going to see who leads this summer. That will be part of it. And we will come back in two-a-days and see who plays the best. We'll use all of that to decide it.
"We want to see who has the leadership this summer. We want to see who takes responsibility for the team in those practices."
Garrick McGee, offensive coordinator and the playcaller for the Red team, was careful to praise Mitchell's body of the work for anyone who wanted to just judge the competition on the Red-White game.
"Brandon has had 14 really good practices this spring," McGee said. "A lot of the things he missed today he had hit in practice. He's still in a growing process, but he's getting better.
"If you look at it, you see where Tyler had been in the pressure situations before. Brandon had not. That was the difference today. I was surprised with the way the game went. I thought Brandon was going to light it up today."
The key to the battle might be the leadership role.
"That leadership, it could be the one thing we are missing right now," McGee said. "You have to be confident and push your peers. For us to be really good, we've got to get that this summer from someone. Last summer it was Ryan. He didn't need any friends. He got on people when they needed it. We need someone to take that role this summer."
Given that response from the quarterback coach, Wilson said he understood.
"I know that needs to happen," he said. "There are a lot of ways to supply the leadership. I hear what he is saying. I know what needs to be done."
Jarius Wright had a big day. After makings some nice cuts and breaking tackles in a huge first quarter, the senior wideout finished the day with five catches for 157 yards. He opened (57 yards) and closed (12 yards) the scoring on passes from Wilson, breaking tackles both times.
"Tyler was sharp early and JWright had some huge runs after the catch," Petrino said. "Really, the defense has tackled very well this spring and we'd gotten after our wide receivers wanting more yards after the catch. Jarius did that today."
Petrino also liked what he saw from White running back Ronnie Wingo. The 6-2, 230-pound junior had 62 yards on 11 rushes and caught one pass for 9 yards. He had a long of 21 yards and had a 4-yard TD run to complete an 11-play, 98-yard march with the second White possession.
"Ronnie took a little lesson from what Knile (Davis) did last fall," Petrino said. "He got to his top speed as fast as he could this spring."
Defensively, Petrino noted the restrictions on the scheme and calls for the spring game, but he was pleased with the overall play for the 15 workouts.
"We are much better defensively," he said. "We are better against the run. It's exciting to watch the way we played this spring. We can rush the passer. We've gotten some help at defensive tackle with Robert Thomas. It's exciting to watch him play.
"We are better at safety. Tramain Thomas had a really good spring. He has the ability to read the front shoulder of the quarterback. He's much faster and he can get to the football."
Petrino was asked about the play of Knile Davis in the spring. Davis didn't break many long runs. He had 44 yards on 16 carries in the spring game with a long run of 9 yards.
"It wasn't Knile," Petrino said. "It was more a case of us not doing as good a job in the running game at other spots. We have to do a better job with the offensive line, the tight ends, the quarterback and the wide receivers. Our blocking down the field by our running backs has to be better. It's a group effort."
Brandon Mitchell is "sacked" on a two-hand touch by Jared Green.
Jarius Wright had five catches for 157 yards and two touchdowns.
Jarius Wright sticks the nose of the ball over the goal line on a 12-yard TD reception.
Tyler Wilson helped the White to a big victory.
Attendance was estimated at 42,000.
Photos by Marc F. Henning, Hawgs Illustrated