Tyler Wilson took some vicious physical shots at Alabama. He took even more – of the verbal variety -- in the last week from Garrick McGee, the Arkansas quarterbacks coach.
No problem, the junior quarterback said after a record day in a 42-38 victory over Texas A&M. It's all part of the game.
"You have to be tough to play football," Wilson said after helping the Razorbacks win the second half by an amazing 25-3 count.
Did he think it was possible after the way the Aggies demolished the Hogs en route to a 35-17 halftime lead? Yes, because Wilson said they had watched tape all week of Oklahoma State doing the same thing to the Aggies.
"We watched them do that to them and we read the stuff about OSU being in better shape," Wilson said. "We think we are in pretty good condition, too. So, we did."
Wilson also knew that the Aggies were going to give them a few things in the passing game, if he would be patient, continue to get protection from the line and buy a little time with his feet.
"A&M's safety plays about 25 yards deep," he said. "It was a matter of going through the progressions and if you get all the way through them, you might get that spot open in the middle of the field. I told Jarius Wright to keep working back to that area and I'd find him.
"That was pretty good for us. It was there. I told Jarius that he could probably beat him down the field, too. He did."
Wright crushed the UA receiving records with 13 catches for 281 yards. Wright had a 68-yard TD catch and recovered a fumble in the end zone for another score.
Wilson said a lot of the catches were simple reads that left Wright open in zones in the middle of the field.
"That is a play that I know really well. We ran it a lot today. We kept going back to it. It gave us some nice chunk plays all day."
Wilson set the UA single game passing record with 510 yards on a 30 of 51 day. He didn't have any interceptions and was rarely close despite a variety of blitzes from the A&M linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks.
"I'm proud of Tyler," McGee said. "He knew I was not happy with him after last week. He came out fighting today. That's what I wanted to see. I think you can see the light come on with him."
Head coach Bobby Petrino said it was a matter of Wilson "playing one play at a time. He stood in there and competed. Then our offensive line grew up."
There actually was a slight running game from that O-line down the stretch. The Hogs cracked the century mark – in a way. They had 107 in positive plays and ended with a net of 71 on the ground after 36 yards in losses.
"They kept blitzing," Petrino said. "They would come from one side, then flip it to the other side. We finally did settle in with some draws in that last drive.
"Dennis Johnson hit some creases, broke some tackles and really gave us a lift. That helped us a lot on that last (touchdown) drive."
A&M rushed for 381 net yards. The Hogs did slightly better in the second half, giving up 225 in the first two quarters and 156 in the final two. However, defensive coordinator Willy Robinson wasn't sure the Hogs slowed them down except for a fourth-and-2 play with 1:42 left.
"I never felt like we had stopped their run," he said. "The fourth down play was the only time. Our two tackles, Dede Jones and Zack Stadther, got penetration. We had a call on for that play and we got to them."
Robinson said the Hogs did change some things at halftime in the defense, moving away from a 5-2 look, to more of a 4-2.
"It was something Coach Petrino suggested," Robinson said. "So it was a great idea from coach. It was (a 4-2), with some movement. We did some things with the backside that helped."
Until then, Petrino said the Aggies assaulted perimeter where the Hogs are down to the backups at both end spots and both cornerbacks.
"We didn't tackle well, but there were also some big-time runs by their backs," Petrino said. "Our young end made some mistakes, but we kept playing and we got better. It was hard because those guys had to play a lot of repetitions."
Wright was soaking in the moment afterwards.
"It's big for me," Wright said. "Maybe Tyler and I were playing catch some. Getting a record is big, but it wouldn't be much if we didn't win. Winning made the moment."
His quarterback was talking about moments, too. He said he will remember a few sweet points in the comeback.
"I have thrown for over 500 yards in a game, but it was all the way back in my junior year in high school, 582, when we won the state championship," he said. "But it's not like this. This is a pretty good moment, in this setting, in this stadium."
Wilson said he took a peak at the big screen after he scored a two-point conversion.
"We'd worked on that play and we knew that was going to be our two-point play," he said. "And when the call came in, I was excited. Then we got the exact pre-snap read so that was a nice moment."
Someone asked about one of Wilson's favorite lines, from his favorite movie, Tin Cup. There's a little bit from the golf movie where the lead character talks about either "you define the moment, or the moment defines you."
Wilson smiled broadly.
"I've watched that movie many times," he said. "That's one of my favorites. Sometimes you do get a big defining moment. You have to take it.
"This is a big game for us. It was a must win. I believed that last Sunday and I believe it now. It's huge for morale. You can go forward. A 4-1 record is a lot different than 3-2. Definitely, this is a defining moment."
Wilson and Wright called a team meeting Sunday.
"I think me and Tyler are leaders," Wright said. "I think when you make plays like we did today, the team is going to come with us. We put a lot on the line today. We had to step up."
Wilson Leads Victory Comeback
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