In three scrimmages against the first team offense leading up to Saturday's Red-White Game, Wilson and Co. scored on 20 of 30 drives against the defensive starters, but the defense shutout the reserves in the annual spring game and forced two turnovers in the process.
Arkansas interim head coach Taver Johnson said the defense improved in the weeks leading up to the Red-White game and competition with the first team offense helped.
"I think when those guys go against each other, the level of competition is through the roof," Johnson said. "When you have starters versus starters, you get that good work day-in and day-out and it's going to be beneficial and it has been for us.
Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Haynes said playing against an All-SEC quarterback throughout the spring contributed to the defense's improvement as well.
"I challenge our defense all the time by saying 'if we can do well against this offense and a guy like (Wilson) and confuse him, then we have a chance to be really good," Haynes said. "Sometimes I'll grab Tyler and say 'What's hard for you? What are we doing well?' He's the best of the best. If we can do well against him and that offense, we have a chance to be pretty good."
On Saturday, Brandon Mitchell, Brandon Allen and Brian Buehner combined for 118 yards and completed 55 percent of their passes against the Red team defense. The reserves also totaled just eight yards rushing on 23 attempts.
"I think we played well," Haynes said. "Our biggest thing we have to concentrate on is stopping the run and I think we did that today.
"We still need to get better at a lot of different things. We're going to keep stressing tackling like crazy and every missed tackle is a huge deal to me. Especially if they miss a tackle and the rest of the guys are not running. Those are some of the things we will continue to clean-up in the fall."
Five sacks were included in the White team's 23 rushing attempts. Defensive ends Chris Smith and Trey Flowers each had a pair of sacks and defensive tackle D.D. Jones added another one.
"The front four is going to be the heart and soul of our defense," Johnson said. "Those guys really showed up today."
Smith attributed the coaches with the defensive improvement, beginning in December's bowl preparations, and his personal success as well.
"Coach Steve Caldwell has been working with me, along with former players like Jake Bequette," the junior defensive end said. "I worked with him over the summer. I was just staying low pad level and getting leverage (today).
"Give credit to Paul Haynes. He's a great coach and he's been helping us since the Cotton Bowl. We just had to come out there and make a statement."