Wilson Tries To Correct The Small Things

FAYETTEVILLE — Usually at every practice, Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino can be overheard shouting at quarterback Tyler Wilson for not properly calling the play in the huddle.

And usually at every practice, Petrino gets on Wilson for fumbling a snap from under center. The redshirt freshman was scolded for committing both mistakes during a nearly three-hour practice on Thursday morning.

As much as Petrino criticizes his second-team quarterback, he still has high hopes for Wilson, who has shown that he's a hard worker and can be an incredibly accurate passer. But it's the little things that keep tripping him up and sending Petrino into a tizzy.

"(He's) still a guy that can throw the heck out of the football. (But it's) still frustrating at times on his ability to call plays (and) operate at the line of scrimmage," Petrino said. "But he has improved in that area and it's just a process, and Tyler works hard at it.

"... It just doesn't click all the time and then he has to handle the frustration. When he doesn't do it right, he gets frustrated and then that hurts the next play."

Even though Petrino has held out on naming his starting quarterback, sophomore Ryan Mallett has clearly separated himself from Wilson in the two-man race. But Wilson continues to work in practice for the chance to come off the bench and play a few series in every game.

The Greenwood native made a case for playing time Saturday when he unofficially completed 17-of-20 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown in Arkansas' first full preseason scrimmage.

Wilson connected with wide receiver Reggie Fish on a 57-yard completion, and his only touchdown pass came when he rifled an 11-yard strike to running back Ronnie Wingo Jr. in the end zone.

Despite his ongoing struggles at the line of scrimmage, Wilson said he feels more comfortable now than he did a year ago when he began the season as Casey Dick's backup.

"As a freshman, you come in a little bit blind. You don't know what to expect," said Wilson, who turned 20 on Sunday. "I think that's just the biggest thing. You just understand what the team goes through, how tough and how long and enduring the season is, and you got to continue to stay healthy and make your way through it."

Wilson learned that lesson the hard way as a true freshman last season. After making his first two appearances against a pair of top-10 teams in Alabama and Texas, he came down with mononucleosis and missed the final eight games.

Wilson finished the season with 69 yards passing with one touchdown and two interceptions. He recovered from mono in time for the start of spring practice, and he kept the quarterback race with Mallett closer than many people expected.

But Wilson has continued to have trouble taking the snap from under center, something he didn't do while running Greenwood High's Spread offense. He fumbled the snap several times during Thursday's practice, including at least twice during a goal-line drill.

Wilson attributed some of the exchange problems that he and Mallett to a lesser extent have had on the Razorbacks using two different centers in practice.

"I think we're all changing centers back and forth and that's part of it, but we're continuing to work on it," Wilson said. "I think it's gotten better."

Wilson said he has seen progress while working almost exclusively with the second-team offense. He has no legitimate competition for the backup quarterback job, but he's hoping to get some playing time as well.

"Things are getting better each day. (I'm) learning, progressing," Wilson said. "I think that was just the basis of this camp — just to continue to learn and continue to progress and I think I've done that."



Profile

Tyler Wilson

Age: 20.

HEIGHT: 6-foot-3. WEIGHT: 215 pounds.

Class: Redshirt freshman.

Hometown: Greenwood.

Notable: Wilson received a medical hardship after missing most of last season because of mononucleosis, which caused him to quickly lose weight. He appeared in two games against Alabama and Texas, completing 11-of-22 for 69 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Wilson had been competing with sophomore Ryan Mallett for the starting job, but he's now working with the second team.

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