FOUR DOWNS – ARKANSAS VS. ALABAMA NOTES
1. No Practice For Wilson
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson didn’t practice Tuesday, leaving his availability for Saturday’s game against top-ranked Alabama in question.
Wilson, wearing a T-shirt and shorts, watched as backups Brandon Allen and Brandon Mitchell went through quarterback drills during the portion of practice open to the media. He hasn’t been cleared to participate in practice after being knocked out of the Louisiana-Monroe game late in the second half, but participated as much as possible in moving from drill to drill with the quarterbacks.
Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said Arkansas hasn’t given up on Wilson, who regularly glanced at a copy of the practice script. He said Wilson was involved in every play mentally during Tuesday’s practice, but remains day-to-day.
“I’m hopeful and wishful that he’ll be ready to go,” Petrino said. “But we’re also going to prepare the other two to get ready to play at the same time.”
Petrino said Allen received roughly 55 percent of the snaps during Tuesday’s practice, while Mitchell was scheduled for 45 percent. Mitchell said Arkansas is handling the week as if Allen is the starting quarterback with Wilson sidelined.
“Right now, everything’s just been the same,” Mitchell said. “We’ve just been approaching it as Brandon’s the starting quarterback and we’re just trying to make the best of it. I’m still working a little bit at backup quarterback, but right now we’re going as Brandon’s the starting quarterback.”
Allen replaced Wilson in the ULM loss, leading the Razorbacks to a touchdown drive on his first possession to extend the lead to 28-7. He struggled the rest of the game, completing 6 of 20 passes for 85 yards with a touchdown and interception.
Petrino said the issues weren’t just on Allen. He pointed to dropped passes and missed assignments by the offensive line. Allen said it was a “learning experience.”
“Obviously, the first drive worked out well for us,” Allen said. “Then after that we couldn’t really get much going the rest of the second half. It was disappointing for our whole team. We need to do better than that.”
Mitchell didn’t get much work on the practice field at quarterback over the past several weeks, but returned to the position Tuesday. The junior didn’t abandon all of his duties at receiver, though, saying he continues to work at the position as well.
Petrino said Arkansas wouldn’t rule anything out regarding Wilson’s status for Alabama until late in the week. Allen and Mitchell said they’ll be ready if needed.
“As backup, every week you prepare to start just in case something like that happens,” Allen said. “So I’m going to prepare like I always do, be ready to go into the game and lead the team down the field for some touchdowns.”
2. Fullback Auditions
Arkansas began preparing other players at fullback with Kody Walker (broken leg) out for the year and Kiero Small (broken foot) out six to 12 weeks.
Petrino said Morgan Linton, lineman Grady Ollison and tight end Austin Tate will earn some work at the position when Arkansas needs a fullback. Linebacker Austin Jones also donned a red practice jersey and worked at the position Tuesday.
“The one thing about all of them, they’re eager to learn, they’re eager to hit,” Petrino said. “They all want to hit. It’s just a matter of any time you want to hit and you can get in the hole fast enough you’ve got a chance to be a decent fullback. I think we’ll be OK between that collection of guys. Obviously none of them have the experience of Small or are as good as he is yet, but they can all work hard and get there.”
3. Petrino Brothers Chat
Petrino was asked Tuesday if he had spoken to his brother, Bobby, since Arkansas’ loss to ULM last Saturday. The offensive coordinator wouldn’t reveal specifics regarding their conversations, but said the two speak regularly.
“That’s kind of between me and him,” Petrino said. “I talk to him after every game and after most practices. But that’s stuff I think will stay between me and him.”
4. Arkansas-ULL In 2013
Arkansas isn’t playing Louisiana-Monroe in 2013.
But there will be another Sun Belt Conference team trying to upset the Razorbacks.
Arkansas will play Louisiana-Lafayette to kick off the 2013 season, according to the Lafayette (La.) Advertiser. The newspaper said the game will be played on August 31, although it’s not yet known whether it will be held in Fayetteville’s Razorback Stadium or Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium.
Arkansas is 4-0 against Louisiana-Lafayette. The teams last played in 2002, when Arkansas beat the Ragin’ Cajuns 24-17 in Fayetteville.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau