FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson suffered what coach John L. Smith described as a “hit to the head” against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday night and is “day-to-day” as the Razorbacks move into preparation for No. 1 Alabama.
Smith, in a news release, said Wilson remained in Little Rock on Saturday night for observation after the 34-31 overtime loss and added his “prognosis is good.” Wilson completed 11 of 20 passes for 196 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception before leaving the game late in the first half with Arkansas leading 21-7.
“I found out prior to our going in right before halftime,” Smith said of Wilson’s injury after the game. “So we knew at halftime, making halftime adjustments we were going to be without Tyler.”
Backup Brandon Allen led the Hogs on a touchdown drive to open the third quarter, extending Arkansas’ lead to 28-7. But the Arkansas offense crumbled the rest of the night, managing 32 yards on its final six possessions in the 34-31 overtime loss.
Smith said Allen, who threw incompletions on his final 13 passes and finished 6-for-20 for 85 yards with a touchdown and interception, wasn’t to blame. Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said it was a complete collapse with Wilson out.
“Besides being on the field, he’s been a great leader for all the players,” Petrino said. “He’s kind of the guy they all look to, and when something like that happens, other guys have to step up and lead. They’ve got to start learning how to do that.”
It’s the second straight season Wilson has suffered a head injury during a nonconference game in Little Rock. He left late in the first half against New Mexico last September with what was described as “concussion-like symptoms.” Wilson returned the next week to play in Arkansas’ next game against Troy.
Arkansas would lean on Allen and, likely, junior Brandon Mitchell if Wilson were unavailable for the Crimson Tide. Petrino was asked after the game if he considered using Mitchell – who has moved to receiver – with Allen struggling late. Petrino said it wasn’t an option because Mitchell hadn’t taken snaps at quarterback in practice.
“He’s been playing receiver and I didn’t feel like a couple of drives were Brandon Allen’s fault,” Petrino said. “When he puts the ball right in someone hands and they drop it, that’s not his fault. That happened on a couple drives. …
“I was thinking we were staying with Brandon Allen the whole time.”
Wilson was just one of a handful of Razorbacks injured in Saturday’s loss.
Cornerback Tevin Mitchel, who was hurt in a helmet-to-helmet collision with a teammate, also remained in Little Rock Saturday and “will probably stay again (Sunday night).” Smith said testing on Mitchel had come back “favorable for him to recover” after the sophomore was carefully carted off the field on a back brace for a potential neck injury. He is listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game.
Fullback Kody Walker, who started in place of injured senior Kiero Small (foot surgery), is likely out for the season with what Arkansas described as a lower leg injury. Walker was injured shortly after Mitchel was taken to the ambulance and had an inflatable cast placed on his left leg on the field.
Cornerback Kaelon Kelleybrew suffered a “bruised arm” and is probable for Saturday’s game. Kelleybrew was hurt early in the game, came back to the field, and then was hurt again. He earned the first start of his Arkansas career in the loss.
“It was hard,” Arkansas running back Knile Davis said of the injuries after the loss Saturday. “But that’s football, you’ve just got to roll with the punches. Everything doesn’t happen the way you want all the time, and you’ve got to adjust.”