No. 14 Arkansas deals with growing injury list

Garrick McGee liked what he saw from Tyler Wilson during the
first half. The Arkansas offensive coordinator, however, didn’t
like what he saw from the junior quarterback during their halftime
meeting.

”I was going through some things with him,” McGee said. ”I
can read kids, and I just said, `You doing all right?’ He didn’t
seem to be doing all right.”

That led to a visit with the trainers – Wilson was showing what
Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino called concussionlike symptoms.
Whether first-year starter actually had a concussion wasn’t
immediately known, but the symptoms were enough to land Wilson the
bench for the second half of No. 14 Arkansas’ 52-3 rout of New
Mexico.

Petrino said he expects Wilson to play next week when the
Razorbacks host Troy, but the injury was one of several for
Arkansas (2-0).

In addition to Wilson, defensive end Jake Bequette injured a
hamstring during the first half and didn’t return. Receiver Jarius
Wright was on the sidelines during the second half after spraining
a knee.

The injuries didn’t slow the Razorbacks against the Lobos (0-2).
They outgained New Mexico 632-297 in total yardage and have now
scored 103 points combined in their first two games, the
second-highest total in school history to open a season.

Combined with running back Knile Davis’ season-ending ankle
injury, though, the injuries are a concern as Arkansas prepares to
open Southeastern Conference play at Alabama in two weeks.

Wilson, in his second game as starter, finished 18 of 26 passing
for 259 yards. He led Arkansas on a four-play, 70-yard touchdown
drive to open the game and rebounded from his first interception of
the season to lead the Razorbacks on three-straight scoring drives
to close the half.

It was on that final score of the half that Wilson likely was
injured, diving through a host of New Mexico defenders for a 7-yard
touchdown that put Arkansas up 31-3.

Wilson’s absence led to extending playing time in the second
half for sophomore Brandon Mitchell. A week after finishing 10 of
11 passing in limited action against Missouri State, Mitchell
showed his ability again – on the air and ground.

Mitchell completed 8 of 13 passes for 114 yards, including a
54-yard touchdown pass to Cobi Hamilton in the fourth quarter. He
also finished with 59 yards rushing on 5 carries, helping to boost
an Arkansas running game that had 259 yards on the ground.

”I thought that was great for Brandon Mitchell, to get all that
experience,” Petrino said. ”I was really happy with how he
played. I always felt like we’ll never know how good Brandon is
until it’s live and he gets opportunities to run the ball.”

Petrino said he wasn’t hesitant at all to run the 6-foot-4,
230-pound Mitchell in the second half, even after Wilson’s
injury.

”He’s a big physical guy and that’s what he does,” Petrino
said. ”The one thing you look at is big, strong and physical guys
usually don’t get hurt.”

How much Mitchell is needed next week, if at all, remains to be
seen. One thing Petrino and McGee liked from Mitchell and Wilson
was that both didn’t try to force deep passes against deep zone
coverage.

Running backs De’Anthony Curtis and Ronnie Wingo finished with
four catches for 44 yards out of the backfield. The Razorbacks had
10 players with catches, the second straight game they finished in
double digits in receivers with catches.

”If we’re able to call deep passes and they’re not there and we
check the ball down to our running backs, then we’re really going
to be proud,” McGee said.