Arkansas looks to maintain momentum against Auburn
Tyler Wilson isn't about to take his foot off the pedal now.
Following a thumping at the hands of Alabama two weeks ago, the Arkansas quarterback was adamant last week in calling the Razorbacks' game against Texas A&M a ''must win.'' Wilson answered his own call against the Aggies, finishing with a school-record 510 yards passing as Arkansas rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit for a 42-38 win.
After moving up eight spots in The Associated Press Top 25, the No. 10 Razorbacks (4-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) step back into league play when they host No. 15 Auburn (4-1, 2-0) on Saturday.
Wilson stopped short of repeating his ''must win'' declaration against the defending national champion Tigers, but he fully expects his teammates to play with the same sense of urgency they showed in the second half against Texas A&M.
''Again, this week is very crucial,'' Wilson said. ''Every week is crucial when you're trying to make it to the top and prove your team's among the elite. ... I think this is crucial, and everybody in the locker room needs to understand that. I think that message will definitely be spread.''
Auburn already owns a pair of SEC victories and last year snapped a two-game skid against the Razorbacks with a 65-43 win.
''It's easy to get motivated for Auburn,'' Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. ''We always seem to do a good job of getting ready to play those guys. We know it's a conference game; it's a big game for us because we're already down one in the conference race.''
Wilson had his breakout performance against the Tigers last season, throwing for 332 yards and four touchdowns in a relief role after Ryan Mallett's first-half concussion. That performance, however, was nothing like what the junior did against the Aggies last week - finishing 30 of 51 in helping Arkansas avoid a two-game losing streak.
Senior Jarius Wright was on the other end of 13 of Wilson's passes, finishing with a school-record 281 yards receiving. The duo was awarded honors as co-SEC offensive players of the week.
''Jarius is very deserving,'' Wilson said. ''We were just clicking on Saturday.''
Petrino was encouraged by the progress he saw from Arkansas' struggling offensive line in the second half against Texas A&M. The group allowed hit after hit on Wilson against Alabama, as well as during the first half against the Aggies.
The line continued to struggle with run blocking, with the Razorbacks gaining only 71 yards on the ground one week after the Crimson Tide held them to 17. Despite that and the hits on Wilson, Petrino liked the emotion he saw in the second half after Arkansas' coaches openly questioned their competitiveness following the Alabama loss.
''I thought we learned a lot, really,'' Petrino said. ''We could have come out after the halftime and not competed hard, not played physical and we did just the opposite.
''Instead of separating, instead of pointing fingers, we came together as a team, had our best competitive spirit I think the whole year in the second half.''