Arkansas senior All-SEC quarterback Tyler Wilson took a seat at the table in front of a roomful of reporters Saturday and interrupted the first question after five words.
Tyler Wilson (8) says he's going to do everything in his power to play against Rutgers next week.
“No, sorry. We’re not doing questions today,” Wilson said after Arkansas’ 52-0 loss to top-ranked Alabama at Razorback Stadium, the tone in his voice and look on his face giving a hint of the fiery statement about to come.
“I’ll start with the football game. Obviously, it wasn’t very pretty to watch,” Wilson said. “It wasn’t pretty for me to sit on the sideline and watch as a player. Sucks I can’t be out there to do anything about it. Do I feel that we, at times, gave up out there? Yeah, absolutely. And as a leader it sucks to see people not do their jobs and things go wrong. There’s been a lot of things gone that way.”
No, Wilson wasn’t happy, and who could blame him?
He was relegated to the role of decoy Saturday after suffering a concussion in the Razorbacks’ 34-31 overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe a week earlier.
He came out and warmed up before the Alabama game in shorts and a T-shirt and later led the team onto the field dressed in full pads.
But he was in no shape to play, according to medical opinion, and warming up was the most action he had.
And he saw the Razorbacks – ranked eighth in the nation going into the season– hit one of the lowest points in modern program history.
The offense produced 137 total yards – somehow. It looked worse than that.
“We’ve got a big game against Rutgers next week,” Wilson said. “I’m going to do everything in my power to be a part of it and be the starting quarterback to run out there on the field and get a win. You’ve got to start with one before you can get the rest of them. But I give you my word I’m going to do the best in my ability and the best in my power to make that happen. That’s all I got.”
And with that, Wilson walked out of the room.
A few minutes earlier, Coach John L. Smith elaborated on Wilson’s health. Smith said Wilson was still having headaches and showing symptoms, presumably of a concussion, but that they were hopeful he would play in next Saturday’s home game against Rutgers. When Wilson “can exercise and do all the things without any symptoms, then I think they’re going to OK him,” Smith said.
The question of whether he would play lingered all week. Wilson didn’t practice Tuesday, watching in shorts and a T-shirt. He threw some passes Wednesday. He didn’t practice Thursday.
When did the Hogs know they would be without him?
“We knew he wouldn’t be in this week – you want me to be honest with you or do you want me to lie to you?” Smith said.
“We knew early on. In our heart, we held out thinking there’s some hope, some hope,” Smith said. “But realistically as coaches we said he’s not going to play this week. And you had to face that music early on. But he went and actually had an opinion, saw a specialist on Thursday, and they decided that he wasn’t going to play. So we didn’t get that clearance. We didn’t want to tip our hand to anybody. It’s one of those things we had to do. W e had to just kind of hang in there and maybe that disrupted … it doesn’t look like it now, it had any effect on their game-planning. But that was the process.
“Now, the biggest thing is to get him back, get him back get him going. He can throw. He can do all of those things. When he gets cleared, we’re going to have to wait and see. It’s a day-to-day deal. So we’re just keeping our fingers crossed that he can go.”
Smith said using a player like that as a decoy was a first for him, “but he’s so vital.”
“It’s vital to our football team to have him out there, and I think it’s vital for our fans to see him out there, to realize that he’s going to be OK. He just wasn’t OK for this game.”
And Wilson certainly wasn’t OK with what he saw happen on the field.