Arkansas Coach John L. Smith is more optimistic Wednesday about the status of senior All-SEC quarterback Tyler Wilson than he was two days earlier.
Tyler Wilson could throw some Wednesday afternoon when the Razorbacks practice.
But that doesn’t mean Wilson will play Saturday when the 21st-ranked Razorbacks host No. 1 Alabama at 2:30 p.m. Central.
“Yes, I am more optimistic, but still, that decision’s not been made yet,” Smith said on the SEC coaches’ teleconference. “Not in my hands. Keeping my fingers crossed as well.”
Wilson has not been cleared to play by doctors, Smith said, after suffering a head injury in last Saturday’s 34-31 overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium. The Hogs are hopeful that will happen today or tomorrow.
He watched practice Tuesday, but did not dress out.
“Tyler Wilson is day-to-day, so we’re still waiting to see what’s still going to happen with him,” Smith said. “But I would expect him … he was out there yesterday. And so maybe he’ll be able to get out and doing some throwing and all of that, get ready to go today a little bit.”
Redshirt freshman Brandon Allen and junior Brandon Mitchell split the quarterback repetitions in Tuesday’s practice. If Wilson’s unable to go against Alabama, it’s not yet known who will start Saturday.
“It’s going to be a battle and we expect it to continue on today and maybe a little bit tomorrow,” Smith said. “And who knows. Maybe Tyler will be back, ready to go.”
More problems for Mitchel
Sophomore starting cornerback Tevin Mitchel has had to have gallbladder surgery since suffering a head or neck injury in the second half of the ULM game.
Smith announced the news during the teleconference. Mitchel was hospitalized for two days and didn’t arrive back in Fayetteville until Monday. Smith did not say when the surgery occurred, but Mitchel announced Tuesday via Twitter that he was going to be OK.
The corner picture
With Mitchel out, that could mean playing time for a player the Hogs had hoped to redshirt – true freshman cornerback Jared Collins.
Smith said the Razorbacks would start seniors Darius Winston and Kaelon Kelleybrew against Alabama, but they’re also getting Collins ready to play. Another true freshman, Will Hines, has already seen action at corner.
“Well we’re going to try to prepare – again, you have to prepare depth – but the two guys that will end up playing will probably be Kelleybrew out there and Winston,” Smith said. “So those two, and we have to do a better job and do a job of maybe pulling a guy that we were thinking about redshirting in a Collins out and getting him prepared.
“You would still like to save a redshirt if you could. But you have to prepare that guy (Collins) just to make sure that you have enough bodies to get you out of a game should something happen. So we have to do that, but that would be our first move is Kelleybrew and Winston.”
Seeking the 12th man
The Alabama game is technically sold out, but there were still tickets available online by midday Wednesday.
Smith is hoping for a packed house and a rowdy crowd.
“Well, I think it’s crucial,” Smith said of crowd support. “We had them here two years ago, of course, and I don’t know that any of the fans in the stands ever set down the entire game. We need that again this year. We need that 12th man. We need it to be just loud and out of control.
“So that energy that you feel in the stadium needs to transpire for our guys. It’s crucial that our fans get out and get behind thse guys. This is the same group of guys that you were behind in spring ball. Don’t be jumping off the bandwagon. Get in here and support these guys.”
Saban on Flowers
Arkansas sophomore defensive end Trey Flowers was a two-time all-state performer at Huntsville (Ala.) Columbia, was named to the SEC All-Freshman team last season and has started both games for the Razorbacks this year.
And coming out of high school, he didn’t have a scholarship offer from Alabama, which certainly isn’t short on talented defensive linemen.
In the SEC coaches’ teleconference Wednesday, Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban was asked his thoughts about Flowers and whether Alabama recruited him.
“I think he’s doing a really good job. We did look at him,” Saban said. “Recruiting’s not an exact science. Sometimes you recruit guys that maybe turn out to be what you’d thought they’d be. And sometimes they don’t. And sometimes guys that you didn’t recruit, you wished you did. But we think he’s done a really good job for them.”