40-plus school records, 7,496 yards, 62 touchdowns, and just the fourth player in SEC history to pass for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons was what Ryan Mallett left behind when he’s gave up his final season of eligibility to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft. Mallett led the Hogs to a 10-3 season this past year and the program’s first berth in a BCS bowl.
Mallet was Arkansas’ offense, a gunslinger not afraid to take a chance on any down. While this attribute was his strength, ironically, it was also his weakness. The most prominent example of Mallet’s carelessness with the ball occurred in the Alabama game where the Razorbacks were up 20-14 in the fourth quarter. Ryan Mallet threw two interceptions to lose the game.
When Mallett took a huge blow to the head in the second quarter of the Auburn game, Arkansas introduced their quarterback of the future, Tyler Wilson. He took over in the second quarter and looked as if he had been the regular season starter. In balance of the game Wilson threw for 322 yards with four touchdowns. At one point Wilson completed 14 straight passes in the game. This performance wasn’t just against any team; this was against the eventual National Champions, the best team in the country.
Wilson has played sparingly in his first couple of seasons, but after that Auburn game, Arkansas knew they had someone special. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound quarterback isn’t as tall or strong as Mallett, however, Wilson is more accurate and far more mobile. In that Auburn game, Wilson made plenty of throws on the run, with the most impressive of the bunch coming in the third quarter to Joe Adams.
Don’t jump on the Hogs bandwagon just yet however; because there are some red flags. In the first game of the season, Wilson made a brief appearance against Tennessee Tech. In that game he threw a quick interception and ended with a -16.53 passer rating (notice the negative passer rating).
Head coach Bobby Petrino wants Wilson to be more confident. He wants him to trust what he sees and attack it. Besides Mallet’s raw talent, his confidence was through the roof. This was part of the reason why he was so successful. A quarterback in the SEC without confidence will get eaten up by opposing defenses.
Tyler Wilson is very inexperienced and has huge shoes to fill. Lucky for him, he has one of the most talented receiver corps in the country with Greg Childs and Joe Adams. Wilson also has a very talented running back in Knile Davis who will be lining up right behind him.
With all these tools, Wilson is set up to have a big year. Tyler Wilson is one to watch for this year and the Arkansas Razorbacks’ success or failure in the SEC West rests in large part in his hands.
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A college football enthusiast and Journalism and Sports Administration major at the University of Miami, Jared Levine has been writing about major college football for the past two years. You may contact Jared @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ JaredLevine4