By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – There aren’t many bad football memories for Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson from Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium, including the Razorbacks’ last visit there.
You can call that memory neutral.
Then-No. 8 Arkansas was upset 34-31 by Louisiana-Monroe, a game Wilson left in the first half with a concussion after guiding the Hogs to a 21-7 lead.
He doesn’t remember much about the despair of the shocking defeat.
“I was a little bit under the weather at that point. I really remember the day or so after but not really so much that night,” Wilson said.
That game was the first Little Rock loss for the Arkansas senior class. The Razorbacks play there twice a year.
Their second trip south to the state capital will be on Saturday when they face Ole Miss. Both teams are coming off bye weeks following SEC wins – back-to-back league wins for Arkansas.
Lows and highs
Wilson’s concussion, a string of injuries and other factors contributed to three more losses for the Razorbacks, two of them in embarrassing fashion. They lost to Alabama 52-0 and to Texas A&M 58-10 in their first two SEC games.
Arkansas has regrouped and won 24-7 at Auburn, 49-7 at home against Kentucky and carries a two-game win streak into Saturday’s game.
Wilson’s improving health has been a key part of the turnaround. He’s averaging 326.2 passing yards and has thrown for 14 touchdowns with five interceptions.
His poise in the pocket could present problems for the Rebels.
“He can read coverages. He understands what you’re trying to do with your defense. You step one way, and he’s going another way. He knows where to go with the ball. He’s got great presence on the field. I don’t think he gets flustered,” Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said.
Complicating matters for Ole Miss will be return of one of Wilson’s favorite targets, tight end Chris Gragg, who’s been out since an injury against Rutgers in Week 4.
“It’s huge. You’re able to disguise some stuff, put him in some formations. He’s a great blocker, so he helps you in the run game, and he catches the ball really well,” Wilson said.
Gragg had 19 catches for 234 yards and two touchdowns through the first four games.
Wilson was a part of three high school state championships won at War Memorial Stadium. He’s eager to finish his final game there as he did in so many games before.
“It’s a place I’ve probably had more success than any other place that I’ve played in terms of, I won three state champion-ships there. We had good games there in the past, so I don’t look too much to the last time we were down there. Little Rock’s been good to me, and we’ll continue to get on a roll.”