As spring ball gets underway for the Arkansas Razorbacks, one of the most pressing concerns for the team is replacing quarterback Ryan Mallett.
Mallett was a mainstay under center for the Hogs and led them to one of their best seasons ever.
Replacing such a presence is never easy, but the future looks bright in Arkansas.
Mallett’s numbers were incredible as he set the standard for future quarterbacks.
He owns several Razorback records, including completions, attempts, touchdowns, passing yards and total offense. He did something no other signal-caller had done in the past by leading the team to its first ever BCS bowl game.
He led the SEC in passing yards and passing touchdowns and will undoubtedly be selected in this year’s draft.
He was a leader on the field, and when he was under center, the Razorbacks always had a chance to win. So it seems obvious that the Razorback fanbase will miss him and the team may have some rebuilding to do.
The first-team quarterback going into the 2011 season is junior Tyler Wilson.
Although he is not a household name yet, he has the potential to be. Wilson is being put into a unique situation, and there are many reasons to believe that Wilson will not only survive, but thrive as a signal-caller for the Hogs.
Head coach Bobby Petrino is well-known for his offensive systems. Wherever he has coached, the offense he has put up big numbers in a system that surrounds the quarterback.
The system is a pass-happy offense that is fueled by a quarterback that has to be able to move the ball down the field with accurate short passes, yet be able to open it up and go deep when the opportunity presents itself.
This system makes quarterbacks look good, and Wilson fits perfectly.
Wilson is a junior and he knows the system that Petrino puts into play.
In 2010, he completed 34 of 51 attempts (66.7 percent) for 453 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
Last spring, Mallett was recovering from a broken foot and he did not participate in spring ball.
Wilson basically was the No. 1 QB during spring last year and will not have to adjust to the spot this spring.
He has in-game experience and already has established chemistry with the current players.
If it was one thing that Ryan Mallett lacked, it was the ability to scramble in the pocket and move the ball with his feet.
In fact, Mallett barely moved in the pocket, and at times, this was a liability for the Hogs.
Wilson is different and has some mobility. He is not going to break any records running the ball, but he can easily move out of the pocket and get extra time for his receivers to get open. Because of the added feature, Wilson will bring a new look to the already explosive Arkansas offense.
Not only does Wilson have in-game experience, but he suited up against one of the best teams in the country last year as he spelled Mallett when the Hogs played the Auburn Tigers.
With Mallett out with a concussion, Wilson excelled as quarterback and gave the Hogs a chance to win the game.
Wilson completed 15 of his first 17 passes for 270 yards and four touchdowns, but unfortunately, it was not enough to win the game.
Wilson has big-game experience in the SEC against one of the best defenses in the country, which will be priceless heading into 2011.
Petrino has already lauded Wilson for his leadership in spring ball. At quarterback, it is essential to have the respect of the players and control of the situations.
With a returning core group of skill players, Wilson should have a breakout season under center for Arkansas.
Sophomore Brandon Mitchell and redshirt freshman quarterback Jacoby Walker will follow Wilson in the rotation.
So far in spring ball, Walker showed the rust expected from not practicing since a major knee injury in the Red-White game. It is unlikely that either quarterback will see time this season, but you always have to be ready and have some depth at the most important position on the field.
Tyler Wilson is the perfect replacement for Ryan Mallet at quarterback. He has extensive knowledge of the system, leadership and experience with the current roster.
He has a good arm, big-game experience and mobility in the pocket, and all of these features will make for a good quarterback in the SEC.
With Wilson under center and a boatload of returning talent, the Hogs will be just as good this year, if not better.
Matt Regaw is a B/R Featured Columnist and the founder of BookieBlitz.com, your one-stop shop for sports articles, previews and predictions. Feel free to contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.