Tyler Wilson came into the 2011 season with massive shoes to fill. Let's face it; following Ryan Mallett's 2010 performance at Arkansas would be a huge mountain to climb for even the most experienced quarterback in the country.
Tyler Wilson, the 6'3” junior from Greenwood, Arkansas, wasn't the biggest, strongest, or fastest quarterback in the world, and wasn't even those things in his own conference. And he certainly wasn't the most experienced guy, either.
Still, the Razorbacks began the season with three straight wins, and the worst we had seen from Wilson wasn't that bad. Add in some absolutely impressive moments, and it was possible that Wilson had the real chance of making Hogs fans forget about “the good old days” with Mallett.
Against low-caliber opponents (FCS Missouri State and New Mexico), the Razorbacks rolled right over the defenses, and won by a combined 103-10 mark. Arkansas also climbed to No. 14 in the AP Poll.
Then, the Hogs ran into the Alabama Crimson Tide buzz-saw.
The Razorbacks were shown why Alabama is sporting a No. 3 ranking in the polls, and the Tide rolled past Arkansas, 38-14.
While any loss will certainly hurt Heisman chances, Wilson's performance against Alabama wasn't all bad. He was 22-of-35 for 185 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Yeah, not the greatest of performances, but against the Tide's defense, not too shabby.
The expected loss didn't drop the Razorbacks out of the polls, and the Hogs geared up for the showdown with future SEC foe Texas A&M as the No. 17 team in the B/R Top 25.
After falling behind early, and facing a 35-17 halftime deficit, it was likely that the second half to today's game would be a defining moment for the 2011 Arkansas Razorbacks.
Rolling over against a wounded A&M team would basically signal Arkansas' departure from the upper echelon of college football teams. The Razorbacks could still be considered a good second-tier team this year, but losses to Alabama and Texas A&M would prove that the program hasn't quite arrived yet.
The other option was the one exercised by Wilson the his teammates this afternoon.
The Razorbacks looked like a team possessed in the second half, and rattled off 25 points on a seemingly shell-shocked Aggies team that could manage just three second-half points of their own.
By far the biggest performance in Arkansas' 42-38 win over Texas A&M was from Tyler Wilson.
Wilson submitted his résumé for Player of the Week honors with a whopping 510 passing yards (30-of-51, 10.0 yards per attempt) and three touchdowns. Wilson also avoided any completions to the Aggies, and his calm execution in the game's waning moments clearly elevates his Heisman standing.
His 510 passing yards today obliterates the Arkansas record of 409 yards set by Ryan Mallett last season against Vanderbilt.
Rather than thinking about “the good old days,” Razorbacks fans have a new quarterback building an impressive career of his own at Arkansas. Performances like besting the school record for passing yards in a game by a full 101 yards means that the “good old days” might actually lie in the future for Arkansas.
Another thing that could lie in the near future: a Heisman-caliber season for Wilson.