FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Tyler's Wilson called an unscheduled news conference last week following the crushing 52-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama and spoke to his teammates, coaches and fans.
That the Arkansas quarterback didn't play in the game because of a concussion didn't matter. The senior had long ago assumed the role as leader of the Razorbacks, particularly after former coach Bobby Petrino's firing in April, and he felt like it was time to lead — especially with the season appearing to slip away.
Wilson was bluntly honest in his assessment Arkansas' performance against Alabama, a loss that followed a shocking overtime defeat to Louisiana-Monroe the week before. The Arkansas native called out teammates for giving up against the Crimson Tide, and he promised to do his best to return to the field as quickly as possible.
"I'm an Arkansas kid," Wilson said. "I know how much it meant to me growing up, to a lot of you guys in this room and to a lot of the fans in the stands to see that display out there on the field, the product we displayed.
"... And I wanted everybody to know that that is not acceptable here and going forward we are going to do the best we can."
Wilson will indeed make his return on Saturday when the Razorbacks (1-2) step out of conference play to host their first meeting with Big East member Rutgers (3-0). Last season's first-team All-Southeastern Conference quarterback was cleared by doctors on Thursday, and he's being counted on to do nothing short of save Arkansas' season.
The preseason hopes of a national championship and Heisman Trophy are all but gone, but Wilson feels like he and his teammates still have plenty to prove.
"You're dealt the card you're dealt," Wilson said. "I didn't expect to have a concussion in the second game. I didn't expect to have certain things happen.
"But at this point, I still think there (are) a number of things attainable. I feel like we can get back on track. It starts tomorrow."
The Razorbacks face a difficult task against the Scarlet Knights as they attempt to regain the form that had them ranked No. 8 just two weeks ago.
Rutgers, which opened conference play with a 23-13 win over South Florida on Sept. 13, was 12th nationally in total defense last season, fifth in scoring defense. The Scarlet Knights, led last season's Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year Khaseem Greene, are once again No. 12 in total defense so far this season — allowing 249.3 yards per game.