FB: Kickoff return helps No. 14 Arkansas whip the Lobos
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -
Tyler Wilson couldn't stop himself.
The Arkansas quarterback, who was chided by Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino last week following a head-over-heels diving attempt at the end zone, wanted to make a statement against New Mexico on Saturday night.
Wilson did just that, barreling his way in for a 7-yard touchdown during No. 14 Arkansas' 52-3 win over the Lobos.
However, while the run might have earned Wilson some toughness points with his teammates in his second start, it also sent him to the bench for the second half with what Petrino called concussion-like symptoms.
Petrino strongly suggested following Wilson's diving attempt against Missouri State last week that he slide in goal-line situations. The junior apparently didn't listen -- and after the coaches noticed a lack of focus from him during Arkansas' halftime meeting, Wilson's day was done.
"You have to be smart enough to get the first down and keep yourself healthy," Petrino said. "In that instance, where he's running the ball at that point, he's trying to score a touchdown.
"That's the competitive spirit that allows your teammates to see you as a leader, and it's hard not to have somebody compete like that. That's just his competitive spirit."
Wilson wasn't made available to talk following the game, and his status for next week's game with Troy was immediately uncertain.
Before the injury, the junior continued his stellar play to start the season. He finished 18 of 26 passing for 259 yards and accounted for a pair of touchdowns -- a 12-yard strike to Jarius Wright and the touchdown run.
Arkansas (2-0) put the game out of reach early against the overmatched Lobos -- outgaining them 632-297 in total yardage. The Razorbacks have now outscored their first two opponents 103-10. The point total is the second most to open the season in school history, behind the 165 scored in 1911.
New Mexico (0-2) entered the game having allowed 10 quarterback sacks and lost three fumbles in a season-opening loss to Colorado State last week.
The Lobos fared better offensively against Arkansas in as much as they didn't allow either a sack or lose a fumble. However, quarterback Tarean Austin was pressured throughout by a Razorbacks' defense that allowed only 79 passing yards last week -- finishing 15 of 28 passing for 162 yards.
"Obviously very disappointed in the loss, but Arkansas is a talented team and very deserving of their ranking, as it showed today," New Mexico coach Mike Locksley said. "... We've still got a lot of work to do."
Sophomore Brandon Mitchell entered in Wilson's place in the second half for Arkansas. Mitchell finished 8 of 13 passing for 114 yards in the second half, including a 54-yard touchdown pass to Cobi Hamilton.
It was one of many highlights during the game for Arkansas.
Wilson guided the Razorbacks 70 yards in four plays to open the game, finding Wright on a crossing pattern for the score and a 7-0 lead. The quarterback then suffered his first setbacks as the starter when Arkansas' next drive stalled and resulted in a missed field goal attempt, and that was followed by his first interception of the season.
Last week against Missouri State, Wilson guided the Razorbacks to 303 yards of offense and 24 points during his four possessions.
The minor setbacks didn't slow Arkansas as it built a 31-3 halftime lead.
Marquel Wade added to the early season success of the special teams' unit when he split the New Mexico defense for an 85-yard touchdown return in the first quarter. It was the first of the freshman's career, and he celebrated by continuing his sprint through the end zone and back to the Arkansas sideline, where he was mobbed by his teammates.
The touchdown put the Razorbacks up 14-3, and it was the team's third special teams' score in two games -- following Joe Adams' two punt returns for scores last week.
"I trust him there," Adams said. "He returned a kick this game; he's a great kick returner, too. If they don't want to kick the ball to me, they kick it to him.
"I trust that he can do the same thing, so I'm going to block it up for him."
Even Arkansas' running game, which averaged just 3.1 yards per carry in gaining 102 yards in the opener, found its groove against the Lobos. Junior Ronnie Wingo had 73 yards rushing on 12 carries, leading an Arkansas ground game that amassed 259 yards.