FOUR DOWNS- ARKANSAS VS. KENTUCKY NOTES
1. Wilson Fine After Accident
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson has taken his share of hits on the field throughout his career. He endured another one off the field Tuesday.
Wilson was uninjured in a two-vehicle accident on Interstate 540, according to an Arkansas State Police accident report. Wilson was heading north in his 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser and had to break for heavy traffic that had stopped in front of him. Wilson was then rear-ended by a 2006 Chevy Express van driven by Dustin E. Whitmill, who attempted to stop but couldn’t avoid a collision.
The report said Wilson’s Toyota FJ Cruiser “traveled into the median and struck the divider cables” before coming to a stop after the collision. Neither driver reported injuries and Wilson participated in Tuesday’s practice a few hours later.
“First of all you’re just thankful that they’re OK as a person and they’re healthy and everything is fine,” Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said.
“Secondly, then you’re thankful that he’s OK as a player and will be able to practice and be able to play.”
But Wilson’s accident was another twist in what has been a year loaded with adversity for the Razorbacks. Arkansas lost four of its first five games under coach John L. Smith and has endured injuries to key players. It included Wilson, who missed the Alabama game after suffering a concussion against Louisiana-Monroe.
“You don’t want to answer your phone this year,” said Petrino, who initially missed a call from Wilson on Tuesday. “Your phone rings, you just want to run from it.”
Wilson wasn’t limited during the 20-minute practice period open to the media Tuesday afternoon. He wasn’t available for comment after practice, but Petrino said Wilson went through a “typical Tuesday” and took his normal share of work.
The quarterback is trying to build off his performance in the Auburn win, completing 22 of 29 passes for 230 yards. The completion percentage — 75.9 percent — was his highest in a game this season. Wilson has completed 101 of 174 passes for 1,585 yards with 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in five games.
Tight end Austin Tate said the Razorbacks are confident their quarterback will be fine after watching him work Tuesday. Tate said Wilson didn’t talk about the accident much before practice and it didn’t affect him on the field.
“He went out there and led, nothing bothered him,” Tate said. “I feel like we’re kind of bred to take on adversity, and he had a little bit of adversity in his own personal life. He went out there and overcame it and led practice and did a great job.”
2. Gragg Remains Limited
Tight end Chris Gragg was in uniform for Tuesday’s practice, but remained limited because of the bone bruise in his leg. Gragg participated in stretching drills with teammates, but spent the open portion of practice working with trainers.
Petrino said he doubts Gragg will be ready for Saturday’s game, but said he remains day-to-day. The senior has missed two straight games with the leg injury, which he suffered in the first half of the Rutgers loss. Tight end Austin Tate caught four passes in Gragg’s absence at Auburn and will continue to work in his place this week.
“I thought Austin gave great effort,” Petrino said. “He made some big plays for us. Made a couple crucial catches for us and is working hard to improve every day.”
In other injury news, defensive end Tenarius Wright (shoulder) watched teammates practice Tuesday. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI on his shoulder Monday, but the results have not been disclosed. Wright missed the Auburn game.
3. Linebacker Shuffle
Arkansas began to press on without leading tackler Alonzo Highsmith on Tuesday.
The senior will miss the rest of the season after undergoing foot surgery.
Senior Terrell Williams and freshman A.J. Turner worked with the first-team defense during the portion of practice open to the media. Freshman Otha Peters and sophomore Jarrett Lake were with the second-team unit.
“It will probably be a little bit of, fill the void by committee,” Arkansas coach John L. Smith said Monday. “All of them are going to have to get ready to go and be ready to practice, and be ready to play hard.”
4. Extra Points
Petrino said Arkansas will continue to go with the running back who has the “hot hand” against Kentucky. Dennis Johnson led the way at Auburn, rushing for 76 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. … Cornerbacks Tevin Mitchel and Kaelon Kelleybrew participated in the open portion of practice Tuesday. But freshmen Davyon McKinney and Will Hines continued to work with the first-team defense. … Tate was told Tuesday that Arkansas is just 2-4 against Kentucky. His response: “Let’s make it 3-4.”
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau