FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett could return to practice as early as Tuesday after suffering a concussion in a blowout loss to Auburn over the weekend.
Mallett was hurt in the first half of the 65-43 loss on Saturday, though he returned to the sideline during the second half.
Coach Bobby Petrino said Monday that the junior showed no symptoms of the concussion on Sunday. He said the "best-case scenario" was the quarterback returning to practice on Tuesday.
"That's what I'm hoping anyway," Petrino said.
Petrino recalled that when he was an assistant coach for Jacksonville in the NFL, he dealt with a similar head injury like Mallett's with former Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell. Petrino said Brunell was able to practice during the week following a concussion, but the effects returned — a situation he hopes Arkansas avoids this week with Mallett.
"We just have to monitor it and make decisions right before we go to practice and see what the reps are going to be," Petrino said.
If Mallett can't practice, No. 21 Arkansas (4-2, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) will prepare to face Mississippi (3-3, 1-2) with backup quarterback Tyler Wilson behind center. Wilson stepped in for Mallett at Auburn and led the Razorbacks back from a 10-point deficit, throwing a 23-yard touchdown pass to Greg Childs that put Arkansas up 43-37 early in the fourth quarter.
"(Wilson) did a real nice job of executing his progressions," Petrino said. "He stood in there and took a couple of shots and completed passes and showed a tremendous amount of toughness. He gave us an opportunity to be in a position to win."
The touchdown to Childs was one of four in the game for Wilson, who finished 25 of 34 passing for 332 yards. All were career bests for the sophomore, who had seen only limited action in each of the past two seasons before Saturday.
Wilson did see extended practice time during the spring when Mallett was out with broken foot. That work continued during summer workouts with Arkansas' receivers, and Wilson said he prepares each week as though he'll play — something that paid off at Auburn.
"One of the best things that I took out of Saturday was the fact that when I stepped in (the huddle), I saw some belief in some guy's eyes," Wilson said. "And the confidence they had in me made me feel a part of it."
Wilson did throw two fourth-quarter interceptions against Auburn, helping the Tigers outscore the Razorbacks 28-8 in the quarter. However, his poise in the huddle in his first true road test was noticed by his teammates.
"He had the utmost confidence," Arkansas center Travis Swanson said. "You could tell he was ready. He was thrown into that situation, but he responded well."
With Mallett's status for the game against the Rebels in question, Wilson said he'll continue to prepare like he has every week.
His performance at Auburn didn't go unnoticed by Mississippi coach Houston Nutt, who is familiar with the Greenwood, Ark., native from his time as Arkansas' coach.
"He's accurate, came in and showed a lot of poise and confidence," Nutt said. "When you have the receivers he has — Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, Greg Childs, D.J. Williams and the backs that can catch the ball — that's a lot of weapons. "They did a good job protecting him and he's very accurate."