Arkansas received a scare last weekend when Heisman hopeful Ryan Mallett left the game with a concussion. His return to practice should alleviate some concerns.
The 21st-ranked Razorbacks will look to bounce back from their second loss when they host former coach Houston Nutt and Mississippi on Saturday.
Mallett reported no ill effects from the blow he took during last Saturday’s 65-43 loss at then-No. 7 Auburn and was able to make it through a full practice Tuesday. Despite the positive news, his status against the Rebels remains uncertain.
“We just have to monitor it and make decisions right before we go to practice and see what the reps are going to be,” coach Bobby Petrino said.
Backup Tyler Wilson stepped up in Mallett’s absence, completing 25 of 34 passes for 332 yards with four touchdowns to earn high praise from his coach.
“(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.”
Arkansas (4-2, 1-2 SEC) set a school record with six consecutive 300-yard passing games thanks to Wilson’s effort. Its focus has now shifted to the Rebels, who have an FBS-worst one interception and will be facing the Razorbacks’ second-ranked passing attack at 366.3 yards per game.
“This is a big game for us, we haven’t been at home for a month,” Petrino said. “We need our crowd to get up early, come here (and) fire us up.”
Nutt spent 10 years on the Arkansas sidelines before coming to Mississippi prior to the 2008 season.
“I think it has died down a little bit. I am sure there is a few people that still want to see Houston Nutt beat,” he said about playing in Fayetteville. “The thing I am more concerned about is being focused on the task at hand. Because our league is so tough you have got to focus; you better be worried about that.
“We don’t have time to worry about what people think or the emotion surrounding the situation. It’s all about getting players ready to play.”
The Rebels (3-3, 1-2) face their second consecutive ranked team after falling 23-10 at then-No. 8 Alabama last Saturday.
Mississippi surrendered two or more passing touchdowns for the fourth time and could have its hands full again with whoever takes the snaps for Arkansas.
“I don’t have anybody telling me (Mallett) is going to play or not going to play, but I feel like we need to be ready for him,” Nutt said. “Tyler Wilson and Ryan Mallett are both very good. You didn’t see any dropped balls when Tyler went into the game.”
Mississippi has enough to worry about with its own quarterback, as Jeremiah Masoli completed a season-low 45.0 percent of his passes for 110 yards and an interception against the Crimson Tide.
Masoli received a vote of confidence from his coach.
“He has gotten better and continues to get better,” Nutt said. “He works hard. We’ve got to have some receivers step up and help him.”
Arkansas leads the all-time series 30-25-1 but lost the previous two meetings, falling 30-17 at Oxford last Oct. 24.