Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino
On the Auburn game
"Obviously the Auburn game was a good win for our football team. When we went back and really studied the video, we certainly didn’t do everything right, but we played with very good effort. The players were competing all the way from the start of the game to the end of the game, and we covered for each other. It was a very good team win. The defense covered for the offense when we had mistakes and turnovers, the offense answered, went down and made points or changed field position when we made mistakes in special teams. It was a great team effort, I think the players felt very good about how hard they competed, how hard they prepared for the game, and we certainly had some great efforts out on the field. It was a very hard fought contest and a very physical game."
On Michael Smith
"Michael is doing well. Like I said before he does a great job of taking care of his body, that’s very important to him. He is in early in the morning, in the cold tubs, doing extra stretching. He felt good, he got out and ran last night. We like to run on Sunday nights with the guys who played in the game to get rid of the soreness and then we practiced with the guys who are redshirting and with the guys who don’t get as many reps."
"It’s an ongoing deal, you do it every day. You try and figure out exactly where he’s at, how he’s feeling, and get him 100% for Saturday. But also as a running back you like to get those carries in practice, because it is so much instinct and vision so it’s just a day-to-day deal there."
"He hits the hole very hard, plays with great effort, his vision is very good. I thought he did a really nice job scoring, going the distance, making that play, making that cut back. He carried the ball a lot, ran very hard, and ran very physical. I think as an offense we blocked better, we sustained our blocks better, we got guys cut down on the back side, our receivers were giving us great effort blocking down the field. As an offense our running game improved and everyone else helped him out."
On the Offensive Line
"I thought the offensive line did a very nice job; they really controlled the line of scrimmage. We talked all week long about getting these guys off their feet and we had a lot of knocked down blocks, but we had tremendous effort, playing hard, playing full speed. As you play into the game you’re nervous because (Auburn) had very good defensive fronts, they are very physical and fast. I was very proud of the way our offensive line went right after them, and our tight ends blocked well and it was actually the entire group. "
On the teamwork
"You play one game at a time. I do like the improvement we have made in the last few weeks, our understanding of how to practice is better and our understanding of how to prepare for a game. Then putting it together and taking it to the field and playing the four quarters. We are improving we just need to continue to do that. "
On the defensive effort
"First it started with our front four, they have done a nice job of improving on their technique and fundamentals, and keeping their shoulders square at the line of scrimmage, understanding how to stop the run, understanding your responsibilities on how to stop the run. We have done a much better job on our pass rush and getting to the quarterback and putting a [hit] on him. Our linebackers have improved, Wendell Davis and Jerry Franklin in there together, I think we have a good group, very physical, both of them are very fast. The combination of the two has really helped us with the run game. The secondary is really improving; they have done a nice job of improving and playing hard. Our safeties are tackling better and that is really important."
On the play of Adrian Davis
"He really made a lot of plays and the good thing was he was fresh. I think the thing that really helped our defense is the fact that in the first half we had the ball most of the time. I think they had 22 snaps in the first half and that helps you get fresh when you need the pass rush, you’re not tired and you are able to go full speed. We have been rotating all four defensive ends in. We feel confident with all of them. It has really helped their production so when they are in they can tee off and go full speed. Adrian certainly had a bunch of big plays, the fact that he three sacks and the interception, and forced a fumble, he did a great job. "
On the Auburn game
"It was a key victory for us, it was a hard fought game that we knew it would be from the get go. It went down fourth quarter and felt like we had a good chance with what we were doing. Everybody felt confident with the game plan and execution wise. It was a great win for us and we have to keep on rolling."
On the play of Michael Smith
"Obviously he is doing a fantastic job for us back there. Some people think he is too little to play but he is a fantastic running back. If you go back and look at how many tackles people don’t make on him and how many people he makes miss and how many people just slide off of him and different things like that, you’ll know he does a fantastic job for us. He’s got a big heart he just keeps going for us every play. He works really hard at it. He’s probably one of the hardest worker’s we’ve got. He goes in every week after practice to the training room and tries to get his legs back and do as much as he can to be as fresh as he is. He’s a physical runner and he just goes in and makes plays for us."
On Michael Smith’s emergence
"I’ve known it for a while. During spring practice whenever he’d be back there when Darren and Felix were here. Every time he got the ball he’d do something special with it just like those other guys. Just because he’s smaller doesn’t mean he’s not a good football player. He’s a fantastic football player, he’s doing a great job and he needs to just keep doing what he’s been doing and we’ll be alright."
On the morale of the team
"It was very important for us to get that win. We came out all week at practice and wanted to focus on having long drives (for the offense) and when we get down inside the 20 find some way to get the ball in the end zone or score some points. That was our main focus and I think it we executed that pretty well."
"I feel like as a whole our defense stepped up and played a big role in this game. I felt like we had the offense’s back when they didn’t do so well, and the offense had our back when we didn’t do so well. As a whole, after the Florida game we felt like we were all getting better. We took stride in that and got back to the practice field and we worked hard and started believing and we’re going to continue to get better."
On playing four good defensive quarters
"I feel like what we really wanted to accomplish this game that we haven’t in the past is not giving up. We had faith in the Florida game and in the games prior, but there was something about this game that we did not want to let get out of our hands. We really wanted to stop them big on first down and once we did that we understood that we were going to capitalize on some three and outs. That was our main focus was three and outs. We just felt like our defense wasn’t going to give in in the fourth quarter. Coach Petrino constantly talked about playing for four quarters after the Florida game so that’s what we went in to this game having on our minds."
On being graded
"I felt like I graded ok. Coach Ward sat down with me and we talked about how I could do a lot of things better and, honestly, I just felt like I stepped up and had a big role to fill and I stepped up and I came to play."
On being aggressive/ tackles for loss
"Coach Ward always talks about how aggressive I am. I think that play in particular was a great time for me to be as aggressive as I am."
On filling in for Ernest Mitchell
"First of all, Ernest is a great guy, a good friend, and a good leader. He’s taught me a lot about defensive line. It’s unfortunate what happened to him, but he’s working hard and he’s going to get back here in the next couple of weeks. Getting the starts against Florida and Auburn has been good. I mean, I’m a true freshman; it’s a dream to play here. Starting is crazy. I didn’t think I’d be up here talking to you all about this."
On the improvements from the Florida game
"We got a lot better over the games. Florida we held out for three quarters and the fourth quarter came around and I guess we just shut down. Auburn, we stepped up big time. We held them to 13 points. We stepped up as a defense."
On Adrian Davis in the fourth quarter
"Adrian is quite a guy. He stepped up big time with three sacks and an interception. He ended up with four or five tackles. He was a great leader on the field and he stepped up big time in the fourth quarter for us. He’s always the same guy, he’s quiet. He jumped up and down a little bit, but that’s it. "
On his performance at Auburn
"First, let me say it is an honor to be named SEC Offensive Player of the Week. Auburn has a very physical defense, it’s very tough and very fast and I have to give credit to our offense line and the receivers who blocked down-field because we all did a much better job this week. We executed better and it opened more holes and more alleys to run through. 35 carries was tough but was made easier by the job our offense did."
On the physical wear and tear
"I’m not worried about my body being able to bounce back from a hard day on the field. We train throughout the year to be able to make it through a very physical season such as this. Coach Petrino, from the day he stepped on campus, has over-emphasized how physical this team must be to be able to compete. The training the team goes through makes me believe I’ll be okay."
On having 35 carries
"It didn’t take 35 carries in high school to get the job down, so this was a first for me. On Saturday, I wasn’t aware it was 35 carries until after the game but I definitely felt it after the game."
On the Kentucky game
"Once again we’ll be facing a tough defense and we know that. The coaches are working on the game plan, but I believe as a team we are more excited. We know how we have to play to win now and as long as everyone comes to practice ready to go, we’ll be ready by Saturday. I’m looking forward to a good week in practice and another good game this weekend."
On being targeted by Kentucky
"The defense might key-in on me, but I think the Kentucky understands that Coach Petrino is very good at spreading the ball around and he will get the ball to other playmakers who will make good plays."
On last year’s Kentucky game
"I’m often reminded I had a fumble that gave the game back to Kentucky, but I’m not worried about that right now. It’s a new year and a new role for me and I’m excited about being able to go out and do my job."
On the team’s focus
"Everybody on the team understands that we can only focus on one game at a time, but we also have to focus on winning during every play on the field. We want to win each series so we can win the game. I don’t think the players are getting ahead of themselves, they’re just more excited about playing football right now."