University of Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino, Jerico Nelson, Ryan Mallett and Ronnie Wingo, Jr. met with the media at a press conference on Monday. Below is a brief transcript.
Head Coach Bobby PetrinoOn Mississippi State’s success on the road:"They have done a nice job on the road. They played really well offensively and defensively at Kentucky. I don’t know why they play better on the road, but they do. It’s up to us to stop their running game. We have to stop their big back and the option. It would be nice if we got ahead in this game."
On the differences between Mississippi State teams of 2008 and 2009:"All their schemes are different. They have different coordinators. It’s a lot of the same players but they have a different scheme and philosophy this year. Watching tape of the Florida game has helped us to prepare for Mississippi State. They have some similarities."
On Mississippi State running back Anthony Dixon:"He’s big and physical. He’s kind of like Broderick Green in that he runs downhill and bounces off of tacklers. We did not do a good job of tackling him last year, so we need to do better this year. We need to get more bodies to the football to slow him down. I was really happy with how fast our players got to the football last week."
On Arkansas’ running backs:"I like having a bunch of running backs. It’s a good change of pace. It’s good for them. What I like most about it is how they are on the sideline. They were all smiling when Dennis Johnson came in and got some yards. They’re all happy for each other, as opposed to saying ‘I wish I would get more touches.’ I think that’s a great team builder when the running backs, who all want more touches, are excited for their teammate, then I think you’re building something special."
Safety/Linebacker Jerico NelsonOn linebackers coach Reggie Johnson calling the defensive plays against Troy: "Before the game, he got everybody hyped up and ready to play. He motivated us by saying that he was nervous, so we went out and listened to every call he said."
On his size:"Basically, coach’s big thing is toughness. He says that having someone who is big and not tough is no better than someone who is small and tough. As long as you’re tough, Coach Petrino will put you on the field."
On the turnover differential this year:"Turnovers have been really big for us. It allows our offense a chance to capitalize on good field position. It also gets our defense motivated to go back on the field. This year we are more comfortable. I feel that we can trust each other more, because we know the defense better. We can rely on each other to be at our assigned spot every time."
On the difficulty of moving between safety and linebacker:"It’s not hard. I practice with the linebackers for one drill, and when the safeties do one-on-one drills I go with them, and then I’ll go back to linebackers. Every day I work a new position."
Quarterback Ryan MallettOn having six wins and what the team is looking for the next two weeks:"We are bowl eligible now and it’s a great feeling, but there are two more games left on the schedule. We have to prepare this week for Mississippi State like it’s the Super Bowl. We have to do that every week. We want to win out and that’s our goal and it starts with Mississippi State."
On having 100 percent comfort level with the offense:"I’ve felt like that all season. It just comes down to execution and the last three games we have executed well in all three phases and that’s why we’ve been successful."
On having to adjust to the different running backs coming into the game:"I think it’s more difficult for the defense because they have to prepare for four or five different backs and four or five different styles. To me it’s the same. They all have the same footwork and technique. That’s why we go over it during practice, but I think it’s harder for the defense."
On Mississippi State’s defense:"They look athletic and pretty big. We have to get their tendencies and get a good game plan and get ready to go."
On playing in Little Rock:"It’s always fun playing in the state of Arkansas regardless of where it’s at, especially with all the Hog fans there. I wouldn’t say there’s a difference. It’s tough and it’s a home game. We are going to go down there and put on a show for the home crowd."
Running back Ronnie Wingo, Jr.On his touchdown run against Troy:"It all starts with the blocking. With everyone out of the way there is nothing left to do but run. I just open up my strides and go. I feel very confident in my speed and I feel like no one can catch me once I get moving."
On getting playing time:"I’m only a freshman so I have to be patient. We have a lot of running backs that are all good at different things so really I just have to wait for my turn. As competitive as we all are we still have a strong brotherhood and look out for one another in and out of the game."
On the difference between high school and college football: "Adapting to the speed of college football was the biggest adjustment. Also, learning the defenses and blitzes. I learn something new all the time like where different holes are at, even if they are difficult to see. It’s a constant progression."
On safety Jerico Nelson: "He plays relentlessly, especially for his size. He is a tough and competitive player."