Houston Nutt Press Conference Transcript
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The following is a partial transcript of Houston Nutt’s press conference on Friday, following the game against South Carolina.
“The one good thing about playing on Thursday is when you get to have that type of audience and exposure, there’s nothing like winning one like that,” Nutt said. “It sure helps recruiting. I know our coaches are glad to be out today. We had some very positive calls this morning and that’s what Thursday night does when you’re the only team playing in front of a national audience. It really helps, so we’re very appreciative of that.
“I thought our players handled a short week in a warrior-like attitude with great energy and effort,” Nutt said. “I’m just really proud. We started the game off in the worst possible way by fumbling the opening kickoff and putting them in a great position to get on the board first. I thought our defense played fast and ran to the ball. The defensive front again turns in another fine performance with Arrion Dixon, Justin Scott, Jeb Huckeba and Elliot Harris; you expect it from them. The guys I’m really proud of are those true freshmen, Keith Jackson, Jeremy Harrell and Titus Peebles. They’re really improving. It’s been a team effort there. That was one of the areas we were most concerned with coming into the season. Coach Rocker has done an excellent job.
“Our linebackers, Sam Olajubutu, Caleb Miller played extremely well, as well as Jimmy Beasley and Jimarr Gallon,” Nutt said. “Caleb keeps having a stinger and has to come in and out, but he fights through it. Sam does a great job of reading the quarterback’s eyes and had another interception and Jimarr had one. I’m proud of them. We’ve got to get him (Jimarr) some ball handling drills so he can hold onto to the ball.
“The secondary was very disciplined,” Nutt said. “Tony Bua was outstanding. Lawrence and Bat (Ahmad Carroll), all the guys were very disciplined. They just played football in a class manner to have three penalties. That was one of our goals. I loved the way the defense ran at the end of the third quarter. They ran to the other end of the field on a sprint to tell everybody that they still had energy and passion for the fourth quarter. That was great.
“Offensively our line did an excellent job of blocking, creating holes and running room for DeCori, De’Arrius, Cedric and Mark Pierce,” Nutt said. “Matt Jones did an outstanding job of making decisions and throwing to backs, tight ends and receivers. I was very pleased. I really thought he found the second and third receivers for the first time on a very consistent basis. That was good to see. The receivers just keep getting better.
“For our special teams we talked about field position and tried to emphasize that all week,” Nutt said. “David Carlton kicked the ball out of the end zone. You can’t say enough for that, when you make an opponent go 80 yards in a very tough environment. Jacob Skinner is an outstanding punter that had great hang time and changed the end of the field. That’s a big positive to win that field position.
“There’s a guy I’ve got to mention that has played outstanding the past two weeks, Vickiel Vaughn,” Nutt said. “He’s improving and knocked down a sure touchdown pass, defends that. Comes up on a screen, gets off a big tackle to go and make another one. Then he causes a fumble.
“It was a great night and a big win for us,” Nutt said. “This was new territory for us to have such a quick turnaround and play on a Thursday night, especially after seven overtimes. There were a lot of heroes, but the staff deserves a lot of credit for getting the players ready. Our players for making the blocks and tackles that we needed.”
On holding South Carolina to one touchdown in three years:
“Dave (Wommack) and the staff did a great job,” Nutt said. “That’s a big statement right there, especially to spot them on the 25-yard line on the first play of the game and to be able to rise up and put out the fire. That was awesome.”
On Matt Jones:
“I’m a Matt Jones fan and that’s why he’s still the quarterback,” Nutt said. “He’s improved. He’s always cool and laid back. He’s around his teammate more and he’s more involved in the game. I think ever since we started Ryan Sorahan I think it helped his focus, because he doesn’t know when he’s going in the game. I think that’s helped. He’s doing some awfully good things to lead the team right now.”
Playing New Mexico State:
“We’ve got to keep getting better,” Nutt said. “It’s tough when you jump out of the conference and you’re in a heated battle. It’s no disrespect to jumping out of the conference, but after you play SEC, SEC and then you jump out it’s a hard thing. We’ve got to do a great job of realizing what’s at stake in November. This is a very important game. It’s going to determine a lot what happens with bowl games and polls, everything that comes at the end of a year. Anybody can beat anybody on any given Saturday. We’ve had two very tough games and that’s why we wanted our players to get away and come back Sunday fresh. We’re going to really set the tempo on Sunday.”
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