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Houston Nutt Press Conference

Houston Nutt Press Conference

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The following is a transcript of Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt’s Sunday press conference following the Mississippi State game.
Opening Comments:
“I was very happy with our team and the effort they gave yesterday. They never gave up. We made it hard on ourselves at the end. We gave them a gift with the fumble in the first half. Our defense had constant pressure on their quarterback.
“Carlos Hall, Jermaine Petty and Raymond House all played well. Petty is playing like an All-American. Not only in tackling, but in dropping back in the passing lanes.
“The effort and attitude these guys have is just outstanding. It would have been easy to quit when we got behind with 2:07 left, but they had the attitude that we were going to get this done.”

Were there any signs of panic late in the game?
“I didn’t see it from them. They are very confident. I think they were more disgusted than anything. There were a couple of drives where we hurt ourselves.”

Is this team final getting respect?
“I think so. That is what we are proud of. We’ve got one more game and we have to keep improving. I start with the seniors because they kept us together.”

How does a team get chemistry?
“You can define it. You want togetherness, unselfishness and character. You can write it out, but you can’t make it happen. I know what we try to get with people we recruit but it doesn’t always happen. We got off to a bad start and you can tell them about how tough the schedule is, but they don’t want to hear that. Carlos Hall, Sacha Lancaster, Jermaine Petty, Curt Davis, Kenny Sandlin, Shannon Money and La’Zerius White, that is the core of our leadership. And they trigger it and it was contagious.”

What triggered the offensive resurgence?
“When we put Shawn Andrews in as a starter was the first thing. And that moved Kenny Sandlin at center and Mark Bokermann from tackle to guard. That made us stronger up front and got things going. We made that change at Alabama and saw instant improvement. Then against Georgia, we got Matt Jones in at wide receiver. Then he really got going against Weber State. Then we had two weeks to prepare for South Carolina and that’s when everything came together.”

What will the road-win over Ole Miss do for this week?
“It gave us confidence. Anytime you go on the road it helps you tremendously. The win yesterday helped, having to come back to win. This is a different group from the one that went to LSU two years ago. Everybody knows what is at stake now. The players said it before we left the locker room on Saturday, we are still fighting for an SEC championship. And that’s true. We have a lot at stake. It’s hard to believe that this team which was 1-3 still has a chance to go to Atlanta.”

Were you concerned with Brennan O’Donohoe’s kicking yesterday?
“He needs to be more consistent. But I’m happy with the one he did get. It would have been nice to get the other two. He just needs to have confidence he is going to hit it.”

How do you keep the team focused and not look ahead to a bowl game?
“It won’t take much. LSU beat Mississippi State 42-0 and they are a hot team. We have to go down there with great intensity. They have tremendous athletes. We can’t afford to look ahead right now.”

Talk about Cedric Cobbs’ performance:
“He looked good. He has been practicing very hard. Fred Talley and Brandon Holmes have been encouraging him. And he has been encouraging them. It goes back to the chemistry. He is a better outside runner. He can make people miss. But in the middle, it is not as natural for him than running a sweep or something.”

Talk about the two-quarterback system:
“I’ve been very pleased with it. Just like yesterday on the last drive. Zak Clark made two big throws after being cold on the bench. He knew right where to go with it. We need both Matt Jones and Zak right now.”

Talk about Jimarr Gallon:
“He brings energy and speed. He has been making plays and big hits. And his energy is contagious. That is the biggest thing that he brings. He started making a move about mid-year. He was hurt early on. Once he got healthy and got some snaps he started picking things up.”

Talk about the end of the Mississippi State game:
“I thought we scored too soon. I really thought we left too much time on the clock. It only took us 47 seconds. But, I’ve got a lot of confidence in our defense. They hadn’t moved the ball on us all day, then they kind of hit a run. It seemed like we were out of sync on about five or six plays.”

How has the defensive line improved?
“Jermaine Brooks told me about three or four weeks ago that we were going to see a new defensive line. And since then, they have been a force. All those guys have been consistent and have stepped up and made some plays. We’re not as big, but we are very quick.”

Talk about having a short week to practice:
“I’m a little glad in a sense. Because of all the things that are happening with bowls, I think it will help keep us focused. We won’t change too much.”

What is the injury situation?
“Marvin Jackson is probably the worst. He has a severely sprained ankle. Caleb Miller still has a sore shoulder. Guys are going to be sore this time of year, but the one I’m worried about is Marvin.”

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