FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The following is a brief transcript of Houston Nutt’s weekly Sunday press conference.
“It’s always good to win. Obviously we didn’t play one of our better games. I’ll tell you I want to give the defense a lot of credit. I thought they played extremely hard. Ken Hamlin has been plying his best football the last three weeks. He’s really in position. He was really aggressive the first three weeks. He’d get himself of position sometimes, but now he’s making plays and really being the quarterback in the secondary.
“Ahmad [Carroll] and Lawrence [Richardson] have covered very well. You have to give credit to the front. Gavin Walls has been very productive and Arrion Dixon had his best day as a Razorback. Wes Murphy and Brandon Holmes, these guys keep coming. They’re grades keep getting better on Sundays and that’s what you’ve got to have.
“We’ve got to get Jeb Huckeba back at the inside linebacker position. It’s nice to have Clarke Moore back with Caleb Miller. Shane [Collins] has been getting more snaps and that’s giving us some depth there. [Tony] Bua has been very solid and Gallon plays real hard. These guys run at the ball hard and have been real consistent. They’re not giving up the big plays. That’s helping us win ball games.
“Offensively, we’ve hurt ourselves. We get a god drive going and then we get a turnover. We get a touchdown called back on a penalty. We had a good drive going and here comes another penalty. We’ve never put the ball on the ground all year like that. You can’t do that against anybody and that hurts and give them hope.
“One thing we’re going to start with today is the punt. Our punt protection has been so good all year long. We moved our gunners in tight and probably shouldn’t have done that. They had a couple of different looks and then all of a sudden it’ ‘I thought you had him.’ ‘No you had him.’ You turn them completely scott-free and that hurts. We’re going to get that corrected today and just learn from it. It doesn’t matter who you play. Each time you take the field you have to buckle your chinstrap and be ready to play.
“I thought our backs ran hard. I thought Fred Talley, Cedric Cobbs and De’Arrius did a good job. Howard saved us there at the end by powering us to a first down so we could run out the clock.”
(On Arkansas’ situation in the SEC West)
“I am very happy and we’re very fortunate. The thing about this team is they have hung around and stayed together through a lot of adversity. This is going on their ninth straight week of football. It’s something different, the toughest schedule in the history of Arkansas football or close to it.
“You look at Boise State and South Florida, it comes back to the same thing. It doesn’t matter who you play you’ve got to be ready to go. Especially after watching TV last night, you get so excited about the way things are falling. But we only have one job and the job is this week. Starting today, we’re working on number eight, that’s Mississippi State. Looking back over the last four years in any indication you know that it will be a dog-fight. It’s always been four quarters or more within a touchdown or less. Always been a tough game.”
(On Matt Jones)
“Matt Jones really made some big plays for us. He’s a difference maker and when he takes care of the ball he’s really going to be something. He got us out of some bad plays yesterday. I think he really moved up and checked us into the Decori [Birmingham] check. There’s another quick three step he checked to. He’s really doing some good things.
“He had gotten much better. I promise you on that. He has a lot of confidence, but to a certain point. It has to come where it is ball security, ball consciousness. There were a couple of times after his ill-advised pitched that he comes and has a chance to do some dipsy-doodle or a pitch behind someone’s ear and he doesn’t do it. He keeps it, holds onto it, protects with three points of pressure and does everything right. It’s coming. He’s really improving.
“He never thinks he’s not going to make the play. He has so much confidence – I’m going to pitch it over this guy’s head and the guy’s going to go 80. That’s how he plays.
“Matt made the plays for us yesterday. He did it with his running ability, throws two touchdown passes, checks out of a bad play. I think David is coaching him just right. We want him to protect the ball but still make the plays. He has great hand-eye with either hand. We just don’t want pitches in traffic. If someone strings you out to the sideline like at South Carolina just eat the ball and we’ll re-huddle.”
(On Mississippi State)
“The words I’m going to use to the team are very dangerous. You know they’re so athletic, unpredictable on defense. Joe Lee Dunn is so creative. It’s always been a dog-fight always been close. We’ve got to have our best game this week.”