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Houston Nutt Press Conference – 12th Man Huge Against Tennessee

Houston Nutt Press Conference – 12th Man Huge Against Tennessee

Fayetteville, Ark. – Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt held his weekly press conference on Sunday after the Razorbacks’31-17 win against Tennessee. Below is a brief transcript of Coach Nutt’s comments.

Opening Comments…

“It was a great atmosphere. We appreciate ESPN having GameDay here. For the recruits that we had here and also the official visits we had in, we have really taken advantage of it. I want to thank our fans, the students that camped out all week. The atmosphere was the best I think I have ever witnessed here. From the moment we got here, the walk through, the pre-game to the game, (the fans were) the true 12th man. They were really in to every play. The noise level was just awesome. My hat is off; I just want to thank them.”

“The defense played extremely well. They played very hard. I thought they kept the quarterback off balance for most of the night. Jamaal Anderson deserves a lot of that credit. They just constantly harassed the quarterback and hurried him. Antwain Robinson, Ernest Mitchell has really stepped up his play. He has played very well. Keith Jackson is a real leader for us. It’s good to have Sam Olajubutu back. There is not a better time to have a guy like Darius Vinnett come back. We needed him especially with Michael Grant down. That has really helped us. John Johnson has gotten well and that helps us with the nickel and dime packages. We needed it for a night like that with that many seasoned wide receivers.”

“Kevin Woods stepped in and did a good job for us. He played the ball well. He got an interception and made about nine tackles. He did a real good job for his start.”

“Offensively, our offensive line probably played one of their best games. I really think the strength of our offensive and defensive lines, I have to give a lot of credit to Don (Decker, UA head strength and conditioning coach) and his staff for keeping these guys strong. It seems like we get stronger as it goes, especially in November. You have to give credit to (the strength and conditioning staff) for maintaining that strength.”

“Wes Murphy and Andrew Davie, both the tight ends did a good job of blocking. Darren McFadden running that football, he’s got some holes to go through against a good defense. That’s a defense that is very athletic, very talented. I was really proud of them.”

“Felix Jones keep them off balance. To have two quality backs like that keeps the defense off balance. On top of that, Casey Dick was throwing the ball very accurately. Marcus Monk hit a couple of good fade routes. That is really big especially when everybody is at the line of scrimmage.”

“Brian Vavra is kicking the ball very well for us, giving us hang time, kicking the ball out of the end zone. It gives our coverage teams a chance to cover. Jacob Skinner continues to do the job and then Jeremy Davis hits a quality field goal.”

“I’m just really pleased. It was a tremendous effort. Right from the start, they were just so in to it. We knew by practice this week that we would be ready. You don’t ever know that you will jump on a team like this. But we jumped on them early and that was really good.”

On the injuries sustained against Tennessee…

“(Peyton Hillis) went to the hospital last night and probably will be out this week. The early summary is that he will probably be out. He’s a quick healer but we will see. It’s a bruised thigh with some swelling. It doesn’t look good.”

“(Stephen Parker) doesn’t look good either. Parker is probably going to be out this game. It’s that time of year, getting beat up. Kevin Woods will be okay. Casey Dick and Marcus Monk, I think they will be okay.”

“(Casey Dick) took (Darren) McFadden’s knee into his knee or right above the knee. (Marcus Monk) has bruised ribs. He’s going to get x-rayed right now but I think he will be all right. It’s a pretty tough injury.”

On using Darren McFadden at quarterback…

“It really hurts defenses when they have to try to zero in on one thing. It presents more problems.”

“He kids with Danny (Nutt, UA running backs coach) about throwing more, this route or that route. I have a lot of confidence in him. If you watch him throw after practice, he is very accurate and he throws a beautiful deep ball. I have seen him throw at least 65-70 yards (on a long ball). He’s got a strong arm.”

On the progress of the team since the Southern Cal game…

“I knew that we had a good team unlike what everyone else was saying. I knew that we did. I knew if we could keep our team together inside those walls, keep believing and keep working. I knew we had a good defense. If you look at how our defense played the first game, they played extremely well. Offensively, we turned the ball over five times. You can’t beat anybody that way.”

On keeping focused since the Southern Cal game…

“They are really zeroed in. I have to give the credit to the seniors. They are so committed. They had two tough years. If you look at Keith Jackson, Darius Vinnett and the surgeries he has been through. These guys have been through a lot. Zac Tubbs and his surgery, his injuries. All these guys have had a lot of adversity. They have hung in there and led by example, lead with an attitude and work ethic and they put blinders on. They are just so focused. They have a lot of the characteristics of the 1998 team. They are tough, mentally and physically, and they have great heart. They’ll do anything to win. And that’s the difference.”

On the biggest challenge in facing Mississippi State…

“This is it. This is championship week. This is where you take it. You are the sole owner of the western division championship. That’s what these seniors deserve. All emphasis will be put on this (game). This is Super Bowl week. It’s this week and it’s in Starkville. It’s not one of the easier trips to take. It’s a tough place.”

On the offensive line…

“Tony Ugoh is playing at a high level. He had seven knock-downs and graded in at 91 percent. Jonathan Luigs is another guy who is grading out very high. (Stephen) Parker was playing very well until he went down. He had six knock-downs and graded out around 85, 87 percent but what a competitor. (Jeremy Harrell) replaced Parker and had 33 plays. He did really well. He’s the guy know; he’ll be starting.”

On interrupting Tennessee’s offense…

“Jamaal Anderson was outstanding. Antwain Robinson, Ernest Mitchell, those guys are playing hard. We were able to put some pressure on them up front and hurried the quarterback and kept him off balance. Chris Houston and Matterral Richardson locked on to those receivers all game long mixing in some nickel and dime packages with Darius Vinnett and John Johnson.”

On playing in Fayetteville…

“Home has always been advantage for us. We have always taken advantage of the home field. Since 1998, home has been an advantage. You have to do that in the SEC because it is too hard. If you can’t play well at home, it’s too hard (to play on the road).”

On Mississippi State’s momentum…

“They are feeling good. They are rejuvenated, they are excited. They got some injured guys back. Their quarterback is back that got hurt early. To go to Alabama and win and then have a week off, we have our work cut out for us. There is no question about it. I can’t think of a time when we have been playing here or in Starkville when it hasn’t been close. It’s always been overtime or neck-and-neck. Expect for last year in Little Rock and (Coach Croom) he is going to remind them about that. You know they are going to be gunned and ready to finish out strong.”

Sports Category : Football