FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas football head coach Houston Nutt met with media after the Razorbacks’ 42-29 loss Saturday to Kentucky. The following is a partial transcript of Sunday’s press conference:
“Naturally, (the loss) was disappointing and I’m glad we’re going right back on the field today. I’ll be with (the players) in a few minutes. There are spurts of about two or three quarters to pick out some very good things and that’s what we have to get corrected. The bottom line is if you turn the ball over, have silly, foolish mistakes and penalties at the wrong time, you can’t beat good football teams that way. You can’t do it. We have to learn how to finish and we’re going to start today and get it right.”
On the roughing-the-kicker penalty
“(Ryan) Powers did not get the call (to rush). He was hustling, but it was the wrong time. (Powers and Michael Grant) ran into each other and that was a big turning point right there.”
On potential defensive personnel moves
“We’ll discuss this and look at the film very hard and Tuesday, we’ll decide, but most of the guys who are out there are playing hard. We have to correct some things as far as alignment, foolish penalties and things like that, and to me that’s the biggest thing. We have to do better in the run. For a couple of those run stoppers, you’re missing lines, you’re in the wrong gap, you’re in wrong techniques and you can’t have missed alignments.
“(Marcus Harrison) wasn’t hurt, he just wasn’t giving us any production, so we went with somebody else.”
On Arkansas’ rushing defense
“That’s tough to swallow because we’re better than that. We’ve never had that happen to us before. You expect (Kentucky) to have that passing game because of (Andre) Woodson and their receivers and how many points they’ve scored. I thought (the defense) played just about perfect in the first half and that is what’s discouraging when you look at 20-7 and Felix (Jones) and (Darren) McFadden are out and you have a good drive going and you’re getting ready to be up at least 23-7 or 27-7, at the time, so that was discouraging.”
On not attempting a long field goal in 2nd quarter
“The way things were going, I didn’t want to give (Kentucky) that field position. I have a lot of confidence in Alex (Tejada), but I thought at that particular time, I really wanted to pin them down deep in their own territory.
“I know that from the 32- or 33-yard-line there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s three (points). No doubt.”
On the team’s mentality after loss
“We’ve been here before in this particular situation and (the players) are saying the right things. Nobody wants to win more than the players and coaches, so it really hurts. You can’t think any other way and if you do, it’s not right because this was a painful two weeks and we could have won both of them. That’s what makes it tough. So you look to your leadership and your ownership. You take that film and you see a lot of good things, a lot of good hits, a lot of (guys) playing hard, but there are some things that are getting us beat. So we’re going to get it corrected starting with coaches and the players have to follow through for us.”
On senior leadership
“I don’t have the numbers (like last season). Last year, if you recall, I had 22 or 23 seniors—that’s a lot of seniors—but I don’t have those numbers this year. The seniors have been hurt. Marcus Monk has been hurt. Marcus Harrison got in trouble and was out for a period of time. You don’t have that number or the total group leadership that we did last year, but you look at these guys like Weston Dacus and Nate Garner.
“We’ve had a lot of juniors step up—Darren McFadden, Jonathan Luigs, Felix Jones—those guys have really stepped up and done a great job. But we need a dose of medicine and that dose of medicine is a win by doing things right and executing and everybody doing their job.”
On using the WildHog formation
“Kentucky did a nice job of putting everyone up there except (for defenders) on the eligible receivers, but it was a pretty tough day as far as that goes because they had men tied up on the receivers. Everyone else was playing the run, playing McFadden. But still, even with all that, he takes the ball and he scores. That’s a big part of our offense and it’s always going to be used. Hopefully we can keep taking advantage of it.”
On finishing games
“You have to finish. You have to take care of the ball, have to be smart and not have penalties. Don’t give them anything, and when you have them, you have to really turn it on and make them say ‘give’ and it’s over. When you get to that ten-point or two-touchdown lead, we have to keep the hammer down. We have to learn how to do that.
“You knew the total senior package and those numbers and leadership, you knew that wasn’t there. So we have to teach a lot of them to go and lead. You’re depending on a guy like Marcus Monk and that was a huge blow. I know for a fact that he’s a No. 1 leader to get the most votes as a team captain, that’s an honor. He and Weston Dacus do a great job with that. They’ve been there and there are some teammates that haven’t been there.”
On the two non-conference games next on the schedule
“I think that’s the worst thing we can do to say ‘not highly touted teams, haven’t won a game.’ I’m not concerned about that. As you know, anything can happen on these crazy days. If you turn the ball over, don’t make good decisions, (make) foolish penalties, it will be a dog-fight Saturday. I’m more concerned about us. The way we’ll approach it is (to say) let’s get better, let’s start playing smarter and let’s play four quarters. We’re pretty good at two and a half, almost three quarters, but you can’t do that. It’s got to be a full 60 minutes.”
On the slow start to the season
“Losing will create a lot of things that are negative. It always has, always will. So now, how tough are we? This is where you grow up to be a man. Everyone has to pull together and get inside that circle. Can’t have friendly fire, can’t be reading newspapers and listening. You have to get really locked in now to your teammates and your coaches and go to work.”