FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The following is a partial transcript of Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt’s Sunday press conference.
“It was good to celebrate in the locker room. There’s nothing like winning. I thought we played really hard and they played the game the way it’s supposed to be played – first class. Special teams, again was very, very good.
“Once we settled down and figured out which way they were going to blitz our offensive line blocked and protected very well. Tony (Ugoh) just got a scissor blitz on the edge (during the safety). That guy (Brandon Guillory) is a good rusher. He got a lot of sacks we saw in the Georgia game, Arkansas State and Northwestern. He’s a pass rusher and he’s very good. Tony made up for it once we figured out the blitzes. The backs hit the holes extremely well. I thought every time they did something we answered with long drives without penalties.
“I thought our defense played very well. They made a lot of stops and got us three and outs and got us the football. I was really proud overall. Weston Dacus’ hit was a big hit that kind of changed the game and sparked us. We had some new faces on the kickoff team. Mark Bonner played extremely hard and goes down there with reckless abandon. He’s going to get more.
“We were a little nervous going into the game, because we didn’t have Kyle Roper. He got hurt Tuesday and it was just a freak accident in team period. A guy stumbled into his knee and we thought it was going to be a sprained knee, but he never could get the full range of motion back. Chase Pressley really stepped up for us at right guard. Jonathan Luigs goes in at center and I think we only had one bobbled snap at the goal line. I’m really proud of the offensive line. Wes Murphy did a good job.
“I thought Robert Johnson handled himself well. He was 12 for 17, but I wish we could have hit that post. We’re going to continue to work on that. Cedric Logan stepped up for us when we didn’t have Cedric Washington. He had a strained hamstring. It’s not serious, but serious enough that he couldn’t go full speed.
“We have to continue to get better as we jump back into SEC play.”
On the play of freshmen running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones:
“I believe in them and they work so hard in practice. Their effort and acceleration to the huddle is outstanding. I know how ball-conscious they are. Coming in we knew they could run and they could play physically.
“What you don’t know is the level of contact in the SEC is massive blows and you have to be able to hold onto the football. That’s the biggest change for a high school back, the amount of contact and the level of the blow. Once in a while in high school you’d maybe get a big hit. In the SEC there’s a possibility on each play that you’re getting ready to get stripped and they’re teaching tomahawks. We feel like we know them now after being with them in practice over this period of time.
“They have second and third efforts and they love football. They play with a high level of intensity unlike true freshmen. They cut and they’ll get their man down. They’re fun to watch. Playing without the ball is overlooked because no one sees that. They’re playing unselfishly.”
On shutting down the Louisiana-Monroe offense:
“I thought Reggie Herring had a good game plan of keeping them off balance. He added a few different types of looks with blitzes. We probably pressured more this year than last year and our corners were on top of the quarterback.
“I think this team will probably have a good chance to win the Sun Belt Conference, because of the mixture of options. They have radar, the shot gun and the boot leg, on top of the spread offense passing game.”
“They are talented and Tommy (Tuberville) says this is probably one of the most talented teams he has had. You can see why defensively, with those linebackers. They are so fast. You can see why they went 13-0 last year. They have good, big men in front and a very active secondary.
“Offensively, they have some backs that are running hard. Brandon Cox, besides maybe the first game, is not making mistakes. He’s not throwing interceptions or turning the ball over. They have a lot of confidence going right now.
Keys to getting out early against Auburn:
“We’ve got to take care of the football and not beat ourselves. We have to execute, block and tackle and stop the run and be able to run the ball. We’ve got to throw some balls too. This game is going to be a rock ‘em, sock ‘em type game. You’ll have to buckle up both chinstraps. You’ll have to execute in the passing game and protect against a very good defensive line. If you watch the South Carolina, Georgia Tech and Mississippi State games, they don’t give up much on defense.”