FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The following is a partial transcript of Arkansas head football coach Houston Nutt’s weekly media press conference. The Razorbacks defeated Mississippi State 44-10 on Saturday and will face No. 3 LSU in Baton Rouge on Friday.
“I’m really proud of our football team, especially since the second half of the Ole Miss game and then following up with Mississippi State in Little Rock. The effort has been outstanding. The defense is growing up and getting better. Jamaal Anderson, Keith Jackson, Desmond Sims and Marcus Harrison those guys just played very, very hard. Once again, they set the tempo. I’ve been really proud of our defense.
“Our special teams played well. Felix Jones just continues to get better and better. His kickoff return was an awfully big play. They had just scored and he just really puts out any hope they have with that 100-yard return. Jacob Skinner didn’t have to punt much, but the times that he did punt he had great hang time and we covered. I’ve been real proud of that area.
“Offensively the concern is when you don’t have Kyle Roper, Jonathan Luigs goes to center and Jeremy Harrell starts and then lo and behold Stephen Parker goes down. He strained a hamstring severely. He probably will not practice all week and is doubtful for the game. Mitch Petrus comes in and plays extremely hard. I’m glad that we have him right there.
“We may have Kyle Roper back this week and what we would do is leave Luigs right where he is at center. Then we would move Roper to left guard and let Petrus back him up. We will see as the week goes, but that is the way we would go right now. That will definitely be Jonathan’s spot next year and he is in a groove right now. We don’t want to switch him back. It’s easier for Kyle to go to guard because of his knowledge and experience.
“We got the running game going again. Overall, I’m just very proud of the effort and the attitude our guys have had.”
(On how much the offensive playbook has expanded since Casey Dick has been quarterback)
“We’ve really expanded it. This past week, we really prepared to go three wideouts and four wideouts. We have just about everything in from the screens and draws to the true drop back package and shotgun. You aren’t afraid to turn him loose a little bit. We have expanded it quite a bit in a few weeks period.
“Just watching the Ole Miss game last night was scary because how tough and physical their lines are and how big they are. They are so good in the pass rush. We have to study them hard and see what gives us the best chance to win. We have to see who is healthy (on our team) and play to our strengths.
“The thing about LSU is that they have just been dominant and in everyone’s backfield. In watching the game last night, it was hard for Ole Miss to try to get back to the line of scrimmage a lot of times. They are just so quick and fast and playing at a high level of confidence right now. They know that this is the game right here.”
(On how much last two wins have helped this team)
“It means a lot. Naturally when things aren’t going well and the adversity that we have had, being so close, it just really hurts. Winning is the fun part about it. If you could’ve seen the locker room the last few weeks that is what you coach for. To see 18 and 19-year olds with that kind of smile and the feeling you have when everyone is working together it is a great feeling. To answer your question it has been huge for us.”
(On importance of this game for Arkansas)
“I think it is really important. I think our guys know. We are playing like it is a bowl trip for us. We are playing for a trophy (The Boot). To me it is going to help determine how far we have come since September. I wish we were a little more healthy in the offensive line. I wish we could (Stephen) Parker back, but it is doubtful. That has been the toughest thing is to keep the consistency and healthy on the offensive line. Our running backs are getting better. They are starting to get a feel for the schemes and the creases and they are getting better. You just wish you had full-speed guys up there to carry it through. But we will take what we have and see what happens. This is a big game and a big opportunity for us.”
— HOGS —