FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt held his weekly press conference on Sunday in the wake of the Razorbacks’ 24-23 double-overtime win against Alabama. Below is a brief transcript of Coach Nutt’s comments.
“As always, we are really proud to win. It was another good victory against a very good Alabama team, a top-25 team. It is good to be 2-0 on the western (division) side. I was really proud of our defense. After last week, we had one emphasis stop the run. They did that. They did a good job of stopping the run and keying on (Kenneth) Darby. I thought our guys really played well up front. I was proud of Ernest Mitchell for coming in and starting. He did some things that he hadn’t done before. I was proud of him. Jamaal Anderson did an excellent job of putting pressure on the quarterback and sacking the quarterback. Antwain Robinson did the same thing. He knocked the ball out of the quarterback’s hand so Randy Kelly could scoop and score on our first turnover.
“Sam Olajubutu, there just aren’t enough words to describe that guy. He is very, very focused. He is the heart and soul of our defense. I was very proud of him. Matt Hewitt stepped up. Weston Dacus had a lot of tackles also. Adrian Davis and Wendel Davis really made some plays. In the secondary we really relied on Chris Houston and Matterral Richardson. They probably had about 70 plays a piece or more. I’m proud of Randy Kelly. I think Elston Forte came in and made some very physical plays.
“We can’t give up the big plays. If there is one thing, we can’t give up the third downs. We can do much better of getting where we are supposed to get and get positioning right. We just can’t give up an 80-yard play. Boy, but time and time again they made some big stops and stopped the run.
“Offensively, I was a little bit disappointed offensively because I know we are better. The reason I know we are better is because two weeks in a row we have had drives of 93 yards. Yesterday was no exception. When we execute, when we do what we are supposed to do, we have a chance to keep teams off balance. We can run the ball and we can throw it.
“Mitch (Mustain) didn’t have his best game. He went against a very good defense that (Alabama defensive coordinator) Joe Kines has them well-disciplined. He does such a good job of mixing up coverages and mixing up blitzes. He kept Mitch off balance a little bit. He wasn’t throwing the ball as well as he usually does. From the very first fade on, for whatever reason, he wasn’t as accurate as he normally is, but when he had to make a throw, he made it and Ben Cleveland caught it. That was critical.
“I was glad for Jeremy Davis to be able to come back and hit an extra point. The bottom line is after a victory like that they are going to see the film today and see how much better they can get. When we get the ball inside the 50 or at midfield in the first quarter, it has to be 10-0 or 14-0. It has got to be. That was the most disappointing thing of the day for me.”
(On play of Matt Hewitt and Ernest Mitchell)
“Matt Hewitt looked like he was really natural. It means so much to him. And in this kind of game you have to be physical because you know they are going to come right at you. He put his face mask in there. He had no fear. He acted like he had played a few games (at linebacker). The truth is that it was his first snaps at linebacker, ever. I was real proud of Matt. He had 57 snaps and had nine tackles. That is not easy to get baptized against Alabama in your very first start. He did an excellent job.
“Ernest Mitchell held his gap. He did some things he hadn’t done before like getting penetration, getting in the backfield, making the back go the other way. He did it consistently. He had 57 snaps and had three tackles and a hurry. It couldn’t have come at a better time. We needed all of them. Keith Jackson played well. Jamaal Anderson, I mentioned, Chris Wade, Cord Gray, Malcolm Sheppard and Marcus Shavers had about 10 plays. We needed all of them.”
(On Randy Kelly’s play)
“Randy played well. He had 68 snaps, but the key is he had 16 tackles. He had our first turnover of the year a scoop and score. It was great to see that. Those were points we needed desperately. I thought he was pretty physical. He was even banged up a little bit. He played through it.”
(On liking overtime)
“I’ve always had good experience from Murray State on with overtime. We have taught our guys that we are going to win in overtime. Our guys feel good. I thought our offensive line had a different look. When their kicker missed the extra point, our offensive line said this is our game, every one of them in the huddle before we took the field. I loved the look and the things they were saying. Jonathan Luigs probably played his best game as a Razorback. He really was outstanding. He blocked the nose guard and reached him all night. He had a bunch of knockdowns. I was really proud of Jonathan.”
(On being 3-1 and 2-0 in the SEC)
“I just know that we are 2-0. We are 2-0 for the first time since 1998. That is a great feeling. The only thing I’ve been thinking about is Auburn and going into that hostile environment. I haven’t dwelled on that.”
(On Darren McFadden getting stronger as the game went on)
“Darren got stronger. That was the best with his foot and his movement. He has been stumbling a lot. It goes back to missing a month of practice and coming off toe surgery. I just think he is getting better and better and better. I think the more he touches it the better he was running.
“He probably still isn’t 100 percent, but he is getting closer and closer. The run he made on the goal line for the touchdown was really a strong run. Because No. 42 (Juwon Simpson) is really quick and it scared me when he popped out there. I said ‘Oh no, he might not make it.’ But he is getting stronger and faster.”