FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Following the Razorbacks’ 34-15 win over Chattanooga Saturday in Little Rock, Arkansas football head coach Houston Nutt spoke with the media. The following is a partial transcript of Sunday’s press conference.
“It’s always good to win. The one thing that stood out was the lack of execution. Those first few minutes were horrible and (we) got off on the wrong foot. I liked the way we came out in the second half. The defense, I thought they really stepped up and got three-and-outs and gave great field position for us to finally put it away.
“It just goes to show you that in this day and age, you better be ready to go every Saturday. You can’t take anyone for granted, I don’t care who you play. You better be ready. Just like I told them at halftime, there are a few guys (on the Chattanooga team) that have transferred from Purdue, Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Illinois and these guys have one thing on their mind. It’s a Super Bowl and they’re going to play you as hard as they can, and they did. You have to give them credit. Tennessee-Chattanooga and Coach (Rodney) Allison’s group did a great job and came in and played hard.
“The bottom line is we won the game. You take it and learn from it. Now you get ready to go right back in to SEC play. We can’t wait to get out on the practice field today. I think our guys will be the first to tell you after watching the (game) film, especially the first five or six minutes when they thought they could just roll that Razorback helmet out there in front of a great crowd and do exactly what they did against North Texas, it just doesn’t work that way.
“That’s why when you score 66 points and things do go right, it’s a good feeling. We knew after that game that doesn’t always happen. That means everyone is playing well on special teams, you have a defense that is playing well and the offense is executing. You have to take care of the ball and we didn’t do those things, so it’s a good lesson. Now it’s time to get back on the field and get ready.”
On Arkansas’ slow start against Chattanooga
“I gave you a heads up Tuesday when I said I didn’t like the way we practiced. That’s usually the first sign. We didn’t have that in that North Texas week. We had very good concentration. Guys were really down after a couple of weeks and the focus was outstanding. The thing I like about this bunch is when you do get on them and talk to them hard, they come out and they give it to you. They came out in the third quarter and really fought hard. I thought our defense stepped up.”
On team preparation for conference play
“It’s about improving every day. It’s about everybody doing their job. It takes 11 men on offense. Eight will not get it done, nine won’t get it done—not even to gain four yards. Even with one of the greatest backfields in Arkansas history, everybody has to do their part. It’s about practice, preparation and getting ready.”
On the influence of the first play on the rest Saturday’s game
“We spot them (a lead of) 2-0. You give them life, you give them hope. It’s so easy for a team on the road like that and it takes all the wind out of your sails. The crowd is out of it. No question that had a lot to do with it.”
On Marcus Harrison
“I thought (Marcus) Harrison really stepped up. I was really proud of him and the way he played. For the first time, I saw some fast-twitch (movement), getting off blocks and making some plays. I was proud of him.”
On starting Wade Grayson at left guard
“(Offensive line coach) Mike (Markuson) came to me on Thursday and he just thought (Wade) had the better week. He’s a guy that really hustles around fundamentally. What’s amazing is that Mitch Petrus probably played one of his better games when he got in for about 30 snaps, he was a ball of fire. I think it was good for both of them. We’ll see how this week goes.
On Peyton Hillis
“(Peyton) caught a crossing route for a touchdown. That was a great play. He’s a very valuable receiver, as well as a (valuable) runner. His role will keep increasing.”
On Jerell Norton returning punts
“(Jerell) did some very good things. He caught the ball well and made our longest (punt return) run of the year to give us a little hope back there. There’s no way he can make that kind of decision (to field a ball that is rolling on the ground). You can’t be crazy and freelance back there. You have to be smart. Hopefully this week, he’ll understand he can not ever gamble with the ball like that.”
On fourth-and-one play from the Chattanooga 45-yard line in the third quarter
“Usually I would (punt). I wanted to give us a jump start so bad. I was tired of stopping and putting the defense right back out there. I thought it was a yard and there was no way that we wouldn’t be able to get that first down and get going. But again, the defense was very good and they bailed us out right there.”
On Darren McFadden
“(Darren) was very frustrated. He was trying so hard and didn’t have a good night. I know that hurts him because he really wanted to excel, especially right there in Little Rock, his hometown. He had every intention and wanted to get the (UA career rushing) record. I think that’s been on him. That’s a little extra pressure he puts on himself. You just have to go back and say the reason you got to this point is by playing within yourself, trying to get four yards, locking the ball up. If you look at all the little things—he made a nice block on pass protection. He’s wanting to (perform) awfully bad, but again, I think he’ll really rebound from this game and use it to better himself.”
On the Auburn running backs
“They’re very good. (Brad) Lester just got back this week. You can tell he’s very fresh. He’s a hard runner, fast. (Mario) Fannin can catch the ball very well. He gives them another spark. (Ben) Tate is more of a physical back. So they have three very good ones. They’re very athletic on defensive. To me, they don’t look any different than they always look.”
On last season’s win at Auburn
“(That win) took the season to another level because they were ranked No. 2 in the country. No one really gave us a chance down there last year. I think our defensive and offensive lines really graded high. That’s the first thing that comes to my mind. You go down there in that environment and it’s a great feeling. It was a good win. Any time you play an SEC team, it means so much. (This week) is a big game.”