Houston Nutt Press Conference - Hewitt Moves to Linebacker

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt addressed the media in his weekly press conference on Sunday. Below is a brief transcript of the press conference.

(Opening Comments)

“It’s always good to win. When you watch the film, you know we can be much better. There is nothing like going into your first road game in the SEC and winning, especially in a close game. I think it will really help us. We have to continue to get better in all areas. There is still a lot of room for improvement and I think after the players watch the film, they are going see how much better they can be and that’s at every position.”

“I think some of the bright spots were the kickers. Brian Vavra hit the ball very well. We had our first touchback of the season. Jacob Skinner continues to be very consistent for us; along with Brett Goode, our snapper, doing an excellent job. And then Jeremy Davis. I wish we had got those three points. We’ll get that offensive line corrected as far as the alignment on the field goal. Robert (Felton) was in the backfield and Jonathan Luigs lined up. Jonathan got called for it and he lines up on Robert. We’ll get that corrected. I wished we had got those three points. I think it would have helped Jeremy (Davis) but he’s kicking the ball well. We have got to keep that going.”

“Defensively, there were some good stops all day long, important stops. There were some times we had them stopped and we slipped out of tackles and missed tackles. We have to get that corrected this week.”

“Offensively, I think there are a few things. We can block better. Our backs can run better. We can throw and catch even better (then we did this weekend). There are things we can still do better but still, there is nothing like winning. We’ll learn off this film.”

(On correcting the missed tackles; the defensive injuries)

“We have had some live tackling. The past couple of Tuesdays and Wednesdays we’ve seen (coach) Louis Campbell’s one-on-one, he was live tackling. What’s hard is the linebacker spot because we are so thin. Sam (Olajubutu) doesn’t get to come off the field at all. He’s also on our punt team.”

“We are going to make a move there (at the linebacker spot). We are going to move Matt Hewitt down to linebacker. That should help us for a little bit. We are going to keep Weston Dacus at middle linebacker, where he doesn’t have to play all three (situations). Sam Olajubutu will stay at will (linebacker) and we’ll have Desmond Sims back up Sam (Olajubutu). Wendel Davis will back up Dacus. Adrian Davis will back up Matt Hewitt. We don’t know how fast (Matt Hewitt) can come but we feel pretty good about it. Right now we will go with that. I don’t know if Matt (Hewitt) is going to start but we will see how it goes. (Matt Hewitt) is physical, he’s a big guy. He runs well.”

“Ryan Powers popped a hamstring. We don’t know; it doesn’t look good for this week. We will just have to wait and see. He was really coming on. It was very surprising. He warmed up good, made the first tackle on the kick off. He did an outstanding job on the kick off team.”

“Injuries are part of it. There is nothing you can do. You have to play with the hand that you have, that’s all we can do.”

(On Mark Bonner’s injury)

“We asked Dean (Weber, Arkansas’ Director of Athletic Training) about that this morning. He’s getting better. We’re hoping we can get him back. I think it will be doubtful this week.”

(On what he attributed Vanderbilt’s long runs to)

“That’s not being where you are supposed to be, that’s number one. Not getting in your gap, not getting off a block. If you watched it, you’re not where you are supposed to be. We were a little bit out of position; it’s a missed assignment. Be where you are supposed to be.”

(On the defense and preparing for Alabama)

“We have to really zero in (on missed assignments/tackles) this week (especially with a physical running team like Alabama), it’s very critical. You know what you are going to get (this week). They are very physical; they feel like they have improved each week. They are 3-0. You know they are going to hand the ball to (Kenneth) Darby, that’s no secret. We have to do a lot better job this week.”

(On calling a timeout with one minute left to play)

“It was either way. You could save it. I’ve been trying to be really conscious of, we did it in the first two games, keeping timeouts, especially in the second half because of the new clocks rules. We have been really conscious of that. I just felt like, for whatever reason, now is the time (to use the timeout). Deep down, in my mind, I didn’t think they would kick it. I thought they would go for it. I thought it would be a fake field goal or they would change and go into a regular formation to get the first down. It was a pretty long field goal. It was almost 50 yards really. I really just wanted to caution everybody about a fake (field goal). I wanted to talk to the defense about a fake.”

(On winning a close game)

“We have won a lot of close games. Compared to last year’s Vanderbilt game, it was the exact opposite. Things fell in our favor. It’s so good to win one like that because it’s going to help us. It’s going to help our confidence. It’s going too boost our team morale. You should really grow from that. It was a great experience for us.”

“It’s the greatest feeling in the world to have a celebrated locker room. Everybody on the sideline played a role, from every trainer, every equipment manager and every team member. When you win a game like that it brings everybody closer together. Hopefully, you are better the next time you go out in an SEC game.”

(On winning an SEC road game)

“They are all big. It’s not Vanderbilt of the old, I keep saying that. I respect their defense. They are very hard and physical. Their quarterback keeps getting better. He’s athletic. It’s not easy.”

(On McFadden and the running game being stopped but being successful in other areas)

“I think it helps us. We have been trying to strive for balance for a long time. They have to pay attention to Marcus Monk; London Crawford stepped up, Damian Williams. Ben Cleveland has caught some balls. Cedric Washington, Robert Johnson, all these guys continue to be threats and weapons for us and we can keep people off balance. It’ll help us. You always want a good running game. You know they are going to make you play left handed. You know they are going to over-populate the line of scrimmage, so what are you going to do? That’s where Mitch (Mustain) did a nice job. He threw some nice balls to get us out of the hole, especially the deep balls to Marcus Monk and London Crawford and then when he scrambled out to hit Marcus Monk. Marcus (Monk) showed some speed going down the line and when he escaped the would-be tackler on the sideline.”

(On Mitch Mustain’s performance)

“He keeps getting better. I was proud of him. It was his first SEC road game and I thought he managed the game well. There are probably a couple of balls he’d like to have back. Other then that, he was pretty good.”

(On Jeremy Davis)

“There is not that much difference (between his performance in August and now). The thing that James Shibest has kept telling us is that Jeremy is a competitor, a guy that has competed on the golf course. I think he understands pressure, probably better then most. When he knew he was going to be in the running, he really reached down and both (Davis and Stephen Arnold) of them did. Both of them were competing and both of them wanted the job. It’s just a gut feeling, you go with the one you feel like is the best. He’s got to keep coming.”

“There hasn’t been any real clear cut ‘he’s the guy, he’s the strongest leg, he’s the guy who is going to make it every time’, that has been the problem. We are just going to keep kicking everyday and see who’s going to look good all the way into warm-up”

“It’s big on the psyche (making the 44-yard field goal even though the penalty was called). It’s big on the mind. It tells him ‘next time I’m going to do the same thing’. There is nothing like confidence, being out there on the field in a game situation and knowing ‘I have done this before’.”

(On Vanderbilt stopping the running game)

“They are hard nosed. It was a combination. Some plays we blocked perfectly and we had some good runs because of them. There were some plays where we didn’t block so well. One thing about Vanderbilt, they are always chasing the ball. They have hard-hitting linebackers and safeties and they will hit you. That’s why they played Alabama toe-to-toe for three quarters. They are right there."