Assistant coach Roy Wittke counts his lucky stars for Houston Nutt and hopes to be at Arkansas for a long time. Wittke made those comments Monday morning as the Hogs broke for the Christmas break after a 25-minute workout that was mainly conditioning drills. Wittke smiled as the day ended because he knew he could turn his attention to a move into a brand new house in Fayetteville.
"My family is over joyed," said Wittke, the Hogs' quarterback coach and passing game coordinator.
"We close on our new home at 9 a.m. Tuesday and hope to begin moving things into it at 10 a.m. Tuesday. We couldn't be more excited about being at Arkansas, living in Fayetteville, coaching on this staff and moving into a new home. We are so happy here and that goes for myself and every member of my family"
Wittke hired a builder to construct his family's dream home last spring after coming to Arkansas and had to wait until it was finished to move in this week.
"This is really something we are excited about and it's not just about the home," he said. "My time at Arkansas could not have gone better, and we hope to be here for years and years to come. Everyone at Arkansas, from the top all the way through the support staff has been so good to me and my family.
"I feel blessed to come to work every day with this coaching staff and that starts with Houston Nutt. Houston has been great to work with and I mean that in every way. Houston brings tremendous energy and class to the job as head coach. He runs a program in the right way in every respect and that starts with the kids and their future as people. That is his number one priority."
Wittke laughed when told that there were some rumors on the internet that he and Nutt had had a falling out earlier in the season and that he would soon be leaving the program.
"Well, in this profession, you never know what is around the corner, but I will say that that rumor is the farthest thing from the truth," he said. "You can bury that one. We've had a wonderful relationship throughout the year. The chemistry between myself, Coach Nutt and the staff could not be better. I'll tell you that straight off.
"I absolutely love working for and with Houston Nutt. First off, he is very good about taking suggestions from both myself and the rest of our offensive staff. The play calling has worked exactly the way I anticipated and was told it would work. I suggest plays and so do other members of the staff and Houston takes those suggestions into hand before calling the plays. It's worked very well all season. We share the same goals and commitment to win the SEC championship and compete for a national title."
The Hogs led the SEC in total offense, ranked first in third-down conversions and quarterback Matt Jones ranked second among SEC quarterbacks in passing efficiency. Tailback Cedric Cobbs led the SEC in rushing.
"Certainly, you'd like to have a few games to play over and maybe try a few things differently in them if you could," Wittke said. "I'd like to think we could have done better on offense in a few of them. But, this has been a productive offense. The bottom line is victories. We want a bowl win to get victory number nine. That is a big goal. To get nine victories against the competition we've played this year would be big. The SEC is the toughest conference in America."
The Hogs worked for about 25 minutes on kicking game situations Monday morning as they wrapped up their campus bowl workouts. Houston Nutt then conducted a series of conditioning runs before sending his players home for Christmas. They'll meet Saturday in Shreveport, La., to begin on-site workouts for the Independence Bowl game with Missouri on Dec. 31.
"We got some work on special teams this morning and then we let them go," Nutt said. "We ran them pretty hard. We'll see them in Shreveport in five days. They are all looking forward to seeing their families and Santa Claus."
The Hogs had more contact than usual for their on-campus workouts for this bowl game. Nutt was asked if that points to a more serious attitude.
"Our focus is to win this game," Nutt said. "We've worked hard. Our players have concentrated. We've gone a little longer and a little harder in our workouts the past two weeks. You know there will be distractions when you get to the bowl and we tried to get everything done before going down there. Our players have had a great concentration throughout these practices. We'll give them a little time off and then try to do a little polish down in Shreveport."
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