Arkansas held an emotional team meeting Tuesday night at the team hotel, the last such meeting with the current senior class. Some players spoke, but others declined saying they didn't want to leave their teammates in tears.
"I'm usually one who speaks a lot, but I declined last night," said George Wilson, one of the Hogs' most vocal captains ever. "I knew I'd have everyone torn up if I spoke, so I didn't. I regretted it later. I regret it now. I wish I had spoken. I just didn't want to dampen the mood."
Wilson said Houston Nutt gave each senior an opportunity to speak. Some did. Some did not. Caleb Miller also declined to speak, but that was pretty much the norm.
"I don't ever speak, but George is usually one who speaks a lot, so that was unusual," Miller said. "It was emotional. But I understand why George didn't speak. It has been a good week and we've had a lot of fun with each other in practice with the way we've worked and gotten after it. George didn't want to make it something that would be a tear jerker."
Wilson and Miller were the two players Houston Nutt brought to the day before press conference at Fair Grounds Pavillion. Nutt said the meeting Tuesday night was designed to be like the normal Thursday night team meeting during game week.
"We always have that Thursday meeting where some guys talked, but this one was different," Nutt said. "These seniors came in our first full class. It seems like just yesterday when we were in their homes begging them to come to Arkansas. This was a different meeting because it is the last time this group will be together in that kind of a meeting. It was very different than our usual Thursday night meetings."
Wilson said the Hogs have prepared well for this bowl game and that means both on and off the field.
"We begged coach to let us have the first night here and everyone handled themselves well that night, and then from that point, we've locked it down at night, curfew and everything," Wilson said. "There has been a security guard on the door to keep people off our floor and to keep our team in at night. It's been good. We've gone about this in the right way."
Miller said it is important to get a victory Wednesday night against Missouri.
"This group of seniors has been here and has not gotten a victory in a bowl," Miller said. "A few played that first year against Texas in the Cotton Bowl. So they did win a bowl. But most of us were redshirts that first year and we didn't play in the Cotton Bowl against Texas. For us, we've never won a bowl game. We want to break that tradition. I know you remember the last game you play the most and we want to make this one to remember.
"We've tried to enjoy this experience and make it fun by the way we've worked before we got here and after we got here. I told George the other night that I doubt there is another team anywhere in America that enjoys being around each other as much as this team. We like each other and like playing with each other. That's what this game is going to be about, going out and playing together."
Nutt said Ryan Sorahan will start at quarterback, but he does not know how long he will play.
"It may be for one series, maybe two or maybe even three," Nutt said. "The flow of the game will dictate that. But he will start.
"We have a unique situation. I've never been around a team where a quarterback can only throw two times a week. It's been where Ryan has taken most of the snaps in practice. I've always believed that a guy who practices as much as Ryan that he deserves to start.'
Nutt said he expects fill-in starters Zac Tubbs (at tackle for Shawn Andrews) and Brandon Kennedy (at fullback for Mark Pierce) will be "more than adequate." He said both should play well.
"They've practiced very well," Nutt said. "We've lost players before to injuries and guys had to step up. That's what these two are doing. They are ready to play and will be more than adequate."
Nutt said Marvin Jackson would be the starting punt returner against Missouri, but he did not preclude using Matt Jones at that spot if Jackson's sore knee proves a hindrance.
"We might use Matt in special teams," Nutt said. "But Marvin will be the starter there. Matt is ready to go, too, if we need him."
The Hogs held a walk-through practice Tuesday morning at Indpendence Stadium. Game time Wedensday is at 6:30 p.m.
Arkansas bowl update, 12/30
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