Coach Nutt Press Conference

"It was a good win yesterday. I'm very proud of our team. We feared all week that it would be a tough game because of how much emotion was spent against Ole Miss the week before. On the bus ride over to the hotel on Friday there is usually a lot of conversation going on, but it was very quite with people sleeping. It was a tiresome week.

"It was good to get back and play a quality team. They have a lot of talent at the skill positions. We recruited a lot of those players. They believed they were going to beat us up until the end. But, we made the plays when we needed to and that is what this team has been doing the last few weeks.

"Ken Hamlin and Carlos Hall played well. Their quarterback got hit 15 times, not sacked, but hit and knocked down 15 times. Carlos Hall was responsible for a lot of that. I hate to think where we would be without our cornerbacks.

"Offensively, I am very proud of Zak Clark. He was very accurate and did a great job of controlling the game. Shawn Andrews played well. Ever since we put him in the lineup good things have happened for us. Scott Davenport got his first start and did some good things. Brennan hit some big field goals for us down the stretch. Our special teams did a good job of protecting on punts. They had some NFL-type rushes."

Talk about the job the second team players did vs. UCF: "Jeb Huckeba played more than we counted on. He got blocked a few times, but he did some good things. He is learning. Gavin Walls did a great job on special teams all year and we are using him more at linebacker. Jimmy Beasley had to come in a few times for Tony Bua and did well."

How tough was it getting ready for UCF? "It's hard to tell an 18-year-old that the University of Central Florida is good unless you are from Florida. Steven Harris was the only one who really understood it. You watch them on film and think because they are not as big as you that they won't compete. But you look at the scores of their games against Clemson, Virginia Tech and Syracuse and they are for real. They beat Alabama last year. It was a concern for the coaches this week."

Is it the best the team has played in third quarter this year? "Probably so. We scored 14 points and kept them from scoring. We were able to put some distance between us and them."

What were the adjustments at halftime? "We didn't make that many adjustments. We talked about not letting the screens get us. We didn't add anything. We just talked about playing smart and not give up the big play. Offensively, we wanted to establish that it was our game on the first drive of the second half. We were getting eight, nine yards then we fumbled. The defense did a good job of stepping up and not letting them score."

Talk about the success against non-conference teams: "I wish we could play all three of them at the first of the season. We can't do that the way the schedule is. The league is so tough you have to win those three games. Scheduling is difficult. The key to any season is to win the games you are supposed to win."

Talk about the momentum the team has: "It goes back to Weber State. We got some young players in like Matt Jones and Decori Birmingham. The guys came together and started to believe in themselves. Then we got a big win against South Carolina and we have just continued to work hard and try to get better each week."

Talk about Mississippi State: "The one thing our seniors said is that it will be a dog fight. It always goes down to the wire, that's the history of this series. Even though they are 2-6, they had a chance to beat Alabama so you can throw their record out the window. They will play as hard as they can against us, especially after the game last year. We kind of spoiled their season last year so they will be fired up to try to spoil ours.

"It seems like quarterback Wayne Madkin has been there 10 years. They have the biggest defensive line in the conference. Their cornerbacks are good. They are simple on offense and try to run at you. And everybody knows about Joe Lee Dunn."

You went back to Fred Talley after he fumbled, talk about that: "Fred came back to me after that and said we could trust him with the ball. I believed him. He knows how I feel about fumbles. You just have a feeling that he will do what he says. Fred has to learn to hold on to the ball when he is twisting and turning."

What will Brandon Holmes' role be? "We would have never considered putting Brandon in the game if he had not done everything we set out for him to do. He has done an excellent job and has really earned the respect from the players and coaches. He is willing to do whatever it takes and has done whatever we asked. His school work has been good and he has shown a change in his life."

What is Mark Pierce's status? "Just have to wait and see. We don't think his shoulder is separated. Hopefully it will get well and we will need him on Saturday."

What is the injury situation? "Caleb Miller has a hernia-type injury. Tony Bua is sore after getting hit below the waist. Pierce and Talley have shoulders banged up. Sacha Lancaster has a lower back strain. We have been fortunate this year, but we are down to the last couple of weeks and we need to be careful. The key is for us to be fresh."


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