Nutt's Vandy Review

Houston Nutt said he awoke this morning and the score had changed. TheArkansas coach said, "It's a sick feeling -- we had so many opportunities and chances to put the game away. We helped Vandy get a win and it's important to correct our mistakes.

Nutt took all questions and answered them in a straight forward way on Sunday after reviewing film of a 28-24 loss to Vanderbilt, including why they didn't try field goals on fourth down and what limited Felix Jones to one carry.

"I'd do it the same again on the fourth downs," Nutt said. "I'd do them all the same. Now, we might run it outside on the goal line with Robert Johnson. In hindsight, you might do that.

"Our thoughts are that if you give it to Peyton (Hillis) with a running start, he's going to get one yard. I'd done over again 10 times."

The latter came after he was asked if he'd kick a field goal if he had it to over again when the Hogs were stopped at the 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal after three earlier plunges from inside the 3-yard line.

On Jones carrying just one time after turning in big runs in the season opener to earn SEC freshman of the week honors, Nutt said that in his one carry, the ball was stripped out although he was ruled down before the fumble. Darren McFadden got only one carry, too, converting a first down on an option pitch.

"I saw it real good and the ball just came out so easily," Nutt said. "It was a strip. I didn't like that it came out that easy and I had a good look at it. It made me nervous in a game like that. De'Arrius and Peyton were doing fine.

"We had Felix in and the ball came out. It was the first conference game and was going nip and tuck. We needed as many veterans as we had.

"We are going to keep working both Felix and Jones. There is a role for them."

Nutt said another factor in his decision to keep his two freshmen tailbacks on the bench was the way both De'Arrius Howard and Peyton Hillis were working.

"With the score (tight) like it was, we needed experience out there and De'Arrius had the ball locked in," Nutt said. "He was running good and so was Peyton."

Offensively, Nutt said the Hogs moved the ball, but were inconsistent. He said mistakes that are mainly correctable stopped drives.

"There was the illegal formation penalty, a dropped pass, a dropped center snap, Robert (Johnson) missing our backs when they were open ... those are clearly correctable," Nutt said. "What you see is that we are inconsistent. We had some passes batted down at the line. (Our line) has to get those hands down and create throwing lanes. We've got to take their legs out so their hands are down and there are throwing lanes."

Defensively, Nutt said the tackling continues to improve, but there were clearly missed tackles on the one long run, for the second straight week.

"We have to eliminate the big run," Nutt said. "But I know we are tackling better. The thing that hurts is that we were in position to knock down some passes.

"We were really close in a lot of areas, some things that if we'd done maybe one of them right, we win the game. We had three block in the back penalties that you just can't have."

Nutt seemed miffed at some of the calls (or non calls) by the SEC crew of officials. He said an illegal formation penalty for only six men on the line was a mistake. That play wiped out a second-down completion to Cedric Washington and the Hogs could not convert after the penalty.

The Hogs were in an unbalanced formation with no tight end or wideout to the side of the field where the call was made. But they had two ends and a flanker on the other side, meaning the play was legal.

"We had seven there and it wasn't close," Nutt said. "They are supposed to call across to the other side to see who is over there. We'd run that formation before, but they didn't catch it this time and they flagged us and said we only had six on the line.

"A bell goes off in their head when they see only a guard and a tackle on one side, but they didn't see that we had the tight end and the end on the other side."

Also, Nutt indicated that the Vandy pass ruled complete late in the game that was reviewed by the replay official was a "skip" and should not have counted.

Other questionable calls mentioned by Nutt included a holding penalty against Darius Vinnett and a pass inteference call against Randy Kelly. Nutt seemed miffed by both of those after viewing the film.

With Southern Cal waiting this week, Nutt said the most important thing for the Hogs is to "stay tuned in" on what needs to be corrected than to worry about the matchup against one of the nation's elite teams.

"We have to stay tuned in on us and don't listen or read the stuff that is going on, don't read stuff and listen to the stuff being said," Nutt said. "A lot of people will be jumping off the wagon. That's the type world we live in now. It's easy to do that.

"I know we could easily be very happy today and we have the whole season left.

"I think people will find out and see the difference (in Vandy) this year in part because of Jay Cutler, if Jay stays healthy."

Nutt said the Hogs brought a heavy diet of blitzes against Cutler throughout the game, trying to disrupt his rhythm and timing. They knew Cutler could hit some plays against blitzes, but still thought that was better than let him have more time.

"You pick your poison against Cutler," Nutt said. "You can blitz, or you can let him set and throw. We had him on the run, but he hit some plays. We have to make some of those plays. He threw it up some."

Asked if that is the standard way the Hogs will play defense, Nutt seemed to say it wasn't. He answered in the affirmative when asked if that scheme was a special package designed just for Cutler.

Robert Johnson improved at quarterback, but made two major miscues that kept the Hogs from locking up a victory, according to the head coach. He went out of bounds when the Hogs were trying to run out the clock with a 3-point lead and he tried to make a big play by bouncing outside on a scramble when a dart inside would have gotten the first down.

"I think Robert was trying to stay inside and it was close, one leg in and one out," Nutt said. "But you can't make it even close. He made a lot of good decisions and a lot of good plays, but there were two decisions that were bad to me. The other was on the scramble on third-and-2. He could have cut it inside and moved the chains and he tried to make a big play by bouncing it outside and lost yardage. You've got to move the chains. The clock we would have run there on those two might have made the difference and we might have scored on one of them if we'd kept the ball.

"We have to get off the field on defense. On offense we have to run clock on that last drive. What bothered me at the end is that I thought we could run block and get the first down."

Defensively, Nutt thought linemen Marcus Harison and Keith Jackson had solid effort nights. He also praised linebackers Sam Olabutu and Pierre Brown. He added that ends Desmond Sims and Anthony Brown gave effort and pressured Cutler from the outside.

"Our front showed up," Nutt said. "Harrison had eight or nine tackles. Keith Jackson played very hard. Except for one run where we missed some tackles, our front showed up."


Nutt does not expect either Zac Tubbs or Jared Hicks to return against Southern Cal. Tubbs, an offensive guard, and Hicks, a tight end, have missed the first two games after sustaining high ankle sprains in preseason workouts. There was still no word on results of the MRI taken Friday on Chris Baker's sore knee.

There were no serious injuries against Vandy. Kyle Roper has a bruised back. Pierre Brown sustained a knee strain.

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