State of the Hogs: Plenty of Fight Left

Arkansas may have lost to LSU, but the Hogs and their coaches were ready to turn their attention to Atlanta.

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The Arkansas coaches were preaching it to anyone who would listen Friday night in the Arkansas locker room.

Perspective, perspective, perspective.

Arkansas' defensive coordinator should not have worried so much. His players had shifted gears.

They were ready to think about Florida. Losing 31-26 to LSU didn't take away the Hogs' manhood. It didn't ruin their season. They know the target.

"We know the goal is to beat Florida and go to the Sugar Bowl," senior captain Keith Jackson said. "You don't have to worry about this team losing perspective. You don't have to worry about the heart of this team. We've got too much heart, too much talent."

Herring kept talking about perspective and what the Hogs had already accomplished. He said the same thing as Jackson, too, just with different words. He replaced heart with "guts and character." He said he was disappointed the Hogs gave up two "cheap touchdowns, something we normally don't do and something that should have never happened." He thinks the team will be just fine against Florida in the title game in Atlanta next weekend.

"I just loved the way we fought today," Herring said. "Things looked bad at times. They were pounding on us and turned it into a middle drill just for men. LSU, this was no midget team. And, we took the ball away from them twice. That showed our character right there. No, we gave them easy stuff, too, but we didn't quit."

Ditto from Danny Nutt, the UA offensive backfield assistant who had two backs do what no one else had done on the year. Felix Jones, who had 137 yards on 16 rushes, became the first back to go over the 100-yard mark on the Tigers. Darren McFadden would later join him on a 80-yard TD dash that would help him to 182 on 21 carries.

"That's an NFL front LSU had out there so we went wide," Danny Nutt said. "That's what I was asking for, plays outside. Then Darren got them right up the gut. I'm so lucky to get to coach a couple of backs like that, with such great ability and such great heart.

"That's why I don't worry about this coming week. We are so fired up right now to get back on the practice field. That's why I'm not worried about this team. They bring it in practice and they bring it in games. You saw them. You saw their heart. We've been here awhile and this is our best group. It's a very good group and we are proud of them."

Houston Nutt, the UA head coach, didn't wonder if the Hogs would fight back in the title game.

"Not with this group," Nutt said. "They can't believe they didn't win today. That's how they are. Sam Olajubutu, after Darren's long run cut it to one score, didn't have any doubt that we were going to get the ball back with plenty of time left to win it. He came to me and said, ‘Coach, get your offense ready because we are fixing to get you the ball back right here.' Then we give up the kickoff return. That made it too tough."

Danny Nutt liked the way his older brother spoke to the squad in the minutes just after the game. "I agree with what he told them -- they are easy to coach," Danny Nutt said. "Houston told them, we just get out of their way and let them play. The players call it ‘balling.' That's what they are, a bunch of ballers. They will bring it next week. There is no doubt in my mind."

They may have one more star to ball, too. Fullback Peyton Hillis couldn't work a "knot" out of his thigh and did not dress out for the LSU game, missing his second straight week with a thigh bruise.

"He should be back," trainer Dean Weber said. "It's a three-week injury. A couple more days and he should be alright."

McFadden will welcome him back to the fight.

"That's what this team does, fight on every single play," said McFadden, who singled out the blocking of wideout Marcus Monk. "These guys were all fighting today. Our offensive line gave me the hole on the long run. And, did you see No. 85 blocking, just fighting on every play. That's the way it's been all year. Monk tells me in the huddle, come to my side. My man won't tackle you. Monk is like another offensive linemen out there, a fighter."

Perspective, perspective, perspective. The Hogs haven't lost it just yet.

"Two more games," Jackson said. "Two more games. We got plenty in the tank still. This team will fight in Atlanta. Count on it."


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