Disappointed Hogs Look For Immediate Rebound

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas coach Houston Nutt tried his best to boost his players' spirits in the locker room following Friday's 31-26 loss to No. 9 LSU.

He told them that he loved them. He spoke of their courage and heart. And he insisted that they hold their heads up because they're still the Southeastern Conference's western division champions.

But who knows if the postgame speech worked?

It could take a few days before anyone knows if the No. 5 Razorbacks (10-2, 7-1 SEC) can forget about their first loss in nearly three months and rebound in time to face No. 4 Florida in Saturday's SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.

"You're going to have to have a real short memory and just know that our season is not over with," Arkansas defensive end Jamaal Anderson said following the game. "We haven't been in this situation before to still have a game next week."

Though Nutt acknowledged that his players were clearly disappointed following the loss, he insisted that they'd fine.

"Just give us a couple of days," Nutt said.

Friday's loss was a particularly tough one for Arkansas' players to deal with, and for more reasons than just because it came in front of a home crowd inside War Memorial Stadium.

Heading into Friday, the Razorbacks were among a handful of one-loss teams hoping to get the chance to play in the Bowl Championship Series title game on Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz.

But those aspirations came to an end when quarterback Casey Dick's deep pass to London Crawford on fourth-and-10 with 1:31 remaining fell short, allowing LSU to hold on for the win.

"One game doesn't define us," Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring said, adding that this is still the same team that had won 10 straight games before Friday.

Arkansas, which was ranked No. 5 in both the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls, will likely fall several spots when the rankings are released today. The Razorbacks will drop from their No. 6 spot in the BCS standings, as well.

But following the game, players insisted that they'd already shifted their goals. It's no longer about playing for a national championship but rather winning the SEC championship and earning an invite to the Jan. 3 Sugar Bowl.

"We've got a lot of seniors on the team that are going to keep everybody's head up and keep the young guys in line and let them know that we've still got a lot to play for," strong safety Randy Kelly said. "We've still got two more games left."

After suffering an embarrassing 50-14 loss to No. 3 Southern California in the Sept. 2 season opener, Nutt told his players that they needed to move on and simply take one game at a time.

Even during Arkansas' 10-game winning streak, Nutt repeated the message on a weekly basis. In fact, he said it so often that he started referring to it as the "theme song" to the season.

Apparently, the players have carried on the message. Several of them spoke immediately following Friday's loss to LSU about the need for them to put the game behind them and focus just on Florida (11-1, 7-1 SEC).

The Razorbacks want to avoid going into January with its first two-game losing streak of the season. Putting an end to the Gators' national championship hopes wouldn't hurt, either.

"When we go back to practice, we're just going to keep doing like we've been doing, preparing like we've been preparing and just going out there with a positive attitude," running back Darren McFadden said.

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