Nutt, Broyles Convince Capital One Bowl

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Houston Nutt had to do some damage control with the Capital One Bowl folks after Saturday's Southeastern Conference Championship Game.

Nutt didn't know for sure until about 3:30 p.m. Sunday that Arkansas would play in the Capital One Bowl against Wisconsin. An erroneous report in an Atlanta newspaper early last week had indicated that Arkansas would prefer the Cotton Bowl over the Capital One if those became the two options. As a result, Capital One representatives attended the SEC title game in Atlanta but were not in the press box. Once Florida had defeated Arkansas 38-28 to remove the Hogs from Sugar Bowl availability, Nutt spoke with SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. "I wanted to make it clear we were not turning down bowls, especially the Capital One," Nutt said Sunday. "One of the big topics in our last (SEC) meeting at Destin, Fla., was to protect the two teams in the SEC Championship Game with the bowls. All the coaches agreed on that." So while Nutt noted Sunday that Arkansas "loves the Cotton Bowl and all the bowls," he acknowledged that an invitation from the Capital One Bowl, which gets the first pick after the BCS bowls, "helps with prestige and recruiting." Nutt thanked Capital Bowl One reps Steve Hogan and Carol Monroe for their relationship with the Razorbacks all season. Nutt said UA athletic director Frank Broyles also had a role in the bowl discussions. "He was on the phone the last couple of days," Nutt said. "Everyone knows he's the master ambassador that can sell the Arkansas fans and team. He's the best at that." Nutt said he knew little about 11-1 Wisconsin and was "anxious to start watching" tape of the Badgers. The two schools' only meeting came in 1912, when Arkansas lost 64-7 at Wisconsin. "We know they're very good, with an excellent running back (P.J. Hill) and they beat a physical Auburn team last year. So, when we saw that score we knew they had to be very physical," Nutt said. Hill has gained 1,533 yards on 292 carries for a 5.2 average this season, while Arkansas' Darren McFadden has gained 1,558 yards on 265 carries for a 5.9 average. BUMPS, BRUISES Nutt said he hopes to have Hogs fullback Peyton Hillis (bruised thigh) back for the bowl game. "He's been so frustrated and wants to play so bad," Nutt said. Hillis has not traveled with the Hogs to their last three games. "His attitude was really good right before we left for the (SEC title) game," Nutt said. "We had a good visit before we left. He'll be all right." Nutt said defensive end Antwain Robinson had a swollen knee after the Hogs' 38-28 loss to Florida. "I hope it's not a cartilage," Nutt said. Tailback Felix Jones was limping with an ankle injury after the game, Nutt said, and McFadden was nursing a strained Achilles tendon. Offensive guard Stephen Parker continues to be bothered by a strained knee. "Florida had a bunch of injuries, too," Nutt said. HAPPY FOR GATORS Nutt said he was "glad for Florida" getting into the BCS title game, but he joked, "I would much rather Arkansas be there." Nutt will meet with the Hogs at 3 p.m. today and oversee a Saturday practice which will center on redshirt freshmen and other young players (unless Nutt accompanies McFadden to the Heisman ceremonies in New York that day). DICK STILL NO. 1 Nutt said both Casey Dick and Mitch Mustain will get a lot of reps at quarterback during the bowl-preparation period. "This is a time that you can really get a lot better," Nutt said. "We missed (bowl preparation) the last two years. Mitch and Casey will both get a lot of great work. Right now Casey will start. He'll be our starter. I've been proud of him. There are things he's got to get better at, but he's made some good throws." NOT SO SPECIAL Nutt said that punter Jacob Skinner had an off night Saturday, as did Arkansas' special teams generally. "We've got to reevaluate everything on special teams now," Nutt said. "We spend a lot of time on them. We'll reevaluate personnel." Nutt added, however, "Reggie (Fish) is our guy (at punt returner). He's worked the hardest. We probably didn't spend enough time on putting him at the 10-yard line and catching punts there. We talked about it, but we'll do more of it."

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