Nutt Doesn't Regret Crucial Third-Down Call

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Houston Nutt stared down a difficult decision on the Razorbacks' second-to-last possession. The Hogs faced third-and-12 at their own 35 with two minutes, 31 seconds left, leading 38-34, and Alabama had just called its final timeout.

The dilemma: Pass for the first down or run to ensure time would run at least 30 seconds off the clock.

Nutt went for the first option. Dick rolled out right and threw incomplete for senior Robert Johnson.

"It was a couple of things," Nutt said. "They moved their defense into a Bear (covering the center and the two-guards). And we knew McFadden wasn't back there. And we knew they were going to be pinching.

"So we thought we could get (Dick) out (of the pocket) and get a one-on-one. If we get the first down, ya'll ain't asking that question. We also told (Dick) to run it if it there was any question. But he was just trying to make a play."

Also factoring into Nutt's decision was the performance of Arkansas' defense in the second half.

"I knew in my heart that they'd have a hard time going (73) yards," Nutt said.

Nutt said that as much as the Razorbacks missed Marcus Monk throughout Saturday's game, the senior wideout's absence was most glaring in that situation. Monk made a crucial third-down catch, in a similar situation, to clinch Arkansas' victory last season at South Carolina.

Nutt said it'd be tough for Monk to play Saturday against Kentucky because of his knee.

Secondary Changes

Alabama's John Parker Wilson burned the Razorback secondary for 327 passing yards and four touchdowns.

Sophomore cornerback Jerell Norton struggled the most. He was beaten deep twice by Alabama receiver DJ Hall in the first quarter. Nutt said that Norton was out of position at times as a result of his inexperience and that he was lined up incorrectly on a few occasions. On Alabama's final possession, Norton wasn't the only one who allowed receptions.

As a result, Nutt said changes in the secondary are likely. Nutt said senior safety Michael Grant could move back to cornerback, the position he played at Arkansas before this season. Junior college transfer Walner Leandre would likely slide into Grant's starting spot if a move was made.

"We're going to talk about that today," Nutt said. "Give us a day to think about that."

Upset With Mitchell

Nutt again voiced his displeasure with Arkansas defensive tackle Ernest Mitchell. The junior was ejected in the third quarter of Saturday's game after removing the helmet of Alabama lineman Justin Brill and striking him in the face with it.

The coaching staff will discuss possible penalties for Mitchell, who must miss at least the first half of Saturday's game because of his ejection, Nutt said.

"I don't know the (SEC) policy on that," Nutt said. "But we'll talk about it. That was so ridiculous. That was the most disappointing thing about the whole game. We don't teach that."

Nutt said Brill was also a guilty party in the incident. He said Brill repeatedly pushed Mitchell in the face mask before the Arkansas junior retaliated.

"We'll make right decision," Nutt said.

McFadden Update

Nutt said he expected running back Darren McFadden to be cleared for practice this week. He said McFadden would get an MRI scan before returning to practice. McFadden took a hard helmet-to-helmet hit in the fourth quarter, and Arkansas trainer Dean Weber saw the junior running back come off the field a little woozy.

Weber told Nutt that McFadden suffered a slight concussion and that he couldn't play the rest of the game.

Nutt sympathized with McFadden, who pleaded to go back in, but he didn't even consider it. Nutt said he had personal experience dealing with concussions, stemming from an injury to his daughter, Haven.

"He wanted to go back in," Nutt said. "He's a winner."

Extra Points

Nutt said he'd contact the SEC today about several matters pertaining to Saturday's game. He wasn't happy with the second pass interference call against Kevin Woods on Alabama's game-clinching drive. "You don't make that call," Nutt said. And Nutt wasn't pleased with the amount of time it took for officials to measure a potential Alabama first down with 21 seconds left. "I've never witnessed that before," Nutt said. ... Nutt said true freshman receiver Crosby Tuck, who caught a 40-yard touchdown pass, would see more playing time against Kentucky. ... Nutt also said sophomore tight end Ben Cleveland would try to practice this week.

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