Had the Razorbacks gained another first down or had better pass coverage in the final minute, things would have turned out much differently. The mood around their locker room would also be more positive.
But instead of celebrating an emotional comeback win over Alabama, Arkansas' players must deal with the fallout from Saturday night's 41-38 loss in the final seconds.
"I know they're down, and I want them to be down. They should hurt," Nutt said Sunday afternoon, around 17 hours after the heartbreaker in Tuscaloosa.
"It was pretty quiet on the way home, very quiet in fact. But that's the way it should be. But they'll be OK."
Of course, it could take a few days — and maybe even a few games — for the Razorbacks to fully get over the loss.
Arkansas' locker room was unusually quiet late Saturday night. Players tried coming to terms with losing to Alabama on a 4-yard touchdown catch by Matt Caddell with eight seconds left.
The Razorbacks (1-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) erased a 21-point deficit and took a late 38-31 lead, only to come up short on the final drive.
"There is so many different things you can look at, so many different scenarios that would make the score different," Nutt said. "But the bottom line is we've got to get better."
Nutt opened his Sunday media gathering by referring to the defeat as "a tough, tough pill to swallow." But he said he'd stress the positives when he met with the team later in the day.
The loss, however, dropped Arkansas out of both major college football polls. It also put the Razorbacks in an 0-1 hole in the SEC, with No. 21 Kentucky (3-0, 0-0) heading into Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday night.
Kickoff is scheduled for a 5 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2.
"You can't just wallow around in (the loss). We've got to get going," Nutt said. "We've got a very tough game this week."
Making matters worse is the fact that star running back Darren McFadden suffered a slight concussion Saturday that could limit the amount of work he gets in practice. Nutt said the Heisman Trophy front-runner should be cleared to play against Kentucky.
In addition, starting defensive tackle Ernest Mitchell could possibly be suspended for at least one game after getting ejected for hitting Alabama offensive guard Justin Britt in the face with his own helmet.
The Razorbacks returned to practice Sunday afternoon, and Nutt said he wanted to spend the time focusing on correcting the mistakes and harping on the positives.
"Our guys will really benefit from this thing because we know that there is a lot of good things that we did. We've got to make plays when it counts," Nutt said. "There at the end especially we've got to execute, whether it be make a first down or knocking the ball down."
Nutt said he was pleased with quarterback Casey Dick, who had one of his better performances as a starter. He completed 11 of 23 passes for 145 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
And though hard to accept, Nutt said he was impressed with what he saw from his players in Saturday's near-miss at Alabama.
"After watching the film, I'm really proud of them. I'm really proud of how they fought," Nutt said. "There have been a lot of teams right there that would have looked up at the score and said, ‘I give. I stop.'"
Alex Abrams' AP Top 25 Ballot
1. Southern Cal
5. West Virginia
6. Ohio State
10. Penn State
12. Boston College
14. South Carolina
19. Virginia Tech
22. Georgia Tech
23. Texas A&M
ALEX ABRAMS IS THE BEAT REPORTER FOR THE ARKANSAS FOOTBALL TEAM AND A VOTING MEMBER OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS COLLEGE FOOTBALL POLL. HIS BALLOT APPEARS EACH MONDAY.
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