Arkansas Tailback Puts A Lot Of Preassure On

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas running back Darren McFadden wanted to break the school's rushing record in his hometown of Little Rock on Saturday, but coach Houston Nutt said the Heisman Trophy candidate may have put too much pressure on himself during the 34-15 win against Tennessee-Chattanooga.

McFadden, who needed 154 yards to break Ben Cowins' school mark, finished with a season-low, 122 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. He also fumbled twice and left the game with bruised ribs.

"He was very frustrated," Nutt said Sunday. "He's trying so hard and he didn't have a good night. Bottom line. He did not have a good night. I know that hurts him."

Nutt said McFadden has been dealing with sore ribs for a couple of weeks, but the injury sidelined him for good against the Mocs after a nine-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter. He went to the locker room for treatment midway through the quarter and did not return to the Arkansas sideline.

On Sunday, trainer Dean Weber said McFadden is bruised, but there are no cracked or fractured ribs. Nutt said he wasn't concerned about the injury and expects to have McFadden on the practice field this week.

Nutt is also confident McFadden — who still leads the Southeastern Conference in rushing yards a game (155.8) — will shake off the disappointing performance in time for Saturday's game against Auburn.

"He wanted to really excel, especially right there in Little Rock," Nutt said. "He had every intention. He wanted to get that record. I think that's been on him. That's a little extra pressure he puts on himself. You've just got to go back and say, ‘Listen, the reason you got to this point is because you play within yourself.'"


Arkansas made a change on the offensive line against the Mocs, starting freshman Wade Grayson in place of Mitch Petrus at left guard. It was Grayson's first start.

"(Offensive line coach) Mike (Markuson) came to me Thursday and thought he had the better week," Nutt said. "Boy, he's just a guy that really hustles around fundamentally. He's good."

Petrus did play in a backup role and got approximately 28 to 30 snaps in the game. Nutt said Petrus turned in one of his better performances and described him as a "ball of fire" in his time.

"It was good," Nutt said. "I think it's good for both of them. We'll see how this week goes."


Jerell Norton's 45-yard punt return in the first quarter was Arkansas' longest in nearly four years. The last time the Razorbacks had a longer return was on Nov. 15, 2003, when former Hog Marvin Jackson returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown in a 48-20 win against New Mexico State.

Nutt said Norton's performance — he averaged 12.4 yards on five returns — will help him keep the job. But he also scolded the cornerback for a second-half return when Norton dove to field a short punt and nearly lost the ball.

"He did do some very good things," Nutt said. "He caught the ball well. He made our longest run of the year, gives us a little hope back there. But there's no way he can make that kind of decision. He can't just be crazy and free lancer back there. You've got to be smart.

"Hopefully this week he'll understand he can't ever gamble with the ball like that."


Nutt was asked if he saw the airplane with the banner reading, "Nuttin' Like Being 0-2 in the SEC," that circled War Memorial Stadium before Saturday's game. His response: "That's interesting.

"It's funny, they didn't have it when we were 7-0 (in the SEC) last year," Nutt said. "They couldn't find that plane. We needed that banner when we were 7-0 in the conference. Just as many wins as Florida. They couldn't find that plane. I don't know. That's interesting."


Nutt is hoping to have receiver Robert Johnson back in time for Saturday's game against Auburn. The senior, who has been starting in place of injured senior Marcus Monk, sat out the Tennessee-Chattanooga game because of an ankle injury. Reggie Fish filled in and caught three passes for 20 yards.

"We missed him," Nutt said. "That receiver position has really taken a hit this year from Monk on."

Nutt also said there's nothing new on Monk's status. The senior has been sidelined with a knee injury.

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