Nutt Admits Saturday Was Simply ‘A Bad Night'

FAYETTEVILLE — After reviewing footage of Saturday's sloppy win over Tennessee-Chattanooga, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt had a simple explanation for what had happened.

"It's just a bad night, let's just face it," Nutt said Sunday. "(It was a) bad, bad night and we're going to get it better."

Perhaps there is no other way to explain it.

The Razorbacks gave up a safety on their first play from scrimmage, repeatedly stopped themselves offensively and needed a fourth-quarter rally to hold on for a 34-15 win in War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

It was an uninspiring performance against the undersized Mocs, a Football Championship Subdivision program.

"The one thing that stood out is, boy, just the lack of execution," Nutt said. "Boy, that first few minutes was just horrible and (we) got off on the wrong foot."

Nutt said he had an idea that Saturday might not go so smoothly after watching his players stumble through a practice earlier in the week. That lack of concentration followed the Razorbacks (3-2, 0-2 Southeastern Conference) to Little Rock.

On Arkansas' first play from scrimmage, center Jonathan Luigs surprised Casey Dick by snapping the football before the quarterback was ready. The ball bounced into the end zone, resulting in a safety and a 2-0 lead for UTC.

The Razorbacks did only slightly better on their second offensive series. They gained three yards on three players and were forced to punt.

"(The players) thought they could just roll that Razorback helmet out there in front of a great crowd and do exactly what they did against North Texas," Nutt said. "It just doesn't work that way."

Especially against a tough SEC team like No. 22 Auburn.

After back-to-back wins over North Texas and UTC, the Razorbacks will get back to playing tougher opponents who will take advantage of careless mistakes like a fumbled snap.

The Tigers (4-2, 2-1 SEC) have rebounded from a two-game losing streak in mid-September to knock off No. 13 Florida and then convincingly beat Vanderbilt on Saturday.

It could spell trouble if Arkansas isn't ready.

"We've just got to prepare hard (for Auburn), go out to practice, execute well and not have a bad day of practice," Dick said. "Not waste anything."

There seems to be a sense of urgency surrounding this week's national televised game against Auburn in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Arkansas already is staring at an 0-2 hole in the SEC, and a third consecutive conference loss would be a severe blow to the Hogs' chances of playing in a top bowl game.

A win over the Tigers, however, could change everything.

"Anytime you play an SEC team, anytime you're right back in the SEC conference, it means so much," Nutt said. "It means so much, and this is a big game."

Nutt said the focus over the next few days will be for his players to correct the mistakes that were so noticeable Saturday night against UTC.

Running back Darren McFadden will work with Luigs on getting the quarterback-center exchange during the WildHog formation down.

One of McFadden's two fumbles against the Mocs occurred when he couldn't handle a snap while lining up at quarterback.

"I feel like I wasn't taking care of the ball," said McFadden, who rushed for a season-low 122 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries. "I wasn't protecting it like I was supposed to."

McFadden was expected to practice Sunday despite having bruised ribs that forced him to go to the locker room toward the end of Saturday's win.

The Razorbacks will also try to get focused and avoid committing the type of mental mistakes that could prove costly against a team like Auburn.

"I think quarterbacks, receivers, everybody can do much better," Nutt said.

Alex Abrams' AP Ballot

1. LSU

2. California

3. Ohio State

4. South Florida

5. Boston College

6. Missouri

7. South Carolina

8. Cincinnati

9. West Virginia

10. Oklahoma

11. Arizona State

12. Oregon

13. Hawaii

14. Southern Cal

15. Kentucky

16. Illinois

17. Wisconsin

18. Virginia Tech

19. Florida

20. Kansas

21. Florida State

22. Georgia

23. Colorado

24. Texas

25. Purdue

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