Houston Nut had praise for both the offensive and defensive lines at his Sunday press conference. He also said that he wanted to get to halftime with an 18-point lead and that probably determined some of the calls in the last couple of minutes of the half when they started from their own goal line.
"This was probably the best game for our offensive and defensive lines," he said. "They both played extremely hard and gave great effort.
"The offensive line had a lot of knockdowns. Nate Garner had his best game. Mitch Petrus had his best game. Jose Valdez, Robert Felton and Jonathan Luigs -- except for the one bad snap for the safety -- had a great game, too.
"On the defensive line, Malcolm Sheppard, Marcus Harrison, Ernest Mitchell, Adrian Davis, Antwain Robinson, Chris Wade and everyone else who played in the line gave great effort and played at a high level.
"Casey Dick had his best game. He didn't throw a bunch, but he was very good in the ones he did throw. He did a great job in checking off. It reminded me of the game management (at QB) from the Auburn game last year. It was very good. Casey was checking out of bad plays. He checked out of some plays that were going to be negative yardage plays."
Nutt didn't have to be asked about the play calling just before halftime. He brought it up himself.
"David wanted to take a shot (with a pass) down the field, but when we saw them put three back on the goal line and we had an 18-point lead, I had thoughts of the Kentucky game and with Monk not feeling well, and the way we were blocking, I thought our best chance was to try to pop a run with Darren or Felix."
In regard to Monk, the senior wideout did not play after sustained a hit, perhaps by a helmet, to the calf. Nutt said, "He told me it wasn't his knee, that his knee was fine." Monk should be able to play this week against Tennessee.
Asked about McFadden's 321 rushing yards, Nutt was reminded of a couple of 300-yard games by Barry Sanders at Oklahoma State.
"To do that (get to 321) on that many carries (34) takes a special athlete," Nutt said. "To take that pounding and keep performing ... "
However, Nutt doesn't want his big tailback to take so many hits. He said he told him that after McFadden fumbled after tying to pound a defender in the second quarter.
"Tim (Horton, running backs coach) had already talked to him about protecting the ball, but I talked to him, too," Nutt said. "I told him to quit trying to pound people.
"I told him, 'Let's get back to being a race horse. Don't try to look someone up.' It was a head's up play by Peyton Hillis to get the ball.
"I told him don't try to look someone up. Let Hillis do that. Let Peyton be the bully on the field."
Back to the checks by the quarterback, Nutt said he was very pleased with Dick.
"I think there were probably five or six times, maybe more ... you'll have to check with David Lee ... that he got us out of bad plays. Those were critical plays. Once, we had a pass called, we were in an unbalanced formation and they were bringing two on the edge. I heard David on the head sets say, 'Bad play, bad play.' I told him, 'He's covering you. He's got you. He's taking care of you tonight."
Nutt said the Hogs had planned to call more than just 11 pass plays and that Lee wanted to call more pass plays during the game.
"He wanted to throw it and I told him, 'Keep dialing up those runs,'" Nutt said. "We were blocking so well."
Plus, Nutt said it's obvious that McFadden, now very close to 100 percent, and Jones were in top form.
"I don't think I've ever seen Felix run any better," he said. "He made some great runs, some great cuts. He was hitting the power and the sweep. He was great. And, Darren, you can see he is getting better and better. He's back to feeling healthy."
Nutt said strength and conditioning coach Don Decker handles McFadden's pre-game stretch and told the staff that the tailback was in great form for the game.
"We knew it in the stretch (that he was ready)," Nutt said. "Don Decker told us. He's ready, he said. He's stretching like a race horse. He's nimble. He's ready."
Lines played best game
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