Jones to Skip Hoops

Houston Nutt covered a multitude of topics in a press conference Tuesday morning. Much of the discussion centered around Matt Jones.

Houston Nutt went through a lot of issues during a 40-minute session with reporters that varied from talk of an offensive coordinator to Matt Jones' decision to skip basketball this season to recover from injuries suffered this past football season.

Nutt advised Jones to quit basketball after he and the quarterback and his parents met with UA trainer Dean Weber and Dr. John Parks, the team orthopedic specialist.

Jones has a "loose" shoulder and a chronic sprain to some ligaments that connect to the "head of the fibia." Neither problem will require surgery.

"They are managable," Nutt said. "But, he needs time off and rehab. He needs to not play basketball and that's what I advised him after hearing what Dean and Dr. Parks had to say."

Weber said Jones' shoulder is a "thrower's" shoulder, and is typical of what some baseball pitcher's and quarterbacks face. He said it is a congenital problem and exists in both shoulders.

"If he was a defensive player and needed to tackle, then it might dislocate or separate," Weber said. "He might need shoulder then, but not the way it is now. It's not uncommon and it is something with proper rehab will get better."

Weber said Jones would continue to throw this winter during rehab.

"Not throwing is something that hindered him last spring," Weber said. "You need to keep throwing at least two days a week this winter. That's what he'll do."

The leg injury was sustained in the South Florida game on a late-hit out of bounds.

"It's not his knee," Nutt said, "But, it is close to the knee. He had pain and soreness and he lost some quickness and speed this year. He wasn't the same as last year. We didn't tell everyone, but everyone could see he wasn't as quick and wasn't the threat he was last year because of the loss in speed. There was a big, big difference."

Nutt said that they gave Tarvaris Jackson extra time in the offense trying to bring him along to fill the role held by Zak Clark last year, but it just didn't work.

"We wanted Tarvaris to help and you worried about losing Matt, but it just didn't happen," Nutt said. "I thought that if there would be that one drive where Tarvaris took the team down the field that he would gain confidence. But, instead he never got that confidence and it went the other way. He was just a freshman and he might have still made it, but he wanted to leave."

Weber indicated that Jones' injuries required much physical therapy during the season, and that a brace was tried in hopes it would relieve the pain and stress tto the leg joint, but it didn't help.

Elsewhere on the injury front, Weber indicated that both Tony Bua (shoulder) and Tony Ugoh (knee cartilage) would undergo surgery in the near future. Both should return for spring drills. Fred Talley, out of eligibility, will undergo major shoulder surgery from injuries that plagued him all season.

Nutt said he talked to Kenny Hamlin two days ago to discuss his future, but there was no indication from the junior free safety on whether he would declare for the NFL draft.

"He wanted to see what he could do as far as the rules to see where he stood," Nutt said. "He was going to ask (compliance director) Derrick Gragg. I don't know where they are in that process."

As far as the talk of an offensive coordinator, Nutt said he didn't plan on making any staff changes, but that could change.

"I've thought just a little about that," Nutt said. "I hate to let go of it. I think you could bring in about anyone you could name ... even a Bill Parcells or a Jimmy Johnson ... and you wouldn't see a difference. You could bring in a brilliant offensive mind and then you'd be calling for their head.

"I have not focused on the (offensive coordinator) move. It's hard to turn that loose. I think I can put our players in the best situation.

"Right now, my priority was to meet with Matt and get him with the doctor and Dean. Then, I've got recruiting. I've got blinders on with regard to recruiting. That's the priority now.

"I'm not saying that we won't ever do that (as far as hire an offensive coordinator.) That could happen at some point. It may happen, but I haven't thought that much about it right now. Right now I haven't focused on that. The easiest thing would be to turn it loose ... just CEO it. I would rather not do that. I want to be involved with the players."

Nutt was asked about the focus of the offense as far as calling mostly out routes or sideline routes, and whether or not more passes over the middle could have been called.

"I want to give our team the best chance to win," Nutt said. "I'd like to call more plays over the middle, and we could with the right personnel. I'd like to have a (Kellen) Winslow like Miami and throw it up there (in the middle) and let him go get it. We could do that with him. But, we don't have him.

"And, one of the things I consider is protection. Sometimes the best way to protect your QB is to waggle or boot and get him to the outside away from the rush. When you do that, you take away that route in the middle. I want protection. I want to keep away from the second-and-longs, the third-and-long situations. I don't want sacks.

"I think you guys will remember that Kay Stephenson was here and he is about as bright an offensive mind as there is, and they had an awful lot of sacks. I don't want that. I want to protect my quarterback and give our team the best chance to win. The best thing for us to move Matt and that's kinda been our deal."

As far as evaluation of the season, Nutt said he hasn't done a lot of that in the past week other than to say he understood the Georgia game, but not the bowl game.

"Georgia was good," Nutt said. "Now the bowl, that was different. I say the best way to describe (my mood) since the bowl game is to say unconsolable ... unconsolable.

"The Nashville trip ... what I think about that more than anything is that I was diappointed in the players. Effort. That hit me hard. Not all of them, but a lot of them.

"And, what I say about that, it's a direct extension of us, the coaches. That's us, is what I told the coaches before they went to the (coaching) convention. That's coaching. We are a direct extension of the players."

On trash talking and show boating, Nutt said he was bothered from the start of the bowl season through every NFL game that he's seen.

"I don't like that," Nutt said. "I hate it. All across the country, it's what you see. The trash talking ... it's a national past time.

"You can stop it. You say, 'Come over here by me.' That's how you stop it.

"I want our players to play hard, and they can celebrate with each other. They can jump in each other's arms. The LSU game with Decori Birmingham and Richard Smith jumping on top of him. That's the way it should happen. That's okay.

"We talked about it, then it got out of hand in the middle of the season, and then we scaled it back at the end."

It was suggested that some of it, espeically with Batman Carroll, popped up again during the bowl game. Nutt seemed surprised at that. He wanted to know he did it.

"I didn't see that, but we are going to get that stopped," he said. "I don't want that again."


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