Hoover, Ala.--Without a doubt the biggest story during the off-season for the Arkansas Razorbacks was the addition of new offensive coordinator Gul Malzahn along with his high school quarterback Mitch Mustain.
The two most anticipated additions to Arkansas football in a long time, Nutt said that he's looking forward to seeing how both respond to big-time college football but Mustain has a big battle on his hands to win the starting quarterback job with returning starters Robert Johnson and Casey Dick at the position.
"Robert Johnson has seven games under his belt and Casey Dick has four games," Nutt said. "You've got two quarterbacks that have played in the SEC and that's a comfort level. We want to have a quarterback like Mitch Mustain. He's a Gatorade All-American and a Parade All-American. He'll be given a real look. He probably will be more comfortable in the passing game because he's done some of those things in high school. Jumping from Friday night to Saturday is an awful big step in the SEC."
Also new to the staff this year is Alex Wood. A former coordinator in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings and a coach at Miami under Dennis Erickson, Nutt said that Wood along with Malzahn gives him some offensive expertise to help open up the Razorbacks in 2006.
"He brings a lot to the table and I'm excited about him," Nutt said of Wood. "Gus Malzahn, everywhere he's been he's been successful. What those guys will bring is tremendous imagination and great detail in the passing game. One thing we've been good at is running the football. Three of the last four years we've led the SEC in rushing and we're constantly striving for balance. Hopefully those guys will bring balance to our offense."
Nutt also took the time to squash some of the rumors that have abounded since spring practice. Running a wide-open offense in high school that is similar to Urban Meyer's system, Malzahn has plenty of different weapons to choose from at Arkansas including perhaps the top running back group in the country. Because of that Nutt said you can't always believe what you hear.
"I think there are two misconceptions," Nutt said. "One is that we're going to be five wideouts and throw the ball 50 or 60 times a game. I think that's one. Two is that there has been some animosity or problems amongst the staff. Those are the two things that have come out since they arrived. Whether that's just boredom or rumor I don't know. Sometimes stories just take off, but that's just not true."
Darren McFadden quickly became a force in the SEC last year as a freshman.
Every year Nutt comes to SEC Media Days and talks about how little respect his team is getting from the media during the summer. That wasn't the case this year as last season's disappointment has been replaced by optimism with 19 returning starters. A team talked about as having a chance to make the biggest move of the year, the Razorbacks aren't the underdogs this season and Nutt said that's different.
"We had a tough year last year and it's a terrible feeling," Nutt said. "The only thing I see is that I look in their eyes, their work ethic, their attitude, their sacrifice and the chemistry that starts in January. We had that long December break and came back to school on the 14th and it was disappointment. They're hungry and our fans are hungry. The coaches are hungry times 10. They expect to win and for good things to happen. That's the way I want it."