We went four for four in the red zone. We got that fixed. Nine for 17 in 3rd down conversions and that is good. I just told these guys to enjoy this win. There are a lot of times that you get in games like this and you lose. I think you need to give Arkansas credit. I don't know why things happen the way they do, and it happened last year. I told our guys, I refuse to let them come out of that locker room feeling bad. I told them to enjoy it tonight, get in the training room if you have any nicks tomorrow, and by golly Monday we will go to work. Obviously we have some things to improve, and we will. I don't think we will have to worry about getting them cranked up for the game next week.
I think the thing we have to do is we have to be able to play a whole game like we did the first half. If I had the answer to why we didn't, I probably wouldn't be coaching. I think it is something we will continue to stress, and you can look all around the country and see it happen. I also think you have to give Arkansas credit. That quarterback is a big time player and they lead the SEC in offense. For the most part, the defense played well. Offensively, when we had to have it, we did it. Once again, that is something you learn from and you go.
What did you tell them at halftime being up by so much?
The thing I told them at half time, I didn't wan the negative thoughts in their head about coming back, I said, "Let's put the hammer down." But things did come easy, but in the SEC, nothing is going to be (completely) easy. That's why you have upsets and teams that shouldn't win all the time. We were fortunate to get out of it the way we did and we played the way we had to play to win at the end.
It seemed like you guys were still intent to attack in the air in the 3rd quarter.
Instead of us going out there and trying to go out there and do what we do, they were trying to get us in the perfect play and we got out of rhythm. When we line up and run, I think we are pretty good. When we try and line up and know where everybody is (the defense), that's when we got out of rhythm. That's the thing I talked to them guys about on the headphones and then we got back to doing that after Channing got the interception and we went right down the field. They also were run blitzing and trying to force us to pass the ball.
Was there anything on the players' faces when Arkansas started to make that run?
The thing I talked to them about was to "stay in the moment." That is hard to do, because everybody's mind is racing. The one thing I said about these guys that I am proud of is that I don't see any fear in their eyes. The thing that we have to do is instead of waiting for someone to make a play, and we have a lot of guys that can make a play, we have to get the guys to step up and make plays.
What about Dallas coming back from the end of the Tennessee game?
That is over with two weeks ago. Don't even bring that up. You didn't talk about all the blacks he makes and cuts he makes. He plays well. It didn't surprise me (he did well), he is that kind of player.
About Chris Leak's play…
When Chris is on he is pretty good, obviously. People made comments that he was off and I said it too last week, but he is a great player and those guys rally around Chris. He knows that he has a lot of weapons and is going to get better and better. You talk about a guy that is calm and cool, he doesn't change.
What went wrong defensively in the third quarter and fourth?
A lot of that was the quarterback. There were two or three plays there where we over ran the quarterback, and he cut back inside, and he is a good player. When you get tired, those things can happen. A couple of times we turned guys loose on inside routes. Then the bootleg routes he was able to fling it don there and they made some nice catches and nice plays.
Is this the best your offense has looked, during second quarter?
The thing that is exciting is that these guys are close.. I let Wednesday night at 10:10 and you had four players in there watching tape when I leave. They enjoy it and they are having fun. They are not jealous, when one makes a great play they are all right there with them. That is what is exciting about this team.
About the penalties down and no turnovers from last week…
Obviously, for us to be a good football team, you can't turn the ball over. One of the things we are big on is error percentage. To be a good football team you have to be disciplined and you can't have penalties.
The wide receivers, is it the best they have played?
I think they will continue to improve. The thing I get excited about, is when you watch them cut and chop and block. I said this before, we all know C-4 is a good running back, but you know he catches the ball out of the backfield and he blocks. Good receivers now a days not only catch touchdown plays and make big plays, but they are also blocking and that allows the running backs to make big plays.
About Lance Butler…
He's a big guy that gets down there and made a real big block on the reverse. You have a big 300 pounder coming down there, that defensive back is in trouble he has a big missile coming at him.
Is it hard for a team to prepare for you since you ran well last week and threw well this week?
I think they came in here trying to do what most teams do and stop the run.
About Caldwell and Cornelius…
I told them last week to just keep playing and things are going to happen. They work hard in practice and that's good to see. They just keep playing and stay patient and do the things we ask them to do. They all are going to be big players.
Channing's big play…
He is a great player and a great guy. The thing that you can tell is when you can make adjustments, that shows me they are paying attention. He's in to the game and studies the game. That's what you have to have; you have to have guys that will make plays.
How hard is it to prepare to stop a team that runs well one week and passes well the next?
I think every defensive coach has to come in thinking they need to stop the run in the SEC. Everyone can run the football and you have to go in and try to force them to throw. What you don't want to happen. In the third quarter, we were having problems with Matt Jones running and throwing. That is when you get back on your hunches and having trouble figuring out what to call. You want to try and force them to play one way.
Complimentary of Matt Jones or complacency.
Matt Jones did a great job, but at the same time we probably did let down. It is something we have to learn from and you can't do that. It is a human instinct. How do you fight it? You continually talk about it and preach it. Mike Degory told me a little while ago that "Coach we would have lost this game last year." That tells me that they understand we are making progress and listening to what we are saying. Does it work all the time? No It was a little bit of a let down and that is human nature, and we can't let that happen.
It was something in the coverage. I said something to Bill that they would come back with it because it was working. We just tweaked the coverage and said when he (Jones) does this, you do this, and this is what will happen.
What were you guys talking about when the defense goes out on the field before the turnover?
The thing I told them is what have been telling them all week. Play in the moment. Don't worry about what has happened or what is ahead. If you think about it, you are always thinking about what happened or is going to happen. Playing in the moment is a mature thing to do. Play with energy and play in the moment
How big was that play that Channing made?
It was big for a lot of reasons and more importantly number one it gets the ball back. But what you see from this team, its not an offense, defense and special teams. It's a whole team, because the offense goes in and we stick it in. We are playing as a team.
On telling the players after the game to not get too up about the win…
I know what is going to happen. The players are going to come in here and there are going to be things (that you guys ask).. I wanted them to understand that they should enjoy this win, but we have a lot of work to do.
LB CHANNING CROWDER
On the interception: "We were sitting back in Cover 2 and their player came across and I just did my job. The ball got tipped right into my stomach and I just took off running."
On Arkansas QB Matt Jones: "He is a really great quarterback but he really didn't do much in the first half. We knew that he was going to come out in the second half and make plays because he is an amazing quarterback. He came out and did a good job but we finished with more points than they did so we won the game."
On the Arkansas comeback: "We just had to keep playing because it is a 60 minute game and that's the big thing that it is all about. We just have to work on playing a full game and we will be fine."
QB CHRIS LEAK
On the win: "This is a good feeling to get back into the rhythm of things. Guys did a great job of making plays after the catch."
On the Arkansas defense: "Their defense did an awesome job of giving us a lot of different looks. It took us time to get adjusted but we finally got it going."
On Channing Crowder's interception: "It was an awesome play. They played great the entire game. Channing Crowder is just one of those guys who can make a big play for us."
S CORY BAILEY
On the comeback: "I never doubted or wondered about our defense. I just knew that we needed a big play or something big to happen. It is always creepy when you see something like that happen. You look at the game and would never imagine that happening coming out of halftime but you have to just keep playing."
On the interception: "Channing (Crowder) stepped up and we were able to get off the field. I just thanked him. He knew he did something great and we as a defense knew it was a great play."