Houston Nutt Sunday press conference

The following is Coach Houston Nutt's weekly press conference, held this week on Sunday afternoon because of the open date coming up Saturday.

Nutt: After watching the film, the one thing that keeps popping up is that so many series look so good, and I mean well-executed. The first two drives offensively were well executed against the No. 1 defense in the SEC. When you get up 14-3, it's a great feeling. But that's where it's team football. That's where things have to stay intact. You can't give up a fumble and have them run it in. This is where the biggest job comes in. It's the mindset that I've talked about for a long time, that when something bad happens, that's what you're trying to change for four straight years. And it's hard. It's harder than I thought. Thought we played hard. Thought for the most part we put Florida behind us; we put a real emphasis on that. Told them how good South Carolina is. Competed hard. But defensively I didn't think we had the same bite as last week. I'm sure there was a lot of emotion and energy used the previous week. But still, no excuse. Got to make a play. Got to make plays. Smelley was hot and hit some things on us. Got in a rhythm. But I go back to the two turnovers. You can't turn the ball over and win in this league. You just can't do it. The team that makes the fewest mistakes is going to win. The team that wins the turnover margin is going to win. We'll put a real emphasis on that. I feel like there've been some strides made, but there are some things we can do to help Dexter.

Q: You mentioned the defense not having quite the same bite against South Carolina as against Florida. Where did that manifest itself in your eyes?

Nutt: They stayed on the field by making plays. Cook, Brown, the receivers, Smelley. They were hot as a firecracker. We've got to make some plays. We were mis-aligned a couple of times, especially going in. Twenty going in shouldn't have got that post in there. We should have had somebody right there knocking that ball down, defending that end zone. That one hurt. Then they hit a draw a couple of times on us that made some big gains and had us off-balance a little bit. Again, I just think that you have to go back to work. It's the only thing you can do. Work and get better.

Q: What will you emphasize most the next two weeks during this open week and also getting ready for Alabama?

Nutt: Offensively it will definitely be ball-handling, taking care of the ball, especially going in. You love Dexter's competitive spirit. Plays so hard. He's going to always grade out high, just like he did today with the exception of the turnover. You just have to tell him as fearless as he is that when he's in that crowd and he's already got the first down, go down with both hands on that ball. He's competing for every inch. He leaves that ball in a vulnerable position. We can't have that. Jevan has to understand when there's a collapsed pocket. He probably played his best game of the year, except for one play. There at the end of the game, he could have dumped the ball to the backs. But he's trying to make that play down the field, just dump it to the backs. The thing about a two-minute drill with that sense of urgency and hurry-hurry, the most important thing is completions, completions. Our dump-off was there. Just dump it off. We can't get it all in one big chunk. He's going to learn. He'll know much better next time.

Q: What do you do with a team that appears to be as fragile mentally as this one?

Nutt: The only thing I know to do, because this is truly my first experience with it, is that I still believe in them. I really believe in them. I still believe we can have a good year. I'm going to encourage them and try to help them get better each day at the little things. Keep preaching that if something bad happens, and this is why football is a great teacher.....I saw it when they ran in the ball on Jevan's fumble. I was the only cheerleader on the sideline. It took the air out of them. I said ‘It's just one play.' When I looked in my guys' eyes, they didn't see it that way. The only thing I know to do is to keep helping them, encouraging them, and to realize it's the next play. We're going to get it back. It's the next play. We go in at halftime ahead, but it didn't feel that way. If you look in our guys' eyes, it didn't feel that way.

Q: Is it hard, at cornerback for example, to really motivate when you only have two deep, and there is no motivation of dangling the carrot in front of them, so to speak?

Nutt: I don't look at it that way. I look at it as ‘Hey, look. We're putting you out here because we believe in you. We're putting you out here because we want you to get better, get better fundamentally, know what to do and play hard. Play with your eyes, break on the ball, make a play.' I want to get more out of Cassius Vaughn. He's a better athlete than what he's showing. I want him to be better. Marshay is a manufactured corner. The one thing you like about Marshay Green is he's a competitor. Look in his eyes and his eyes are alive. He wants to do well, he competes, and he works hard every day. So that's what you appreciate. Look at Jamarca Sanford, Peria Jerry, you've got some guys that really care and want to do it the right way. They really do. So the only thing I know to do is keep believing in them and showing them a plan that this is how we do it. That's where I thought the game with Florida would really come in and help us in a game like this.

Q: You safeties are making a lot of plays. Is that a product of the system, or just the way things have worked out?

Nutt: A lot of it is which call we have. Jamarca Sanford, I don't care what system you have, he would be a playmaker. He's having a good year. Good tackler. Hustles. It's geared for these safeties to make plays and bring them down in the box. We mix it up with coverages. I just don't like giving up the big plays. We gave up some big plays with the post in the end zone and the wheel routes. I just don't like giving up the big plays. It's too much yardage.

Q: What's your schedule this week with the open date and then Alabama up the following weekend?

Nutt: We'll work real hard fundamentally this week. We'll get some guys healthy. Probably scrimmage our redshirt freshmen this week, give them some time. But also we won't miss a day of good work, really working hard to improve, especially taking care of the ball. We'll work today, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then we'll come back for an exaggerated Sunday. Sunday probably won't be a normal Sunday. It will probably be a longer Sunday to get ahead. We'll have a good, long week of fundamentals and try to prepare for Alabama and also give our freshmen some looks.

Q: Were there some holes Saturday your running backs didn't hit?

Nutt: Feel Brandon Bolden is doing better. Eason hit the hole early and missed a couple. Brandon also missed one or two. I just think they're trying to feel their way a little bit. What's tough in a game like that, it's hard because we wanted to get Enrique in there. But it's hard with the number of possessions and what we're doing as far as having to throw. You want to put your best pass protectors in the game and your best hands that will go out for passes. That's why those two guys are in there the majority of the time. We've still got to get better. The left side I thought for the most part with Daverin Geralds, there were a few holes in there. I loved those first two or three series. It really felt like we were run-blocking, pass-blocking, play-action. Had them off balance. It was a good start. We've got to finish it and score more points.

Q: Does it feel to you the flow of the game is being hampered by replay?

Nutt: Amen. Amen. It has, it seems to me. I've got a call in to Rogers Redding (officials coordinator for the SEC) to see if this is the norm now. The last three weeks to me is more than I've experienced the last three years of just replay after replay and stopping the flow of the game. Seems like a lot of unnecessary replays. I don't understand it. I'm with you. I'm going to ask that question.

Q: Has it gotten progressively worse?

Nutt: It has this year.

Q: Are the replay officials in the press box seeing a multitude of angles or just the main one we see on the video board? I wonder how many angles they are looking at?

Nutt: I do too, especially two or three calls yesterday. I know they're looking at every play. That's what I've been told. I don't know how many different angles they have. That's a good question. I don't know what all they're looking at. Are they looking at what's being shown on the board or do they have several angles? I don't know. I would suspect several angles, because it takes so long. It's taking a long time to see. I just hope they get it right. But it does really interrupt the flow of the game.

Q: Did you consider challenging Lionel Breaux's play?

Nutt: Yes. I was standing there by the ref. I said ‘I can't believe you didn't think that was a catch. I'm going to challenge it, but I'm running out of timeouts here.' He said, ‘Coach, they're looking at it now.' I said, ‘I sure hope so, because you missed it.' So we waited and waited and the guy behind him said ‘Coach, they've already looked at it.' So that really tells me they're not going to overturn it. If they didn't stop the game to look at it, I don't have a good chance to win that, so you're wasting a good timeout. The way the score was, I couldn't gamble with that timeout. I needed every one of them.

Q: Who was the guy you mentioned behind the ref?

Nutt: I think it was the alternate official that said they were looking at the replay now.

Q: Injuries?

Nutt: Lionel Breaux because of the hit. Just ankles and shoulders, very physical game. Johnny Brown slight concussion. I think he'll be allright.

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