The Vitals: The Rebels are on the SEC road two straight weeks, as Ole Miss (3-4, 1-3) visits Arkansas (3-4, 1-3) and Houston Nutt returns where he called home for 10 seasons. Both teams hold the same record, and the contest is imperative when it comes to bowl implications. With Auburn and a bye week ahead, the Rebels need the road win to get back to .500. Handling the early emotion by Arkansas will be key.
This game will mark the 55th meeting all-time between Ole Miss and Arkansas dating back to 1908. Ole Miss records show the Rebels trailing the series 24-29-1, while Arkansas' records indicate a 30-23-1 advantage for the Razorbacks. Arkansas claims a forfeit victory in a 1914 game that Ole Miss won 13-7. The two teams met almost yearly from 1937-1969 before the series took a hiatus until 1981. The two schools have played yearly since then, and Ole Miss is 9-17-1 against Arkansas since the series resumed. Arkansas holds a 10-6 edge since it joined the SEC in 1992 and have taken four straight, including a 44-8 triumph last year in Oxford. The Razorbacks are 8-1 all-time in Fayetteville matchups and have prevailed in the last three at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium.
TV: Pay-Per-View (Richard Cross, play-by-play; Harry Harrison, color analyst; Contact your local provider for availability; Available in select areas on ESPN Gameplan and ESPN360.com). The CSS replay of the game will be Sunday at 1 p.m. CT.
RADIO: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Pete Cordelli, color analyst; Stan Sandroni, sideline reporter). The in-stadium frequency in Fayetteville will be 89.7 FM. Satellite radio: Sirius 219 XM TBA.
WEB: OleMissSports.com will provide live audio through RebelVision, live stats and an in-game blog. The official Rebel athletics website will also provide a full game recap and a photo gallery at the game's conclusion.
Ole Miss Notes
Head Coach Bobby Petrino
"It was a hard game to think we lost. When you start the video and watch the video and grade it, players played extremely hard, gave a great effort. They were executing and we were in complete control of the game when the wheels fell off. That's my responsibility. I've got to make sure that we can finish the game, and win the game in the fourth quarter. I certainly have a lot of good feelings about how our football team prepared, how they went out and competed, and how hard we played. Obviously we'll have a lot to learn from it, we'll grow from giving a game away like that. It's a difficult thing to watch the video and not think that you won the game."
On the status of Michael Smith
"He's doing better. He improved Saturday night, yesterday and this morning. It will still be a situation where it's day to day, whether he'll practice tomorrow or not. We'll re-evaluate him in the morning and take some tests and see how he does. I am optimistic because of the improvement he made from Saturday to Sunday, and Sunday to today. It's still always a wait and see. He has a couple of things he has to make sure of; he has to pass the tests that they give him."
On the use of other running backs
"We've been wanting to do that (use other running backs,) for two or three weeks now. We have to run harder. DeAnthony (Curtis), D.J. (Williams) have to get a couple more opportunities. We've got to take care of the football. We were in a situation there in the fourth quarter when it looked like we were going to be able to run the ball and run the clock out, and then gave it away."
On the 4th quarter defensive signal issues
"There really wasn't any trouble getting the signals, it was that we had a different personnel group. One grouping was supposed to stay on the field and a guy ran off from the sideline. It wasn't the fact of getting the signal, it was the signal for one personnel group came in, and a different personnel group ran out onto the field."
On diversifying the offensive scheme
"We've been working towards that. We didn't get some completions. We've been working hard to get the passing game going. One thing that Casey Dick did a good job of was being a willing runner, and running the ball, and converting some first downs running the ball. We weren't able to get the ball to D.J. Williams much. I think some of that is because he was hobbling around a little bit, wasn't running full speed, wasn't really playing full speed. We did try to get DeAnthony (Curtis) in there a couple times, and get him going, but there's no question we have to do a better job. Our offensive line is providing us the opportunities to get yards and getting us into the open field, but there's no doubt about it we have to get someone else besides Michael Smith involved and comfortable making plays and calling plays for them. "
On the Ole Miss game
"I understand the build up by the Razorback fans, that's natural. As we watch the video we're focusing on how to move the ball, how to stop them, and not anything at all about who their coaches are. I think our players will do the same. Our players understand that it's our football team against their football team. Let's take the coaches out of it, let's take the past out of it and let's just get ready to go out there and compete, play hard, play the game that we all love. We'll just worry about the game. It's easier for me to say that than it might be to get done, but I really do feel like our players will feel the same way. "
On preparing for the Wild Rebel preparation
"I don't think there are any doubt that experience helps and the fact that Coach Allen was here for so many years and has the understanding of what they're trying to get done. I didn't know they changed the name though."
"Anytime you lose a ballgame like that where you have the game in your hands and the opportunity to really put it away and you make mistakes and they make plays, it's tough as a player and for a team to bounce back from that, but we'll see what kind of integrity and character this team has. I guess we'll find out tomorrow at practice how well we'll bounce back."
"When you see those plays and watch it on film, you wish it would have been different but that's football. You have to be able to make the plays when they're there for you, especially inside the five-yard line, giving your team a chance to pull away. We weren't able to do that and they made plays when they had to. You have to give credit to them, but at the same time, we have to improve in those areas."
"Once the ball is put down and they blow the whistle, it's time to play and you don't really think about the coaches, the coaching staff and who you're playing. All we know is we're playing the Ole Miss Rebels Saturday. It's a must-win game for us to get to postseason play. I think that's the attitude we're going to take in to it."
"(Playing in a bowl) is a chance to develop your team and keep the program going. It gives you a chance to develop the younger players and reward the older players, especially the seniors with one last time to have three weeks with the guys you've developed friendships with. Bowls are always fun. Just being with the guys and going to a different place to practice for a week and play the game you love, it's definitely a goal for us to get to."
"It will be different, but like I said, you won't pay attention or see them until after the game, so you go out there and play football to try and get a win. When you cross paths at the end of the game, you stop and say ‘hi' and ‘congratulations' but you're not really thinking about it when you're out there. You're thinking about your assignment and making plays for your team."
"(Saturday's loss) was definitely a tough one to swallow that night and watching the film, but that's what is so good about this sport. You have to be able to rebound and have a short-term memory, especially when you have dramatic losses like that and give the game away. You really just have to learn from your mistakes and move on."
"I think spreading the ball is essential in this league. The more and more carries (Michael Smith) gets, the more defenses will be able to pinpoint and concentrate on him. Once that happens, it will become more of a lockdown so we need to be able to open up the pass game, hit some receivers and get some guys out of the box. That will just create bigger plays for the offense and Michael Smith."
"(Ole Miss) is a good team. They've played some good teams and have really held their own against them. We're going to have our work cut out for us. Defensively, it's pretty much the same front we saw last year. They have a good pass rusher on the end, solid guys up front and the linebackers make plays. It's just another game in the SEC. You're going to play the best and I think we're ready for the best."
"I'm feeling good about my confidence as a kicker. I'm glad I can do my job."
"After a game like this past weekend, it's tough to get sleep thinking about the game, but before the game I'm really relaxed and thinking about what I have to do. When it's time I have to go out there and execute, and I think the team has the same attitude."
"It's been pretty crazy. Two years ago I was at TCU and I really didn't even play. I didn't play football for a year, last year, and all of a sudden, I just wanted to play again. A few months go by and next thing I know, I'm starting. It's a good feeling and I'm excited."
"Being a kicker, you're either a hero or a zero. Last year (Alex) had tremendous success and he was a great kicker—still is a great kicker. This year when he was struggling, I felt for him. Being a kicker, you never wish that for anybody. I think he's got it worked back out and handled the situation well."
"(My first game) was the Little Rock game (against Louisiana-Monroe). I went to the game thinking it was cool getting to go and knowing it was a great opportunity for me to just be in the atmosphere. As the game went on, it looked more and more like I was going in. This could come down to me, so I had to my mind right and go in and do what I practice doing."
"We held (Kentucky) to under 100 yards rushing which is always good, but we didn't get pressure at the end of the game. We know we have a young secondary and we should have helped them a lot in that area. Overall, we held the rushing game to under 100 yards and that's a plus."
"The fourth quarter (film) was tough to watch. As a defensive lineman, you always want to make that play to help someone else out. Personally, I think we should have had more pressure on the quarterback and made him throw a bad pass."
"They picked up on the schemes we were running. We were running stunts to help us get more penetration to the quarterback and by the fourth quarter, they had seen everything we had and we were doing straight rushes. The quarterback got rid of the ball in a good, decent time."
"With three minutes left in the game, we're getting ready to prepare for a celebration in the locker room. Two minutes later, we're behind. It's devastating for everybody."
"You just put it behind you. It's another SEC game. We want to go to a bowl game this year and win every game we can. It's just another chance for us to go and compete, whether it's Ole Miss or Florida."
"Coach Nutt gave me a shot when nobody gave me a shot. Personally, he's one of the best men I know. To play against him is not that hard because I'm not looking at it like I'm playing against Coach Houston Nutt. I'm playing against Ole Miss."
"It's been an adjustment (playing defensive tackle) because I always thought of myself as a defensive end. Coming here, I thought my four years would be spent at defensive end so when I got moved to defensive tackle, I thought it was just a temporary move. I didn't think it was going to be my position for the rest of my career, but I've learned to play it and I've gotten a lot better at it."
PC courtesy of the official Arkansas web site and other information supplied by OleMissSports.com
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