There is nothing like winning, even when it is ugly. But today was pretty to me. It is beautiful. Our defense just played outstanding, I gave Tyrone and the defensive staff a game ball. I usually give out game balls afterward. I gave two today: One to Tyrone and his staff, and also, I gave one in honor of Kent Austin's mom who passed this week. It has been a tough week for him. If we don't turn the ball over, we have a chance to win. We can beat anyone on our schedule. If we don't turn it over. And today was just that. There were some ugly spots offensively, and we'll get that corrected, but you have to give credit to their defense. They are very good, but when we don't turn over and our defense gets turnovers, man, it makes for a very good day. I was very proud of our special teams again; they have been very good most of the year. Coach Vaughn, Dameron, Shibest, they have done a great job. This was a team win. I thought our crowd was outstanding. They were into it. It was the loudest since I have been here. They performed very well. I appreciate them.
On the offensive line:
Challenged the offensive line for the last couple weeks. It really started before Fayetteville. They had good pad level, coming off the ball. Creating some seams and creases for our backs. Really proud of that. And even though Jevan didn't have a great game, there were some throws right before the half, hit Shay Hodge down the sideline and again in the end zone. So, he made some key throws. But then again, we all depended on the offensive line. They did an excellent job of opening holes. I was proud of them.
On the secondary and getting turnovers:
They have been picked on this year, but I have been proud because I go by practice, and their habits and attitudes, they have been enthusiastic. You know, after playing Saturday, we come back on Sunday afternoon. It isn't easy. It is a quick turnaround. The one thing I want to get corrected is the little pushing and shoving and retaliation. You can never do that, never. Never, ever do that. That is disappointing. But they did a great job catching the ball, man, there is nothing like a turnover. It ignites your offense and gives them a lot of hope, especially when we are having a tough day. Defense saved us.
On what the win opens up for the season:
This was a giddy week for us, because I met with our seniors twice this week. I usually just meet with them once. I told them that we have something to play for. There are people coming to watch. Jason Cook made the statement that we have never had this opportunity before. Where November is important, something to play for. There was a real buzz amongst the players on how important this home game was. We felt like we owed our home fans a game, it wasn't as pretty as I would like, but it was beautiful. You win an SEC game, you know how tough that is, but you can tell by the effort, they know what is going on. They see people in jackets (bowl committee members), really nice jackets, that are here. It hasn't happened before. A long, long time.
On Kentrell Lockett's improvement:
He has improved and taken steps to get better ever since the first game. Coach Decker's done a great job with him, because he is the heaviest now. Most of the time, if you check weights, usually, especially on the defensive line, you are losing weight. He isn't. He is about 250 and quick, chases the quarterback, relentless. And I love e his attitude, the way he comes to play.
On Derrick Davis being in the game on the touchdown catch:
We have been working on that play for about three weeks, where we would slip Derrick Davis in there, they won't recognize his number. He does a short motion across and gives the perception that it is a running play, then he sneaks out the back and comes across the grain. It worked out the way we hoped where he gets lost. And he has good hands. We flip him a five-yard throw, and it is a much-needed six points. I was beginning to wonder if we could ever cross the last white line today.
On McCluster's versatility:
Derrick Nix has done a really good job of trying to coach, coach, coach ball security and three points of pressure. We have been hammering that in. He is a beautiful route runner, he can run routes. What he gives us seven yards deep is a step we don't have. He is quicker than all the backs we have. And he can find a little crease and get in it. He can turn short runs into very long runs. We felt like we needed him, needed that burst. But we don't want to give up our receiving. We can't give up those plays. He plays with so much heart, small as he is. He handles the ball in the Wild Rebel, he catches the ball and now he is running it. And knock on wood, two games without a – let's not talk about it.
On Marshay's INT in the red zone:
It was huge momentum swing because if they go in and score, I have to start thinking onsides kicks and boy you are in another can of worms. But that interception allowed us to be able to run some valuable time off the clock and change the game.
On the long pass where the receiver stepped out of bounds:
The official said the defender shoved him out of bounds. Said our defender, Cassius, rubbed him, and he has the right to get back in bounds. I just saw him coming back in play. I didn't see the part where he was pushed out. So, that is why I used a timeout. I felt like I needed to gamble at that time after seeing the replay. Hoping we could get that overturned.
On Jevan's struggles:
I think it is mental. I always watch the quarterback's eyes and early on, the pocket was collapsing, and when your eyes to go the pockets that's collapsing, now the timing is off. I think that is it. It is just youth. He is going to be so much better. We got on him pretty hard about look, ‘you are going to get hit, you know that. They are a good defensive line, one of the best, so sit in there. When you set your feet and go through progressions, we have a chance. Otherwise we don't.' That is what looked ugly, those few plays where his eyes focus on the rush, and now our timing is messed up and we aren't throwing on time. It looks bad.
On making big plays at the end of games:
Before we went to Arkansas, we talked about the balls that are going to start bouncing our way. We have had too many bounce the other way. It is time for us to start making our own breaks. Change the outcome of the game. That is what has happened, you get three turnovers, you aren't turning the ball over. You are changing the makeup of your team. That is what has been hard for us. Just like today, there is still that recipe in there to make it close. No, we don't want to make it close. Let's don't do that. Let's not have a 15-yard penalty. I don't know what the explanation was when we stopped them, our crowd was into it and we stopped them. Then, our nose tackle was called for a personal foul. My goodness, we can't have that. We work too hard to get them off the field. We are going to harp so hard on things like that, but it is so good, so much more fun to go back and work on those things with a W, with a win. And hopefully we can get on them a little harder, and they can learn something.
Houston Nutt -
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