Nutt: 'I'm really proud of our team'

The following is Coach Houston Nutt's postgame press conference Saturday as the Rebels beat the Razorbacks 30-17.

Nutt: I'm really proud of our team. I thought they executed very well. I was really proud of our defense. I thought Tyrone called a beautiful game. We kept pressure on the quarterback. We stopped them when we really needed to stop them. I was proud of our offense today, proud of our offensive line. When you rush for over 220-something yards and got backs running hard, you want ask me today if Dexter's going to get the ball. Eight carries in the first quarter for about 80-something yards. What I love is he blows out that toe in the second quarter, and he said just give me another show. Let me keep going. He's only 171 pounds soaking wet. But is heart is bigger than Vaught-Hemingway. I appreciate and want to thank our fans. Our fans were truly the 12th man today. They were outstanding. I really appreciate them. They played every play with us. Jevan, besides one decision today, I thought he was perfect. Just one decision on the little outright we wanted to throw to Dexter. He took a shot at the post corner and it got tipped up and intercepted. But other than that, he threw the ball away today. He was very, very accurate. He's a winner. Not one quarterback I know wants to throw interceptions. It hurts him when it happens. He's a competitor. He's a winner. Our offensive line gave us time to throw today. The receivers executed. But Dexter McCluster was the key. You line him back seven yards, and they have to defend that. Now the passing game takes off, and that's the game we want to play. I though our kickoff coverage was good. Andrew gave us several kicks that were very, very deep and in the corner, which we wanted. Good win.

Q: Was Dexter used more at running back because you thought it was a good thing against Arkansas or will we see more of this?

Nutt: I'd rather not say. But he's a true weapon. He's awesome.

Q: You held them to 45 yards rushing. That had to be a positive for you.

Nutt: I was really proud of our defensive front. I thought they played hard. The linebackers, all of them. Michael Smith is so explosive, he can change the game. We did an excellent job bottling him up. It was gang tackling and everybody doing their job. It was fun to watch.

Q: Did you notice a difference in your players this week because it was Arkansas?

Nutt: The next game's always the biggest game, but they know how we feel. They know how important it is for us with so many carryovers on our staff. There are a lot of guys who walked those halls and coached on that sideline. So it's hard for our players not to feel that.

Q: What was the reluctance to use Dexter that much at running back earlier this season?

Nutt: I though we'd be a little further along. I thought we wouldn‘t have any trouble moving the ball. I thought we'd be fine. And we could use Dexter for screens, reverses, all those things. It just helps when a quarterback can turn around and hand the ball to a guy that can stretch the field, hit a gap and a crease. It's a lot easier to call when it's second and three, second and four rather than second and 12. The thing you worry about is he's a171 pounds and how many hits can he take in this league. Thirty touches today. We wanted to give it to him, but we didn't know about 30. But I'm glad he touched everyone of those today."

Q: Talk about your postgame emotions when you were talking to the Arkansas players.

Nutt: It's just hard when you've been in their living rooms and there was a relationship formed. You know their moms and brothers and sisters. That's what makes this week difficult. It's about relationships. We have a good relationship with them. They're good kids and good players. You just can't throw that away.

Q: Talk about the importance of this game as far as where you are this season in the SEC race.

Nutt: This is the critical point of the year. Everybody needs to win this weekend. You're past the midway point now. You're heading home. Everybody wants to get to six. You're working and fighting to get to Atlanta. Then the bowls and all those things that come into play now. The next game is the biggest gae now, and that's Auburn.

Q: Talk about hearing the "Houston Nutt" chants from the Ole Miss fans at the end of the game after there was some criticism earlier in the season.

Nutt: There was? I didn't hear any criticism. I'm kinda locked up in that film room. I'm glad I didn't hear it. Our fans are tremendous. They're outstanding and they played a tremendous role. Here's the thing I know about coaching. It's a different time, a different world. When you can get on Bobby Bowden, everybody's going to be criticized. I tell our players we're the ones in the arena. We want to stay focused. We have a good team. Stay focused. Don't worry about what people say. That's not going to help us. What's important is to get better. This is what I loved it when we weren't doing as well on offense. Our guys stayed together, stayed the course, kept working, kept trying to get better, and you see the results the last two weeks.

Q: Up 17-0, how much did you feel you have them on their heels the rest of the game?

Nutt: The first half I felt really good and felt we had them a little on their heels. Really hate we didn't get the seven down there when we had the reverse pass. That should have been seven. The second half we got down inside the 5 and didn't score. We've got to get that corrected. That's eight more points. Then you really knock them out. But you still felt good, why? Defense.

Q: How important was getting points after the tipped pass that led to their TD cut it to 24-17?

Nutt: I immediately went to the offensive line and said hey we've got to respond. Respond and give them no hope. I loved the look in their eyes. Their focus today was awesome. That's what it's all about.

Q: Talk about clock management at the end of the first half.

Nutt: I didn't want them to pick up a fumble or have an interception and go into the dressing room and feel bad. My instincts said let's go for it. But hold on. Let's go into the dressing room at 17-7. That's a good lead. Ten points. That means they have to score twice. If we were to go in up 17-14, I'm not feeling good at all. I still felt like we had momentum.

Q: Talk about the success your team had on third downs.

Nutt: Starts with protection. We worked hard this week on protection. We knew they'd blitz us and give us different looks. I was real proud of that. But it's Jevan's decision making and our route running was real good. When you have the threat to run, there's nothing like good first down plays. Now you can manage second and third much easier.

Q: After the UAB did you finally see your offense getting better?

Nutt: We were executing better. Everybody was maintaining their blocks. Throwing and catching. Doing the little things better to be a good offense. That to me is what's important.

Q: How much did knowing their personnel help in gameplanning?

Nutt: It always helps when you know them, when you know the players, know what makes them tick. Their strengths and weaknesses. It always helps.

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