The Rebels continue their march towards its second consecutive New Year's Day Bowl. To see where…
HDN Sunday teleconference
Nutt's Opening Statement: After watching the film this morning, I've got the same sick feeling I had yesterday. I felt it was a good week of preparation. As much as we put emphasis on this game, they physically whipped us. That's the thing that is most disappointing. I'm never going to make excuses, but I think 11 straight weeks of ball and with putting so much energy into Tennessee and LSU was hard on us. But at the same time, I think our guys know how big yesterday was in terms of bowl scenarios. Our defense probably played its worst game with missed tackles and missed assignments with the option and that's frustrating. Our front has always been our strength and we just didn't get it done there and in other areas. We tell them each week it's who is best during a three-hour period and we were not yesterday. I think a lot of it was the last couple of weeks having spent a lot of bullets and you can't help but in your mind think when it's 45-0 last year that it will be easier. But you have to throw all the records out. I probably should have done a better job, I don't know what else I could have done, but I have a sick feeling of what didn't we do and what could we have done better as a staff to get them to the highest level again? I thought at half, at 13-10, we had things in control and we had taken their best bullet. When Patrick Trahan got that turnover, I thought this was our time, but we settled for threes instead of sevens. That gave them confidence and turned it into a tough game. We have a chance now to go back to work after a little break and play one more game, which is awesome.
Q: What did you think of Dan Mullen addressing the crowd at midfield and his comment in reference to your comment about the only program in the state on the rise? Did you hear that?
Nutt: I didn't hear any of that.
Q: What did you think in terms of the intensity of the rivalry? Does this ratchet up the intensity for you?
Nutt: Yes, absolutely.
Q: Do you follow the bowl scenarios? What are your thoughts?
Nutt: I think everyone is guessing now. Had we won, it was pretty clear cut for us, but now it's a different scenario and would be wasted energy for me right now.
Q: What is the schedule for this week?
Nutt: I'm going to let them get away from football for a while. We may lift toward the end of the week and we may practice a little Saturday for our younger guys since we have a big recruiting weekend this weekend. Other than that, we will get away from it for at least a few days.
Q: How does that game affect recruiting?
Nutt: I don't think it does. You have to go by the whole season. We are going to back-to-back bowl games, which hasn't happened in a while. We had a real positive response after the game from two or three of our recruits. They are still pumped up. When you beat UT, LSU and Arkansas in the same year, recruits pay attention. You look at our conference. This is a tough, tough league. If you look at eight wins and 4-4 in the SEC, there are a lot of people who would trade with us. We are not satisfied by any means. We want to go to Atlanta. But we're going to have a good recruiting class, if that is what you are asking.
Q: What are your needs for recruiting?
Nutt: Offensive line and secondary are the major deals. We will fill in the blanks from there with linebackers, a couple of wideouts, defensive ends, a running back. The problem is that with our greyshirts we are looking at 18-19 we can sign. We have to be very selective and all our signees have to be good student-athletes. What's tough is OL. It's tough for OL to play early but this is a critical year for us in that area.
Q: How are you doing in those key areas?
Nutt: Real good. We are zeroed in on OL, a safety, a corner, maybe a couple of older guys (JUCOs) at DE and at safety. We are doing very, very good and a lot of young men are excited about our program. When we get them on campus, you will see what I am talking about.
Q: What do you think of the chippy nature of recruiting these days and having someone in state who is willing to take shots at you in public?
Nutt: It's my first experience with it, but again I can't worry about that. I have been in this league a long time and you have to be consistent. You have to have winning seasons and go to bowl games and you have to go to Atlanta. That is what we are used to doing. Words and things like that are not going to affect us or our recruiting. It just makes the rivalry. We are recruiting some of the same kids and run into each other more often, but other than that, there are no big differences.
Q: How do you view your program right now?
Nutt: We have a lot of things that are very good. We are sick about yesterday. The players are sick and I want them to be. I know I am. We planned on winning that game, but everyone will look back and see a Cotton Bowl and whatever bowl we go to this year back-to-back and that's very good on the heels of four losing seasons. We are going to build on that. We still have to be much more consistent, and we will be.
Q: What have you thought of your staff's performance?
Nutt: We are still full speed ahead. The season is not over. A lot of teams have to put their footballs up, but we don't. That is what is exciting. We get more practices and we get to go to a very good bowl. Everybody is recruiting, coaching, planning. Right now, there are no changes planned on our staff. They did good. Anytime you do what we did, the staff has done fine. We had a good regular season, but yesterday would have been the cherry on the top and made it very, very, very good. That is what I am down about.
Q: What about injuries?
Nutt: We are beat up, but nothing major. The same soreness we've had for two or three weeks. You saw Patrick walk in on crutches before the game, but he played. We have a lot of injuries that guys need about a week off to heal.
Q: Talk about Shay Hodge and his 1,000 yard season and his catch yesterday for a TD. Does he play with a chip on his shoulder due to lack of recognition as one of the best in the league?
Nutt: He should be recognized as one of the best. To do what he has done in this league against the corners he faces is outstanding. We are going to be able to sign two very good receivers based on what he has done this season. He may not be a nation wide name, but we will make sure every stat is known to all our recruits. We'll be rewarded for his accomplishments. We will miss him. I'm glad we have one more game with him. He has done so much for our program and that catch was phenomenal. Unbelievable concentration. It was big time and why it drew national praise.
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