Tuesday, January 1st, 2008


On the inability to stop the Missouri running game: “They did a better job blocking and running than we did tackling. We played a three-man front some, and that didn’t work. We then put six in the box, they had five blockers and that didn’t work. When you outnumber them in the box and still can’t stop them, the bottom line is that they did a better job of preparing their guys to play than we did.”

On whether the Missouri offense did anything unexpected: “They didn’t run a play we hadn’t seen. They did a better job and wanted it more than we wanted it. They were certainly the better team. They did a better job of coaching and running and blocking and tackling than what we did trying to defend it. That’s oversimplified, but it’s about as true as you can get.”

On the defensive strategy entering the game: “We felt like if we could get it to third-and-long that we would have a chance. But we couldn’t get it to third-and-long because we couldn’t stop the running game. If you can’t stop the run, I don’t care who you’re playing against, you’re not going to win. We didn’t do a good job of even slowing it down, much less stopping it. They’re a good offensive football team. They spread you out, but they can run it. We certainly didn’t help our cause any by the way we tackled.”

On the Arkansas turnovers: “We’ve taken really good care of the ball all year. You wouldn’t trust anybody more than Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis, but it popped out. … Felix is fighting for extra yards when he fumbles. He’s trying to take all 11 of them into the end zone with him. That’s what happens sometimes. It just happens. It’s one of those deals. The football gods were smiling on Missouri a little more than the Hogs.”

On the Missouri defensive scheme: “They played a lot of double coverage. … If we could have done a little better up front, stayed on some blocks a little bit longer and popped those backs, it could have been a different game. But you have to give credit to Missouri. They stopped us.”

On Darren McFadden’s day rushing: “There was nothing wrong with Darren. There were just too many times that there was nothing there for Darren. He went to the line of scrimmage and it was all blocked up. … He couldn’t bounce in or he couldn’t bounce out. It had nothing to do with Darren or Felix (Jones). They ran well. What was there, they took. I didn’t see either one of them miss a cut. We just needed to block them a little bit better, a little bit longer and a little bit more efficiently.”

On Arkansas’ chances to come back from an early deficit: “We had a lot of plays where we could have come back and had a chance in the game. But we fumbled in critical situations. There is nothing we can do about it now but accept reality.”

On whether Missouri was better than expected: “Missouri was a very hard-nosed team. They played very hard. They outplayed us. As far as the talent level, I think we have played a lot better teams. But you have to give it up to them. They’re hard-nosed, they’re tough and they were hitting us a lot harder than we were hitting them. They did a great job.”

On whether the Arkansas coaching search distracted the team in its bowl preparations: “We thought we were doing well. Coach (Reggie) Herring came in and did a great job. I don’t know where we went wrong.”

On whether Missouri’s offensive strength was better than expected: “We respected them from the get go. … I felt our corners and safeties stopped (Missouri QB) Chase Daniel and kept him contained. We didn’t have a lot of focus on the run, and that’s where they hurt us. They had good speed. … It comes down to who wants it more. They outworked us today. They wanted it more, and that’s unfortunate.”

On whether he will come back for his senior year: “I want to talk to my family and talk to the coaches. When I make my decision, I’ll let everybody know. We’re going to talk about it and make the decision that’s best.”

On whether the Missouri defense did anything unexpected: “We hurt ourselves more than they hurt us. It was just not our day today. They play real good defense. You can’t knock them for that. We just didn’t execute. We had a lot of turnovers, and that hurt us. It was like a domino effect. Once one thing happened, it just all started coming down. It was hard to regroup. We kept fighting to the end.”

On whether Missouri had a chip on its shoulder about not getting into the BCS: “They came out ready to play. They probably did think about that and let their frustrations out on us.”

On whether he will come back for his senior year: “I will be a Razorback next season. I still have some things I need to work on as a player and develop as a person. The NFL will always be there. Playing for the Razorbacks is too good of a moment.”

On learning a new offense under new Head Coach Bobby Petrino: “I don’t think it will be that bad. Spring football will help. We’ll be fine.”

On the Missouri defensive front: “They did some stuff we didn’t expect them to do, but it wasn’t something we hadn’t seen before. They did a great job and had a great game plan for stunting up front and bringing blitzes in different gaps. You have to give them credit. We just didn’t execute the way we needed to in order to get a win.”

On whether this was the best defense Arkansas had played this year: “I wouldn’t go that far. We had our opportunities on their side of the field, but we would shoot ourselves in the foot with missed assignments and penalties before the snap. That changes the playbook when you make those mistakes.”

On whether Arkansas was properly prepared for the game: “We were prepared. We just didn’t play good football. We didn’t take care of the ball. … They played great and tackled well. They did everything well.”

On whether the coaching transition affected Arkansas’ preparations: “I don’t think that had anything to do with it. We didn’t play our best football game, and they played pretty well today. … That’s probably one of the best games they’ve played all year long.”

On whether the Missouri defense is among the best defenses Arkansas played: “They certainly were today. They had great tackling. They did everything very well. They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect. But they made great open-field tackles on everybody. They got to me quite a bit. Give them all of the credit.”

-- 72nd AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic --