"Well, we will wrap up the Middle Tennessee game and first of all I told the team I was proud of them; how they came out of the locker room right at the beginning, which they should. The defense forced three turnovers, no real big plays. Nine out of 12 on third- and fourth-down conversions, which was a huge number. Offensively, no turnovers. Nine yards an attempt throwing the ball. Sixty percent on third down. We really did a great job of shrinking the game in the second half to not give them a breath of comeback. That was good and the kicking game, I felt we were really sound and controlled the vertical field position, which helped us.
"We gave players of the week to two guys. On offense, Justin (Worley) and Da'Rick (Rogers). Justin really played well and played like we'd hoped he'd play a week ago. He just was real confident in the huddle, confident in taking the snap, and pulled the trigger throwing the ball the way we thought he could. That allowed Da'Rick to make a lot of plays. We gave it to the whole defense. Any time you pitch a shutout in today's game, everybody really played well. More than anything, they executed the plan against a fast-paced offense. Special teams, we gave it to Brian Randolph and we had to give it to Derrick Brodus too for the job he did. We've talked about that.
"Injuries, no major injuries came out of the game. Mike Rivera hurt his foot a little bit. He's fine; he will be day to day. We expect (Michael) Palardy to be back this week. Tyler (Bray) will get his cast off today and will get evaluated. What does that mean? First of all, it means how is your strength to squeeze a ball? And it's going to take a little time because it has been kind of locked off there to get the kind of range and motion back. Secondly and more importantly, how has the bone healed? We will X-ray it, evaluate it and then go from there. We don't expect him to play. I never have expected him to play this week, but that is kind of the next step in the process.
"Arkansas, we all know about them. Great quarterback, great offense, a lot of fast single-digit guys running around at receiver and the return game. A top-10 team on the road. I'm just really worried about us and going out there and trying to put together four quarters against a quality SEC team on the road in all three phases. That is really our focus. I'm looking forward to the challenge and we will see if we are improving."
On Arkansas being the greatest challenge this year in terms of pass coverage
"I think that is fair to say. I mean, statistically thinking they are the best throwing team in the league. But when you look, they've got a quarterback that has a real playmaking mentality -- a little bit like Tyler has. They have a lot of speed on the perimeter. They play fast. It's not that they just run fast, they run fast without the ball. They have a real confident swagger to them. Every time a team inches closer to them, they answer the bell. Pow! Pow! Pow! -- touchdown. I've seen it so many games. So, yes, this will be our biggest challenge answering the pass. And it's really hard to stop them. Not many teams have."
On finding out if Tyler Bray will be told today when he can play
"I don't think today; maybe in the next day or two. We have to look at the X-ray, feel his strength levels and if both of those things check out, which the likelihood is they won't, and then we go to a CAT-scan, which I think is the final determining factor. The pain is not the issue; the pain is what he can tolerate. The issue is the bone has to be healed, because we aren't going to put him out there and the bone is almost there but it's not. The bone has to be healed, he has to be able to tolerate the pain and he has to be able to perform. If he can't go out there and throw it like he's used to throwing it, then why play him?"
On the comfort level after seeing Worley perform well
"Well, yeah, he performed the way we hoped he would. We have confidence in Justin. I tell you we had it going into South Carolina. He just had first-game jitters. Now Justin's challenge will be he is on the road, he's playing an SEC team, a top-10 team. It will be a lot more adversity than he faced on Saturday night. But you have to get the first step before you can get the second. We will see how he handles it. He is still a true freshman and he is going to have to go on the road in a tough environment against a good football team."
On expecting Palardy to play even though he was hurt
"Here is what happened. At the end of practice Thursday morning he felt a little something, which a lot of kickers always say that. Some muscle in my somewhere, they feel everything that happens to their body. So I was a little bit concerned, but there was no swelling and it was just a little pain issue and we had a lot of time before kickoff. It was about noon on Thursday and we aren't kicking till 7 on Saturday. Usually that is a lot of time. Then I got a little nervous on Saturday morning when I could tell he wasn't there yet. We had (Chip) Rhome and that is why Brodus looking back we should have dressed him. I thought Mike would be OK and at worst case he could kick field goals and Rhome kick off."
On Rhome's injury situation
"He's hurt. He pulled something, you know. Kickers have muscles we don't know about. They pull this."
On Eric Gordon's place in the defense
"Personnel, I thought how we played them worked out pretty well. We rolled B. (Byron) Moore and Eric at nickel and both did a good job. What Eric does is he can go out there and make some plays for you. Eric's biggest challenge is his dependability and lining up right, knowing what to do and not giving up big plays. We want Eric to play more, but the dependability is the key in that. We will keep rolling them in and see who is hot, Justin (Coleman) and (Marsalis) Teague a little bit at corner. Justin made a few mistakes out there at corner; Teague gave up a pass. So we have to keep getting better play out of them. We rolled the safeties between Prentiss (Waggner), Rod (Wilks), and Brian (Randolph). That is kind of what we are doing right now. Locking them in and trying to get their position down."
On Gordon's attitude about being in and out of the lineup
"He's probably frustrated a little bit, as all players are when they aren't playing as much as they think they should. But like most players, they tend to focus on things that don't involve them instead of focusing on their play, their dependability and their consistency. That's what we talked to Eric about quit worrying about all the other guys back there. Line up right, play your technique right and he will play more."
On Missouri joining the SEC
"We all knew it was coming. I don't really have an opinion on it and if I did it wouldn't matter. I'll worry about that in the spring. It's a great academic institution, it really is. So it's going to really enhance our academic reputation in the league."
On it being a priority to prevent big plays by Arkansas
"The big plays are what really get you against these guys. They make them all different ways. It's not just pushing the ball down the field. They throw a lot of shallow crosses and they catch it and run. If we get a little bit out-leveraged in the back end, we aren't 100-meter guys back there so they will run around us. We have to keep them in front, we have to make sure we tackle when they catch it quickly and get a lot of hats to the ball. They hit you a lot different ways. They hit you on the crossing patterns, they hit you on the seams, and they will do some play action. They have excellent scheme. They have a very good quarterback and excellent receivers. That is why they are putting up what they are."
On success of the nickel package
"I think the last two weeks we have played pretty well against the pass. Now we can't deny that we didn't play the Oakland Raiders of the 70s throwing the ball. That helps too. Neither of those teams were great vertical pass threats. Like I said, you have to start somewhere. We will see where our pass defense is this weekend."
On staying focused on rush defense despite Arkansas' passing game
"Bobby (Petrino) has always done a good job of running the ball and calling a lot of runs. You look at his quarterback attempts. They are the other pro-style offense in our league, so we enjoy watching them. They are like us philosophically, and when you look at his numbers I feel like they are playing their best when he is throwing it around 35-38 times, which is what I have told you guys is where we need to be in a four-quarter game. Not in the 40s and 50s. I can't speak for him, but he does a real good job of making sure you have to defend the run. No. 1, it is too much on a quarterback to throw it that much. And then two, it helps you throwing the ball and generating big plays."
On status of the running game
"I don't know where we're going. Tauren (Poole) is still our running back and we're going to keep working like heck to run the ball better. If we're going to beat Arkansas, we're going to have to run it better. But we'll keep playing those three backs, probably, and see who's running well. Jaron (Toney) did a pretty good job. He was efficient about 60-something percent of the time when he ran the ball."
On the status of Tom Smith
"He's just on the shelf a little bit and we wanted to see Jaron. Tom was struggling early in the year like a lot of freshmen, so we just told him to go catch his breath and Jaron started running well. We probably would have brought Tom back.
"Nobody wows' you, so it becomes hard because you've got four or five guys and they're all doing some good things. So you throw them in the game and you see."
On Poole's recent performances
"That's something you will have to ask him. When he's at his best, he's playing fast and he's not guessing. He's just accelerating. That's when he's at his best. There's no question about that."
On Arkansas' return game
"It's those receivers. They have the best return unit in the league, probably in the country. Very dangerous two punt returns for touchdowns, two kickoffs for touchdowns. That's the other way they are generating points, just when you are feeling good. I think Ole Miss cuts it to three points house call. You can't go to sleep on these guys. Everybody has to play great every play or you're going to get exposed. They do a great job."
On Worley's negatives from Saturday
"There were a couple long balls he had a chance at that he overshot, so we want to be able to hit those. We had about two other ones where Da'Rick got by the guy and it could have been another huge play. And then, of course, still getting some comfort level in the run game and the mike' calls and all that stuff."
On what it takes to hit those long passes
"Just hit the guy. We can analyze it and work on it and we do. He just needs to do it, keep throwing it, figuring out who the receivers are, their speed I think it just comes in time. And then some guys never can hit them. He threw a great one, though, on that touchdown. It was right on the stripe."
On the wildcat formation
"Yeah, we got some positive yards out of it. It was a starting point. We got 7 yards on a power. We didn't get much on our sweeps the way we were hoping, but it helped us a little bit on the power. It was a good start. We'll keep playing with it. It's not going to solve our problems, but I've always liked it.
"I haven't run it here because I haven't had a comfort level of the right guy running it. I think it's a good way to take a few plays off the quarterback. If you don't run your quarterback runs, the zone read stuff, it's just a way to have that component in your offense. And it helps. But it's rarely going to be the difference in winning and losing."
On the offensive line's improvement the last few games
"Yeah, they are close in a lot of areas. There were a couple of mentals; sometimes we just don't get that last finish on the block. We're close but we're not where we need to be, that's for sure."
On who's playing where on the offensive line
"Alex (Bullard) will keep playing better. He didn't have his best game this week, but the snapping part is so important. We're going to probably keep repping James (Stone) at guard. He's still a backup center."
On Marcus Jackson remaining at left guard
"Yeah, but we'll still play James some. We're waiting for whoever's going to take it."
On Brian Randolph at strong safety
"Brian did really well. He's playing better every week, made a couple of big hits and he was in position. He didn't have a lot of opportunity on some plays, but he's doing well. He's going to be a good player.
"We've got a lot of guys who are showing improvement, especially on defense. Mo (Maurice Couch) had another good game, Izauea Lanier is doing well, Byron Moore's coming on, Brian and A.J. (Johnson). It was good to get Curt (Maggitt) back out there. We have about six or seven young players who are progressing the way we need them to, so we've just got to keep going on that track.
"We need our young guys, and our young guys on offense. It was good to see Justin whenever you've got another quarterback play like that, it's encouraging. We need our offensive linemen to keep growing. We need Marlin (Lane) and Devrin (Young). Vincent Dallas had a chance to make a play and didn't make it, but DeAnthony Arnett again made a play and he's playing better.
"That's all I'm worried about. Let's keep getting better, playing faster each week and the results will come."
On integrating Antonio Richardson to more playing time
"We may. Again, it's the dependability issue. That's the biggest thing. He was just so set back and needs a lot of reps. If we can put him in and feel like he can go out there and function he's got a lot of good qualities and brings a lot of energy and spunk. Of course, he's huge. We want to get him in there as quickly as we can, but I don't want to force it. We're repping him a good bit."
On why younger guys don't play
"We have some guys who haven't played. We have three offensive linemen who I think are going to be good, solid offensive linemen for us (Kyler) Kerbyson, (Matt) Crowder and (Alan) Posey. They haven't played this year. Is that it? Christian Harris hasn't played; I think Christian's going to be in the fold. He's going to be a good, solid player. And Geraldo Orta's doing well; he was hurt. So we've got five guys who haven't played and I hope we don't play them to ruin their year, and I feel good about all five of those guys. There have been a couple of guys who we've played and just haven't been able to get the playing time we would like to. Tom's one of them. Antonio's one of them. I think everybody else, though, has been in the mix pretty good."
On Cameron Clear's progress
"Cam had about 30-something snaps. He's another one of those young freshmen, feeling good. We'll probably keep playing him, get him integrated some more. He's big and athletic he's got a lot of good qualities about him, so it's good to see him coming. Brendan (Downs) is hitting that freshman wall a little bit, so it's good Cam's there. Cam hit the freshman wall when he showed up."
On the expectations from Arkansas' defense
"What they do a lot more than anybody we've played and what is going to be hard on our young guys is different fronts, different blitzes, and different coverages. They are dialing it up, and there's no real rhyme or reason a lot of times for it formationally or down-and-distance. Our guys have to do a really good job of playing the plays on principle. That's going to be the biggest challenge."
On Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette
"He's good, and they mix it up. He made a bit impact play for them against South Carolina off the edge. They play really physically tough football on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Some teams have had success on them moving the ball, but they also generate a lot of negative plays and you've got to be able to overcome it."
On playing for the first time this season on artificial turf
"I don't know. Usually, guys who are fast, you go race them in the driveway and they're going to beat you. Then you go out in the mud and they beat you. So it doesn't matter what they run on. If we went to the track, they'd beat us. The turf when you've got a field like we have, I don't think it's as big of a difference. The turf's good when you don't have a lot of money to put into your grounds crew, when you've got those bad fields.
"They used to grow the grass, didn't they? When you played those fast teams, they would grow the grass. Ridiculous. Like that really mattered. They were still faster. They might have run 4.5 instead of 4.4, but your guys were running 5.1 instead of 5-flat, so it didn't matter. It's like, It doesn't slow our team down but it's going to slow them.' I never did understand that. I used to ask, Well what about your team?' It didn't have any effect on our team. It just slows them down.' That's the beauty of coaches. We do some great stuff, we're so smart."
On thoughts of the SEC going to a nine-game conference schedule
"I really don't have any opinion on all that. I haven't had time. Before I give opinions, I want to think about it. And it's just hard.
"The only thing disappointing to me in all this is it's happening in football season, and no coaches have time to put any energy into thinking about it. That's probably why they do it because they don't care what we think anyway, which is fine. That's not our job. Our job is to coach the team and play who they schedule. I know there are a lot of models out there that would be one of them. That's an easy way to preserve the rivalries, I'm sure. Missouri's in the (SEC) East, aren't they? That fits right along with all this stuff."
On the importance of preserving the Tennessee-Alabama rivalry
"All of them are important to me. Y'all know I'm big on tradition, so I'm not looking (to change). Although I wish we didn't have to play some of those teams this year. That wouldn't have been bad to put the rivalries on hold for a couple of years."