Countdown to Kickoff
Coach Mike Shula's Arkansas Game Week Press Conference Transcript


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"We obviously have a huge week of preparation ahead of us as we get into the Arkansas game, our first SEC game at home.  We know what kind of team Arkansas has. They are definitely the most talented team that we've faced so far this year. They're as big of an offense that we've faced up front and probably as fast and quick as a defense that we've faced so far this year.

"Our players, hopefully we can build on some of the good things that we did last week, but this week is going to be about getting ourselves ready to improve ourselves all over again. It's going to be a difficult task obviously as we get into the game. It's an early start for us so we've got to make sure we get our players prepared. And as coaches we've got to make sure we get everything going so our players can get off to a good start for an early game."

Mike, I know it's a good problem to have but how do you walk that line between confidence and overconfidence?
"There's no reason for us ever to be overconfident. We've got a bunch of young players, first of all, that are playing. We've won a couple of games this year. This team here, this is our biggest game. This is the biggest game we've coached in, this is the biggest game we'll play in. As a coach you want to praise your players when they do well and help them in their confidence that we, but you also want to make sure you have your best week of practice to give yourself the best chance to win the game on Saturday. So as coaches we have to cover every detail. We can't let any mistake go unnoticed. We've got to be really, really focused."

Mike, if this is the best team you've faced, then what would Southern Cal have done to South Carolina or Middle Tennessee State?
"I said the other day they look like a pro team. I think you've almost got to look at that game and almost throw it out. Southern Cal---I haven't watched much college football other than our own and the teams we're playing, but they look great. Big, fast, strong. And that's their second and third team."

Coach, you've answered my question because I was going to ask you exactly that: what can you take out of that game. Is there anything, probably maybe some detail, some technique or something, but what can you get out of the game from watching it?
"You look at scheme-wise in all three phases: how they did things, especially early in the game, compared to how they did them in their first two games. We look at that. Like you do each and every week you look at personnel, you look at how certain guys react, their quickness, their speed, all those types of things that you would. Toward the end of the game in a game like that you might not pay as much attention to that. But we know what Arkansas has. We've played them the last two years. We know what kind of talent they are. We know what kind of coaching they have. They're great motivators, their staff. They've fallen short the last two weeks and they're going to be more motivated now than they ever have. But we have got to be motivated. We have got to have our best week of practice, be more focused than we've ever been just because that's what it's going to take to beat this football team."

Mike, you had two defensive linemen who were out last Saturday and what are their chances of coming back? How important is it to have a number of guys to play against a big offensive line?
"It's extremely important and we're still not sure on Justin Britt and Dominic Lee. Justin has practiced. He practiced a little bit, worked a little bit Sunday night and hopefully we'll get him in there a little bit today. He's still going to be questionable. Dominic Lee, not sure he'll practice today. But we're going to need those guys. If not, then we're going to have to have some other guys ready. We had Lorenzo Washington make the trip last week for us. But, like you said, with a group that we're facing, the size of the offensive line and then their philosophy--the way they like to run the ball--it's going to be important to have every defensive lineman healthy."

Coach, with a team like Arkansas, their backs up against the wall so to speak, do you go into this game expecting the unexpected maybe more than you would if they weren't 0-3 and hadn't just given up 70 points?
"I don't think so. No. I kind of feel like our backs are always up against the wall, too. I think you have to have that approach each and every week as a coach. And your team does just to stress the importance of each and every game, each and every play, each and every quarter, each and every drive. We've got to be prepared in all three phases. As far as things that we may not have seen earlier, I think you come to expect that when you face Arkansas and Coach Nutt because they do a lot of different things and he's not afraid to go out on a limb and call things maybe where other coaches wouldn't."