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January 1, 2008

Will Herring

Peyton Hillis

Felix Jones

Darren McFadden


THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with Coach Herring. We'll let him make an opening comment or two and then we'll take questions from the floor.
Coach, your thoughts on the game.
COACH HERRING: Obviously, Missouri played extremely well today and we probably did about everything we could do to help them. Not taking anything away from them; they played hard. I thought they executed what they do.
I just -- to be honest with you, I'm a little bit blindsided by the way we played. Our preparation, I thought, would result in better things during the game.
You know, there's no excuses to be made. You know, this is a proud program. We had the people in place to play well, and we didn't get it done.
Kicking game, made some mistakes that really hurt us. And we didn't tackle well on defense, and offensively stumbled all day long.
That's it.

Q. How difficult is it to play from behind, especially with a team of the caliber of this one?
COACH HERRING: Well, I think it's difficult to play any game. You know, like I said, you know, when you fumble punts, when you squib kick the ball down the field and you hit the frontline guy, give them field position second half, you know, and we had a fake punt earlier I thought was a huge momentum change in the game.
We're going down on our first drive. We got the fake punt set up. We're going to get the first down. Who knows what happens there. We thought we saw something there that made us not want to do it, so we ended up calling timeout in the middle of the play which, you know, refuted that. So we're sitting there stumbling along at that time.
Look, that's not Arkansas football, what you saw today. And Missouri's a good football team. That's where I want everybody to understand that, you know, as an interim football coach we had this thing going, and I just expected to play better. Missouri's a good team, but we're not that bad is what I'm trying to say.
Hat's off to them. But the way we played today we couldn't have beat anybody.

Q. You used a lot of the dollar package. Can you talk about how their running game, did it leave smaller guys trying to tackle Temple? Who did call the timeout on the fake punt?
COACH HERRING: That's useless information right now. It wasn't me (smiling). I'm thinking of a Dr. Seuss poem right now, It was Who. Who was Mr. Who? It was Who. Who's on third?
I don't think that's important right now. To be honest with you, I don't think that had anything to do with the overall play of us all day long. At that point in time, the wind's in our face. It wouldn't have mattered.
We would have kicked a punt hopefully about 20 yards and downed it. So really that could have been a big factor early on, but I don't think that was a major factor in the game.

Q. Dollar package.
COACH HERRING: Well, they did a good job of running the ball today; we didn't. I don't think we played with the spirit and tenacity we normally do. We can play the run a lot better. They just got after us and we didn't respond. So when any team does that like they did, you know, hat's off to them, because that's where it all starts.
I don't know how much yards they had passing. They didn't need to throw the ball. But looks like they had 400 and something yards, which is never a good day on defense. 300 and something rushing, so that will tell you right there. You can't win a football game and give up 300 and something yards rushing.
The dollar package was in there early, and then as it went on we got out and went to a four-man front. At the end of the day, the first half, you know, we made some adjustments, but some of those long runs are just inexcusable. We haven't given them up all year. We've given up long passes, but we haven't given up long runs all year. We just didn't play well defensively.

Q. You mentioned this as far as the squib kick to start the second half. What was the plan there? What were you guys trying to do?
COACH HERRING: Squib is down to about the 20. That's the way the thing went. Then after that obviously we kicked it deep.
But our kicker in pregame wasn't kicking the ball very well. We were concerned about him, as well as Maclin, No. 9. So the plan was to squib. When you call a squib, squib is to squib it deep, not to hit the frontline player and get the ball at midfield.
That was a huge mistake as far as field position starting the second half, as well as the punt, the decision to go field the punt. We gave away some gifts there in the second half.
Like I said, when you do those things you don't have much of a chance, not against a quality team like Missouri.

Q. What do you attribute the defensive play to, especially the missed tackles?
COACH HERRING: Yeah, the missed tackles, to be honest with you, I don't know where that came from. We really -- we were not crisp tacklers. We were not very aggressive. We just weren't ourselves. I don't know.
I guess I have to take the blame because, you know, I'm defensive coach. We just didn't. For some reason, we weren't on snuff as far as tackling and whatnot. You know, it was a bad game overall.
I don't think this is a game you can sit and overanalyze. We did about everything poor you could do in a football game. That's a reflection on us as coaches. I'm really embarrassed right now, but there will be another day for this program and all of us.

Q. After the timeout on the fake punt you still went for the fake punt. Why?
COACH HERRING: Well, because at that point in time we felt like we had it. We knew they were going to be set up. They talk about the stop it, so we went with a counter fake. In other words, if you notice, we faked the reverse and tried to run the trap back the other way. They did a good job defending it.
Because there's a fine line between kicking a punt 20 yards and having it die on you. I didn't feel like that field position was a major ordeal. I still don't think it was.
You know, the ball was, what, on the 35 yard line or so? You know, in that area, that really was the deal where we probably either should have gone for it into the wind or you punt it or you fake it. We faked it. It worked. We came back. We said, They're going to adjust to a fake punt. Let's go run the same fake but go back the other way.
We needed about five yards. It was early in the game. It was trying to create something, and it didn't work out.

Q. Coach, Matt hurt at all?
COACH HERRING: Matt didn't seem to be himself. I'm not really sure as far as Matt, how much he played and how much he didn't. I know that he didn't move around very well in pregame and look himself.
So there might have been a concern by a coach thinking that he shouldn't play as much. You'll have to get with one of our secondary coaches on that.
THE MODERATOR: Some of the players have arrived. You can certainly ask questions to the players.

Q. Darren, was the 1-2 there on the team, it looked like Missouri wanted it more. Also were you surprised by Temple?
DARREN McFADDEN: They did a great job. They came out there working hard. They wanted it more than us, like you said. We didn't get our 1-2 going. We got to give them full credit. They were prepared to play.

Q. How about watching Temple?
DARREN McFADDEN: Sitting there watching a runningback do that against you, you know, it's just a hard thing to watch. You got to give him full credit. He came ready to play. He did a heck of a job running the ball today.

Q. Reggie, you talked about you guys didn't tackle well. Did you have any impression of Temple himself?
COACH HERRING: Yeah, he's a good back. He did a good job. We faced a lot of good backs all year. We faced against this guy every day.
When you tackle that poor it's a bad day defensively, and that's why you give up the running game so much. You know, Temple is a great back. He did a good job. We tackled poorly.
Let me just say this: I'm not used to seeing our defenders dive at ankles. Okay? And I saw a lot of guys diving at ankles today, for whatever reason. We just didn't tackle well. We didn't come to play. It's as simple as that.

Q. Darren, is this your last football game at Arkansas?
DARREN McFADDEN: That's something I'm going to sit down with my parents and decide here in a little while.

Q. Darren, three great years in the red and white. Talk about ending it this way. Probably not the way you wanted to obviously.
DARREN McFADDEN: You know, we had a bad game. You don't want to lose a Bowl game. The only time you have fun in a Bowl game is when you win. It's something, you don't want to lose a Bowl game.

Q. Reggie, this may address diving at ankles. It looked like a lot of Temple's yardage, he had a lot of yardage before he met any resistance.
COACH HERRING: He was running on air, guys. The guy's running on air. They blocked us. We didn't get all blocks. It was a bad day defensively. We never played the run that poorly. We're trying to give credit to Missouri. We give all the credit to them.
Temple is a great back. They ran for 300 and something yards. We played under our standard defensively. Regardless of who we're playing today, I think the way we didn't pursue the football and get all blocks -- I mean, half his runs were on air.
That's the most disappointing thing, is we've got some team speed. They whooped us and we didn't respond.

Q. Reggie, Darren seemed to have a couple runs of more than 10 yards but never seemed to get going. Could you comment on what Missouri did to bottle up Darren. In the second of half, there were about five turnovers there in the third and fourth quarters. Talk about what offensively went wrong specifically in the second half.
COACH HERRING: Well, number one, we don't practice turnovers. So turnovers, you got to play the game to find out -- there's got to be a story played out before you know who's turned over the ball and why.
I don't know, Darren, were they knocking the ball loose? There were a lot of physical hits out there. We didn't secure the football. As far as guys -- Missouri I thought did a good job swarming the football. I thought they played extremely physical and hard on defense. Usually when you do that that makes for a good, solid day.
As far as turnovers go, you know, it's a fine line between being reckless with the ball and having people just being aggressive knocking the ball loose. I thought for the most part the times when we did fumble the ball, that Missouri -- it was us not securing it, but it was Missouri being very physical on defense. That's what I saw.

Q. Can you comment on Darren's game today?
COACH HERRING: I don't know about Darren's game today, but Darren McFadden is a great football player and a great competitor. He's done a lot for this program. You know, regardless of what Darren did today, he's a class act. He's a great individual.
And in my book, he'll be probably the greatest runningback, unless somebody comes along in the near future, that's ever donned a Razorback jersey. That's what I think of Darren McFadden today.
He's had his moments. People gained and got on him, but I don't ever question Darren McFadden. I don't think any Razorback would.

Q. What was the deal with the all-red uniforms today? How did you think that worked for you?
COACH HERRING: Well, let me ask you this: If we'd have wore all purple, would that have mattered? I tell you why we wore all red. We wore it in honor of Coach Broyles. We wanted to do something significant for this game for him. He demands and deserves all your respect is what I say. That's why we wore all red, for Coach Broyles. Period.

Q. Felix and then Peyton, talk about the game, what you thought happened out there. Couldn't get it offensively going.
FELIX JONES: Well, I mean, it took some time. Missouri had a good defense. We just couldn't move the ball like we wanted.
But can't say too much about the game. I mean, we played our hardest. We played like we wanted to, but we just didn't pull it out.
PEYTON HILLIS: You know, pretty much you have to say that we were just not on cue today. I mean, we went out there, we had the right mentality, but seems like we couldn't get anything right. We'd have a good play or two and we'll mess up the off-side penalty or some other.
But, you know, I just don't think we were on cue today. We came out and played hard. You have to give it up for Missouri's defense. They did a heck of a job.

Q. Peyton and Felix, talk about how frustrating it was, Arkansas would get a big play, either you would fumble it or screen play, a catch, fumble it. How frustrating was it?
FELIX JONES: Well, it was very frustrating. I mean, when we do get a big play and things like that, it just didn't work our way. But, I mean, we just kept fighting. We didn't give up. That's what it was all about.
PEYTON HILLIS: You know, like Felix said, it was very frustrating, you know, to move the ball, you know, 20, 30 yards down the field, then cough it up like that, especially during clutch situations towards the end of the game. We had our chances to come back and take the lead, and we didn't do it.
You know, that falls on us seniors and us as a team. You know, we just didn't come up with it in the clutch like we should have.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Congratulations on a great season and best of luck for the new year. Coach, we appreciate it very much.

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