Nutt believes Arkansas can score on Florida; would be a first
LITTLE ROCK -- Arkansas coach Houston Nutt believes that if everyone on his team executes as they should against Florida, the Razorbacks should be able to put up quite a few points.
If they do, it would be a first. But Nutt think's it's possible.
"It takes 11, it takes all of us to execute each play," he said. "If you execute ... we feel like we're going to put points on the board."
Since joining the Southeastern Conference, Arkansas has scored just 17 points in three meetings with the Gators, and Florida is the only SEC team the Razorbacks haven't defeated in a conference game.
So, why is Florida concerned?
This year's Arkansas team looks more like an SEC team than the Razorbacks who stumbled through the mid-1990s. The Razorbacks are ranked 11th, lead the SEC in rushing and have the league's top running back, Cedric Cobbs.
"To me, it looks like he has a lot of power," Florida defensive end Darrell Lee said. "He has good speed, but he is real hard to tackle. I think that's one of his best attributes.
"He's real shifty, has good power and the speed to break away," Lee said.
Cobbs is averaging 128 yards per game. Auburn limited him to 78 yards in a 10-3 victory last week, but Cobbs would have had his fifth-straight 100-yard game if a holding penalty hadn't wiped out a 68-yard run.
"You want to go against great players," said linebacker Channing Crowder, a true freshman. "If you think you are good, you want to play good players and see how you match up."
Arkansas (4-1, 1-1 SEC) also has a quarterback just dangerous enough to give Florida trouble. If Matt Jones is on -- he wasn't last week against Auburn -- the Gators will have to do more than stack the line of scrimmage.
"You obviously have to keep guys around him. He is deceivingly fast," said Florida coach Ron Zook.
It won't be anything Nutt hasn't seen before.
"A lot of people play us the same way by overpopulating the formation," Nutt said. "Most teams play it the same, trying to put one more in the box than you can block.
"We've got to keep improving in the passing game," Nutt said.
The last two times Florida played Arkansas, the Gators were ranked No. 1 each time. Florida won 42-7 at Fayetteville in 1996 and 56-7 at Gainesville and 1997. In the 1995 SEC title game, Florida won 30-3 while ranked second in the nation.
In the 1997 game, the Razorbacks were held to minus-56 yards rushing, still the worst rushing effort ever by Arkansas. Arkansas that year averaged less than 57 yards per game on the ground and had only seven touchdowns rushing.
This year's Arkansas team already has 14 TDs rushing and is averaging 233 yards per game.
Florida (4-3, 2-2) has mixed seniors and true freshmen well. The Gators start one freshman at quarterback, while another, Channing Crowder, returned at linebacker against LSU after arthroscopic surgery on a knee.
"Their quarterback is very athletic," Nutt said. "In last week's game at LSU, he was very comfortable, and defensively, when you stop a team like LSU, you've done something because they're so physical."
Chris Leak led the Gators to a 19-7 victory at then-No. 6 LSU last week, using short, quick passes to compensate for a Tiger rush that sacked him six times.
Arkansas has only four sacks in five games, so Leak might have a chance to practice patience in the passing game.
"As he gets more and more confident, we will try and put him in more situations tht he feels comfortable with," Zook said.
Trying to take pressure off Leak is running back Ciatrick Fason, who had 92 yards rushing on seven carries against LSU and a 35-yard reception for a touchdown.
"We have four backs that can play," center Mike Degory said. "We feel comfortable with all of them as an offensive line. This was just Ciatrick's game. He falls forward, brings a pop, and has good vision. I like those sort of things."
Still, Florida averaged just over two yards per carry against the Tigers after losing 56 yards on sacks.
Florida's defense held LSU without an offensive touchdown, just as Auburn did against Arkansas last week.
"Our defense has got a great challenge in stopping the run." Zook said. "They have a very mature, senior-oriented offensive line. They play as well as anybody in the league."
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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