2011 ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL QUOTES - January 1, 2011


ARKANSAS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR WILLY ROBINSON

Opening Statement ...
"We really are excited about being here in the city of New Orleans representing the SEC in the Sugar Bowl. It's a once in a lifetime event for us and we hope to have many more. We worked extremely hard. Defensively, it's taken us three years to get to where we are right now. We've had our ups and downs, and I think our success this year - or better success this year - comes from the fact that these kids we're playing with all started for us when they were true freshmen. We still have a young defensive football team and this is a football team that we started when they were youngsters, coming right out high school. They took our lefts and they took our rights, and didn't get knocked out. We got ourselves back off the ground. We have tremendous leadership. We're real excited about the opportunity. We're still trying to figure out when we're going to play this game. It seems like it's been forever [since we last played], so hopefully this time winds down soon so we can get rolling.

"Damario Ambrose is a senior defensive end and he plays multiple positions for us. He can play inside and he can play outside. He does a great job of playing both the run and the pass. Jerry Franklin, for the first time in his career, has played a full season. He's a junior, probably when it's all done and said, that will set the record for us at the University of Arkansas, as far as our leading tackler. He's a tremendous leader. You might not know it when you talk to him. He's a quiet young man. When he gets on the field, everyone listens to this kid and we appreciate his effort. Jerico Nelson, to be honest with you folks, is my pride and joy. He's the guy that's our bell cow. He's a youngster that with all of the levels that I've been with, that I can compare him with a lot of great players that I've been able to coach in the NFL. Don't be taken back by his size; he has a great heart. He has a great football I.Q. He does a tremendous job. If we can get him in the flow real quick, our team will flow off his efforts. Jake Bequette reminds me of a young man that we took as a free agent when we were at Pittsburgh [Steelers], named Aaron Smith. When you look at him, he's going to have all of the size and the dimensions that you look for and his future is very bright. He's an extremely intelligent young man. He's got his degree; he's working on his master's. This kid still has one more year. He represents the University of Arkansas very, very well. And, then one of our young kids that we've kind of grown up with is Tenarius Wright - extremely active, unbelievable burst off the ball, great pass-rush guy. He's learning to play against the run as well. He's tenacious as heck and we're very proud of him as well."

On being with the Saints in 2005 and his experience after Hurricane Katrina ...
"We didn't live here. They moved us out to San Antonio. As an NFL coach, you don't buy a house, you rent. If you do own a house, you're going to have it someplace you retire, maybe. We didn't live here. We were fortunate that we got out of here and they took us to San Antonio. Probably the most important thing that I remember, that I thought was unsung, was that we had home games all over the country. One of our home games was in New York, a lot of our home games were in Baton Rouge. We had home games at San Antonio. And, to this day, I believe this: Jim Haslett should have been the NFL Coach of the Year for what we went through. Just to be in a position that you're looking from the outside in and seeing what was going on here, we couldn't talk to our families. All of the phone lines were knocked down. We had no idea where they were. It was kind of done by smoke and mirrors to find out where they were. Then trying to get our families back to where we were. To be honest with you, we were still the fortunate ones. What this city has done since that time - and I recruited down here - what this city has done for this whole thing that has gone on, this whole fiasco that went on here, for whatever reason, these people have endured. They pulled up their bootstraps and they've gone back to work, and they've made this a great city like it once was."

On Ohio State's offense and breaking down Terrelle Pryor ...
"They have great skilled kids. What the Big Ten has had to overcome, as these games have kind of gone on, is that fact a long time ago - probably five, ten years ago - is all about the fact that they were going up against speed in the SEC when they did play against each other. What they've gone and done, and what Ohio State especially has gone and done, is they've got speed on the field at all of those skill positions. They're big and physical up front. They have two great tailbacks. They do a nice job of making you miss. They're patient. They can get in and out of a hole. Their receivers, they're two-dimensional receivers. They go can catch the ball, they can run by you and then they block the heck out of you down the field. When you talk about the guy that's their leader and the guy that wants the ball in his hand, then it becomes a situation they've got to get a first down to get the win, it's going to be the quarterback - [Terrelle] Pryor. He's not unlike any of the other quarterbacks we've played in the SEC. You go from [Cam] Newton to the Mississippi State kid, to the kid that's at LSU, to the kid that's at Ole Miss, those are all really good athletes that are big athletes that can not only run the football but they can throw it as well. So, we've kind of had some background in it. Our folks probably didn't feel like we've done a good enough job, sometimes, defending those types of guys. The lessons learned? We like to be able to think that we have the ability to match against this kid when he does run the football and then when he gets himself back there in those passing situations, let's make him hurry and get a little impatient back there."

On expectations of Ohio State's offense ...
"I think they will continue to do what has allowed them to go 11-1, and that's mix it up. You load the box and they can hurt you with the passing game, and their play-action pass. You break your box down and they spread you out, and the quarterback and tailback can hurt you as well. They're not going to change much, we wouldn't figure. Obviously, we know we have a size difference, but our kids have faced differences in size in our conference as well. Why change anything? Why change something that's not broken? They're 11-1. This guy has won a lot of games. Their quarterback has been very successful with what they do. We're just kind of anticipating what they've been doing and probably picking out some of the plays that they do best, making sure we've got those taken care of the best we can. As we watch their 12 games, the one thing we know is that we're getting something different. It's not going to be a bunch; it's going to be one thing or two things. But, we'll get something different from them and that keeps you off balance a little bit, so we'll see how fast we can adjust."

On perception that SEC has more speed over Big Ten ...
"I still think that's a misnomer now. I think that Ohio State has really good speed on offense. I haven't watched them on defense as much, but as far as offensive skilled kids, I think they have very good speed. Running back, receiver-wise - they do a great job of transitioning in and out of routes. I think that's no longer the case. I think they've understood where they've had to make their improvements, not just teams themselves, but the conference itself. There's no way you're going to be 11- 1 and not have speed. You're going to have speed somewhere on the field. We're very aware of how fast these kids run. We've done our research on all of these kids by calling around the country and finding out who these guys are because their press guy doesn't give you a whole bunch of things as far as their background and their high schools. We call around; we find out about these guys. A lot of these kids are kids that placed in their state in the 100-meters. It doesn't matter what state you come from, if you place in the state, you're pretty darn fast. We're very aware of one of their tailbacks and he's a guy that can run. We're very aware of the quarterback; we know he can run and he's not a loafer. We call a lot of different coordinators and talk with them. Every one of them says don't be surprised at how fast this guy can really run. I don't think that's an issue. It's going to be an even match for us on defense. I think we have to match up against their speed. Our kids play against some really good football players every day, speed-wise. We're not going to be surprised by anything they do speed and athleticism-wise. It's going to be the power. That's the difference in the conferences - the strength of their offensive line against the strength of our defensive line."

On lessons learned from losses ...
"I think, more than anything else, against [Auburn quarterback Cam] Newton you've got to tackle and know how to tackle a big man. It's not going to take just one to get him down, so you're going to have to get several hats to this guy. When you're dealing with skill out there at that position, we have to make sure we're keeping them contained. You've got to have an edge and then you've got to have a fill, and then you've got to have a chase. We're trying to get several hats to this guy all the time. You're not going to be able to bring him down one-on-one, for the most part, because his arm is two feet long and he'll straight-arm the heck out of you. We've got little guys on defense. That's a detriment to our play, so we have to make sure we get a lot of hats to this cat. The other guy at Mississippi State, he's a big dude too. These quarterbacks are big power forwards, basketball power forwards, that have great athleticism. Now, all of a sudden, they're learning how to throw the ball too? It's a little scary with this type of athlete you have to defend. Usually, you don't have to defend the quarterback; but, I think where the game is going is that you've got to have another guy accounted for."

On first game at Arkansas as defensive coordinator to where he is now ...
"I looked at that first game and my wife came up to me and, when we were practicing one day, she came out and watched us practice and she goes, ‘Willy, my son had bigger guys at the high school he went to.' That was really the shocking thing, the fact that those are all itty bitty kids. They kind of look like those babies that a mom puts on their chest and carries around a little bit. But, they've all grown up. Just to watch them mature. Our strength program, our conditioning program, the fact that each year - when we ended our season - these kids went to work right away; there wasn't anything regimented. They were just goal-set not to get hit anymore. They were goal-set not to be the guy sitting in the corner taking the rights and the lefts. It meant very much to them that they wanted to get better the next year. Last year we played in a bowl game and we don't bring our kids back other than we come back for school and we don't have anything that's regimented for them to do other than to get their school stuff taken care of and get rolling a little bit, get away from football a little bit. The very next day, three-quarters of our football team was in the weight room running and lifting all on their own. It wasn't anything that was mandated, it wasn't anything other than our leadership stepping forward and saying enough is enough. For us defense, we've had to hold the rope. We didn't do a very good job of that a year ago. This year, kind of what we do, our motto is to hold the rope. What that means is that when one side of the ball is struggling a little bit - you hold on to that rope so they don't fall apart or they don't fall over the cliff. We've kind of taken that mentality. When you look back on our season this year, we've held the rope in a lot of our games. Our one miscue was an away game at Auburn and we wish we would have had one to do over again. But, if wishes were fishes the world wouldn't be hungry. That's where you learn and you continue to go to work each day. That's exactly what our kids did. They came back the very next week. They did well on the pass, they couldn't control anymore and they went to work and rolled their shirt sleeves up and went to work. I don't know if we would have done that two years ago; I don't know if they would have done that three years ago. That's the maturity of this football team and the fact that they've grown up together, they've become extremely close. Not just by going out and being with each other but working in the weight room, working in the conditioning aspect of it. Each one of them realized that one time or the other, you got hit in the mouth pretty good, how are you going to respond? They've held each other accountable pretty good."

DEFENSIVE END - DAMARIO AMBROSE

On containing Terrelle Pryor and their defensive game plan ...
"We have played some great quarterbacks in the SEC. There is talk of running quarterbacks who are really good in the SEC that we have already played. Our game plan, this week, Coach [Steve] Caldwell has been really focused on trying to make sure we contain them and rush to his up-field shoulder, so he can't get outside the pocket. Because that is where he makes plays; when he starts running outside the pocket, juking people and throwing the ball down field. He can throw the ball essentially well. We need to make sure we are always in our gaps on the field, so we make sure we contain him."

On what stands out to him when thinking of Terrelle Pryor ...
"I think how fast he really is because sometimes he will be running beside a DB (defensive back) and it doesn't look like he is running fast. All of a sudden you see him just pull away. He is pretty fast, which is probably one of the most impressing things about him. Also, he is a better passer than a lot of people give him credit for because he can throw the ball down field and throws it well when he starts doing play action passes. He is a great quarterback and we have a great challenge ahead of us."

On [Terrelle] Pryor and how he reminds him of Cam Newton ...
"Yes, they are actually about the same size; maybe, Cam [Newton] might be a little bit bigger. But, they are basically like the same type of quarterback with the same type of arm. They are kind of like clones; it's kind of weird."

On what they learned from the Auburn game and applying it to the game on Tuesday against Ohio State ...
"We have been practicing against some of the plays that Auburn ran. Of course, our coaches have emphasized it. Potentially, this could be one of Terrelle Pryor's last games [at Ohio State], so he might run the ball a little more this game. You never know. We have been preparing by going against the offense that Auburn ran and different things. We are prepared for it."

On being part of the first Arkansas team to make it to a BCS game ...
"This means a lot to us. When I was a freshman, I came in with guys like Jerry Franklin, Jake Bequette, and D.J. Williams. All of these guys came into my class and it is really exciting for us because we know that we came in, made a change, and we got there as a group. We all got there and accomplished something that hasn't been accomplished here - I don't think ever - we have never gotten to a BCS bowl. It means a lot to us that we can bring this to Arkansas and make a change. And, hopefully, we can build on this for the future."

On the two major changes that have occurred since he has been at Arkansas: changing head coaches and the transfer of multiple players ...
"It is great now because we know what we need to accomplish and what we need to focus on. We know because, in some of those years, we didn't know who would be coaching who, what plays we might run, and we had no clue what we were doing out there. But, now we know who is going to be there and what they are doing. It is more organized now."

DEFENSIVE END - JAKE BEQUETTE

On comparing Cam Newton to Terrelle Pryor ...
"They are both big, athletic, dual-threat quarterbacks. They are both very good players and the catalysts for their offenses. Obviously, they are two different players on two different teams. They run different schemes, so we have to keep them separate."

On Arkansas' inexperience in BCS Bowl games and the build up for the 2011 Sugar Bowl ...
"It's been fun. We haven't been in a bowl like this in quite a long time. It's great for the University and great for the fans. It's great for everyone involved in the program. We have been practicing really hard, sticking to our regiment, our routine. It is business as usual for us."

On his family history playing at the University of Arkansas ...
"My dad played in the last Sugar Bowl that Arkansas played in. They didn't have a great result, but he said it was a great experience and that he had a great time in New Orleans and playing in the Superdome. It was a great thing for him, except for the outcome. It's been a lot of fun down here for me and I can't wait for my family to get down here to share some experiences with them."

On being another family member to "join the club" by playing in a Bowl Game ...
"It is always great to play in a big game. Like Coach Petrino told us, every game you win, the next one is bigger. This is the ultimate game of our season. It feels great to be in BCS game and to play a great opponent in Ohio State. I guess I am in the club now."

On looking back on his freshman year and the turn-around of Arkansas football ...
"I saw it coming. I don't think a lot of people did. In 2008, we didn't play well on either side of the ball and it's frustrating. Any time you have a coaching change and a new philosophy comes in, especially one like Coach Petrino's, there is some resistance and some people are really on board. We are all moving in the right direction now and the results speak for themselves. We are in New Orleans."

On Ohio State's nine losses to SEC teams...
"They played nine good teams and we are looking to be number ten."

LINEBACKER - JERRY FRANKLIN

On facing a running quarterback like Terrelle Pryor ...
"As far as size goes, [Ohio State quarterback] Terrelle Pryor really reminds you of [Auburn University quarterback] Cam Newton. Their running ability, with the ability to throw the ball as well as they do, as you watch the games they have a lot of similarities. When they do decide to take off and run the ball, they can make a big play. Going through the whole season, we've been facing those kinds of dual-threat quarterbacks, who can either beat you with their legs or go downfield and beat you with their arms. So, it makes us feel a little bit more comfortable having seen that all season long."

Is the defense ‘forgotten' amidst Arkansas' explosive offense ...
"We don't feel that way at all. We have this thing where we feel we're ‘holding the rope' for each other. On some days, in some games, [the offense] might not have a good game and the defense has to hold the rope for them. And, the same thing goes for the defense - some days we might not have a good game and the offense has to hold the rope for us."

On how Arkansas has gained size and athleticism ...
"It seems like we were just a bunch of youngsters - freshmen, redshirt freshmen, sophomores, that put in a lot of time and work in the weight room and now it's starting to show. There's just a huge difference in the way we were when we were freshmen. It's definitely been a whole team thing, from the coaches, to the players working on each other, trying to make each other better, in all aspects, in strength, in film study, everything."

On the stakes for Arkansas, playing in its first BCS game, against OSU, who has never beaten the SEC in a bowl game ...
"I think this is definitely a big time situation. It's our first time to being in a BCS game and, you might say, we're the new kids on the block to this whole BCS [atmosphere]. Ohio State's been in a bunch of these BCS games before. So, that says a lot about them."

On Arkansas' defensive success getting to the quarterback ...
"It all starts at our defensive line. They do a great job at getting pass pressure and our ends, tackles just do a great job at getting pass rush, regardless of whether it's a blitz called on that particular play."

Is the Big Ten not as athletic or fast as the SEC ...
"From what I've seen of them in film, you can see they've got speed on the field. There might be a misconception there that the Big Ten is slow. They're [fast] and athletic."

DEFENSIVE BACK - JERICO NELSON

On being back in New Orleans ...
"It feels great. It's my first time back home in a long time, being able to play in front of my town."

On the season that he has had ...
"Going into the season, my main thing, as well as Coach Patrino's, was to play in a bowl game. I think we did very well this year. I think I came out there, physical, and held my own out there."

On Ohio State's offense ...
"They're a big physical team. They like to come out and run the ball. [Terrelle]Pryor is a great athlete. He's the type of guy that, if you give him space, he can run it; but also, he looks to throw the ball all at once, so you have to make sure you're on all the receivers. The running backs are big and physical, so we have to do a great job tackling them. The receiving corps is great at blocking, so we have to make sure that we're more physical."

On seeing a difference between Big Ten and SEC football ...
"The big difference I've seen is that their offensive line is bigger and taller, and they like to get head on head. They're physical off the line and it's going to be a big battle playing physical with them. "

On what it meant to him and the program to beat LSU, and knowing that they would be going on to the Sugar Bowl ...
"It meant a lot. It's my first BCS bowl and it just happened to be the Sugar Bowl. I grew up here and I know the area. For Arkansas, it's our first [BCS] bowl as team, so we hope to come out and finish strong."

On the Arkansas season and their 11-win season ...
"It means a lot. This team will go down in Arkansas history to be the first team to go to the Sugar Bowl, since we've been in the SEC. That would be a great honor. Just to come out and win, that would be an even greater honor. So, we have to keep on working up until the game."

DEFENSIVE END - TENARIUS WRIGHT

On what he expects to see on the field...
"They're able to do a lot of things. They are able to line up and run the ball when they want to; play action pass. Terrelle Pryor does leave the pocket a lot to make big plays down the field, so they are able to do a lot."

On game film watched in preparation for Sugar Bowl ...
"I watched all the Big 10 game film and I'm able to pretty much sum up what they do well."

On the football ability of Terrelle Pryor ...
"He is a dynamic player. He does have a lot of speed and he'll take off and run down the field for a touchdown. As a passer, he has pretty good accuracy. Once they get the run established, the pass does open up a lot for them. But, he does the work with his feet. I think, once you look in the backfield to see if he's trying to run the ball, you'll take your eyes off the receiver and that leaves him wide open. That's when he makes big plays."

On what he's keyed in on while reviewing film ...
"Depth and just how far the offensive line sets back when they set up the pass; also, how they handle speed, how they handle power and how they handle pass rush games. They have experienced a lot of that during the season, but I think we'll be coming a little bit more different than what they've seen in the past."

On how the speed of the Arkansas defense factors into the game ...
"It's going to be a big factor. We're going to come fast and physical and we're going to try to dominate this game the best way we can."

On the difference(s) between Auburn University quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and Terrelle Pryor ...
"They run two different styles offense. Cam Newton in one type of player that we've seen, all during the season, take over a game. Terrelle Pryor, I'm not saying that he couldn't do it, but he hasn't done it like Cam Newton."

On playing against Ohio State's offensive line ...
"Playing in the SEC, we go against offensive linemen bigger, faster and stronger than us all the time, so height and size is not a factor when it comes to our defensive line."

On what concerns him the most about the Ohio State offense ...
"They are an offense that will tell you they're going to run the ball and they try their best to pound and pound it down the field. It's up to the defense to wrap up and stand up and make a stop, so the [Arkansas] offense can get back on the field. That's what we gotta do."

On the challenge of going against the Buckeyes ...
"We'll be ready for it. I can't say that what's happened in the past [in other games] is going to happen on Tuesday night, but we will show up ready to play."

On the key to slowing down the Buckeyes run game ...
"Tackling."

On message Defensive Coordinator Willy Robinson has sent to the unit ...
"The only message is, don't forget what you came through to get here and keep working hard."