The Arkansas Razorbacks under Coach Chad Morris has had more downs than ups. Many will give the excuse all the way back to when Bobby Petrino left Arkansas and AD at the time, Jeff Long, turned the team over to John L. Smith. Others will say that Bret Beliema did not recruit fast enough players to make the Hogs a competitive team. In the end, when a coach takes over a team at any point in a season or after a season, it is time to go to work. Before anyone think that this is just going to be a Coach-bashing article, it is not…I had faith in Morris and his staff all year. The recruiting is there and per out coaches, the talent is in the locker room. We have seen good moments against Kentucky and Texas A&M this year already. The talent is on the field and just needs time to grow and mature. Now let’s give Coach Chad Morris and his staff some props on getting recruits to come to Arkansas and be a Hog, even through the tough season, he is still getting good recruits to come to Fayetteville. The recruiting class does not lie, this staff can recruit good players, yes, but there is also a common attribute along with recruiting and it is playing their recruits and winning football games. In the end, a football team reflects the Head Coach and the staff that is around him. If the Coach is not in it to win it, the team cannot be in it to win it.
Chad Morris was 4-18 as the Head Hog at the University of Arkansas and 0-14 in the SEC. Arkansas fans want better and overall the Hog fans DESERVE better than what they have had to deal with. Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium is a beautiful place in Northwest Arkansas with major stadium upgrades and some of the best facilities in college football. Coach Morris brought in Offensive Coordinator Joe Craddock and Defensive Coordinator John Chavis, all in their second season in Fayetteville. Not suggesting anything maybe the coaches under Morris were not up to this task ahead of them. Arkansas has not really been a good football team for years, so we thank you Coach Morris for coming to Arkansas and giving it a shot to rebuild this program to the team the Hog Fans Deserve to have.
Even though this coaching staff could recruit, there are still many issues that have come to light over the past two years. When you have a football team, there needs to be at least 15-18 scholarship Offensive Lineman. For two years now, there have been an O-Line shuffle and the ones that have been playing have not been getting the job done. When you look at an LSU or Alabama team, there are the starting five each week unless there is someone injured or suspended. When you look at Arkansas, there has been a shuffling game going on each week wondering who will start where and will they be able to perform. You cannot win in college football, especially the SEC West, unless you have good O-Lineman and they learn to play together. How can you recruit someone to come to your team if you cannot protect them during the game?
When you think of a college football team each week a team will know who is going to be under center for their team. It has been 2 years now that it has been a topic for articles, tv, and radio of who is going to start at QB for the Hogs. When you think of the top teams in College Football Playoffs everyone knows who is going to be under center for that team. LSU has Burrow, Alabama has Tua, and Georgia has From. Arkansas has had Ty Storey, Cole Kelly, Connor Noland, Ben Hicks, Nick Starkel, John Stephen Jones, and KJ Jefferson (who hasn’t started but has seen playing time). That is just too many different names to try to lead a team. It cannot be a question each week of who is going to lead your team. Football has Captains that carry a “C” on their chest and that needs to be earned. A quarterback in the leader of your team and the team Captain. That cannot be chosen week by week.
Coach John Chavis has an excellent record overall as a defensive coordinator, but since he has been at Arkansas the defense has been the laughing stock of college football. Too many busted coverages and too many broken plays have lead to score for the opposing teams. Over the years many Hog fans thought that they secondary needed to be more bump and run coverage instead of playing back in the zone. One of the main problems has been recruiting defensive speed. We have some of the best overall players when you look at recruits, but the Linebacking core has been slow and there has not been enough of them. Like the offense the defense need to have depth. If someone gets hurt it is, “next man up.” In Arkansas’ case there has not been a next man for the linebacker core or secondary. The defense is spending way too much time on the field and are getting exhausted throughout the game. Without depth there cannot be any kind of defensive stops or turnovers caused based on exhaustion. When your tired your brain cannot comprehend things as quick as when you can get breaks. Brooks Ellis for example was a great linebacker as well as Dre Greenlaw, who is in the NFL, but when your tired you cannot think as quick as you can when you have depth to take breaks. Also, the DC need to be in the box or on the field, not back and forth. If you cannot control you defense in one place changing where you are on the field doesn’t change anything, you still seeing the same fate.
No matter what happens in a game whether its football, basketball, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, hockey, or any other sport play calling is a major factor. There comes to a time where it is okay to just choose to try something new, but in the end, you need to execute. One of the problems with the Arkansas offense if play calling. Us as fans do not know if it is a Head Coach or OC choosing to not try to convert a first down on third and short by running, the choice has been to pass. If something is not going right on your offense things need to change. Not saying that you need to change players, but the scheme may need to be different. To play football the play calls need to be sent to the offense quickly and efficiently, no need to ever get a delay of game when there is a play clock in front of the offense and after practicing all week. On occasion a young player could make a mistake and forget to look that is okay. Repeatedly the same issues cannot keep happening. You must stay with your strength as a team and the strength needs to be known by the whole team, coaches, and probably he fans as well. Many fans know the strength of the Arkansas offense is Boyd running the ball with play action to your young wide receivers, but this year it has been a question mark on why some things have been called. Everyone in that locker room need to be on the same page and by the play on the field they are not on the same page throughout the games being played.
Anyone can understand the fact of having 53 Freshman on your team that you are a young team and will not be as good as you will be. Using a player for a maximum of 3-5 plays for a game and that is it should never happen. NCAA rules now allow freshman to play 4 games without using a year of eligibility. Why in the world would you put a freshman in for a kickoff coverage and that’s it? That is not effectively using a player in his young career. When you are 2-6 with just 4 games left in the season is where you put in the freshman that gave you a good recruiting class. This is the point where you at least show the fans what is coming to give a little bit of faith in the coaching staff and the players. If your offense is too difficult for someone to understand 8 weeks into the season maybe the offense need to be simplified a little more. This is year 2 of the same excuse that the quarterbacks that fans are yelling for doesn’t understand the offense enough to play. There are two real reasons for this being an issue, either the coaching staff is not teaching the offense correctly or the players are not studying the playbook as they should. Either way it is unacceptable for college football.
Football Sports Writer for Natural State Sports
Co-Host of Thursday night live show “The Sports Junkies” along side Steve Hinson