Chad Morris once inherited an SMU team in 2015 that went 1-11 the season prior to his arrival.
This time around, the Arkansas Razorbacks‘ first-year head coach receives a team coming off a somewhat equally underwhelming 4-8 season (1-7 in the SEC).
But Morris definitely knows what it takes to give a slumping football program a good restart. In his third and final season at SMU, he turned them into a 7-5 team in 2017.
That, and a stint as Clemson‘s offensive coordinator from 2011-2014, was all Morris needed to land his first head-coaching job in the SEC.
"KNOW the footprint." pic.twitter.com/Kx5iKpgOoe
— Razorback Football (@RazorbackFB) July 17, 2018
Expectations for 2018
Despite their poor record in 2017, the Arkansas football program indeed continues to be a proud one.
Last year’s players felt the pressure of not producing. At the SEC Media Day, Morris spoke about how he will help this team bounce back from last year’s disappointments.
“And I’ve said it before and 4-8 is not acceptable. It’s not acceptable whoever coach is regardless of that,” Morris said. “They’ve had to have that bitter taste in their mouth. It’s something that they’ve worked extremely hard about.”
Arkansas has plenty of talented players on offense, but they were mired by ineffective quarterback play for the majority of last season. When asked about his quarterback battle, Morris admitted that he hasn’t arrived at a final decision for his team’s quarterback scenario.
“‘I’ve met with several of them. We’ve met with all of them, but I know that we’re going to have a great competition going on which is healthy, Morris said. “It’s healthy at all positions. And I’m excited.”
One of his first tasks will surely be to get the quarterback situation panned out. Austin Allen, the Razorbacks’ starter for most of 2017, went undrafted but joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent this offseason.
Morris will have the luxury of trying to protect his quarterback with four offensive lineman returning from last season.
If Morris can get good production out of the quarterback position, his other stars on offense may get the chance to shine.
Beating the Odds
Most are predicting that Morris’ team will win around six games this season.
While he’s rightfully excited about what lies ahead, the Razorbacks’ 2018 recruitment class still isn’t all that daunting compared to the rest of the SEC. For Arkansas to improve in 2018, Morris will need to bring an added edge to a program that has lacked it for a while.
It may not be easy, and it may not happen all in one season, but at least Arkansas feel they have right man at the helm to turn it around.
— Razorback Football (@RazorbackFB) July 19, 2018
“I said it before, but the time is now and the place is here,” he said. “Fayetteville, Arkansas is a special place.”