The Chad Morris era at Arkansas is 10 games old with two more remaining in a 2018 season that can’t end soon enough. The Razorbacks will need an unlikely road win over Mississippi State or Missouri to avoid their first 10-loss season in program history.
This is really just a sacrificial season. The Hogs are navigating the bumpy road that is necessary for a coaching change to end up being a success.
So, is Morris the right coach to turn this program around? It’s too early to make that determination. But there are a few important things that have become apparent after Morris’ first 10 games.
Arkansas is undergoing more than a rebuild
To call the job Morris has undertaken at Arkansas a rebuild is quite an understatement. He inherited a program that’s nowhere near being able to compete in the SEC West. Everything needed to be torn down before creating an entirely new foundation with which to build upon. At this juncture, the tearing down part is still a work at progress. We might not have a good idea of what Morris can turn the Hogs into for some time. A level of patience that is very seldom seen in major college football these days is required to give Morris the chance to prove himself.
Morris needs much better QB play
Ty Storey has improved greatly as Arkansas’ quarterback this season, and he’s still not close to being the type of player Morris needs at the position. Though he’s easily the best option right now, he lacks the skill-set to help this up-tempo offense reach its full capability.
It goes without saying most any team needs strong quarterback play to have success. However, there are few offensive systems less equipped to work around an average quarterback than this one. The ideal quarterback for Morris’ system is one who thrives as a scrambler and throwing the deep ball. Storey has neither quality.
The offense is very complex
While a varied skill-set at quarterback is very important for Morris’ offense, so is having a one that’s spent a significant amount of time learning the playbook. The Hogs’ playbook is very complex and not quickly learned. All of the quarterbacks have struggled with it this season, and Morris hasn’t even begun to use half of his full system yet.
Unless a quarterback is among the most talented recruits in the country, it’s not likely any will come in and thrive right away. It’s become very apparent Arkansas’ offense needs a quarterback that has been learning the system for years instead of months to be overly effective. Obviously, that’s just not something that will be the case for a while, but you can understand why many think Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant would be a good fit.
Current players are a bad fit
While there isn’t the level of talent on campus needed to compete in the SEC, there should be enough to have more than 2 wins this season. But this isn’t just about overall talent. It’s also about the type of talent in place.
Simply put, Arkansas’ skill players don’t match what Morris wants. Among receivers, there isn’t nearly enough speed or size at what is the second-most important position in this offense. The Hogs have more top talent defensively, there’s just not nearly enough of it for John Chavis’ defense to have the level of depth it needs. The current players were recruited for a system that wanted to shorten the game with hopes to be on the field as little as possible. But this new defense needs to be built with the opposite in mind.
This staff can recruit
Arkansas fans should have two upcoming dates circled for celebration: Dec. 19 and Feb. 6. Those dates are the beginning of the two 2019 signing periods when the Razorbacks are expected to sign what looks like their best class in the recruiting rankings era. As things stand, the Hogs are No. 16 nationally and No. 7 in the SEC according to the 247Sports composite. There are 7 4-star commitments in the class, including 3 wide receivers all topping 6-2 and top tight end target Hudson Henry. That’s an incredibly impressive accomplishment considering how much Arkansas has struggled on the field this season.