Arkansas football: Chad Morris is right in this regard: The Hogs aren't 'rebuilding.' It's worse than that
Arkansas coach Chad Morris says the Razorbacks don’t want to hear about the 2018 season being a rebuild. He has a very good point, but for the wrong reason.
Morris doesn’t want to hear it because he says his seniors don’t want to accept that. They still want to compete and find a way to make this season something to brag about. That’s clearly not going to happen, though.
The truth is no one should be calling this a rebuild because the term doesn’t fully capture the ineptitude of the program right now. This has become very apparent with the Razorbacks dropping back-to-back games against Colorado State and North Texas the past two weeks. These Hogs have shown they couldn’t compete in the Moutain West or Conference USA right now, much less the SEC West.
Here’s what’s worse: Arkansas is done with the least difficult portion of its schedule. The Hogs open SEC play Saturday at No. 9 Auburn, the beginning of a brutal three-game stretch that includes Texas A&M and Alabama the following two weeks. If Arkansas can remain competitive for even a quarter in any of those games, it’ll come as a surprise.
At least Morris and Auburn coach Gus Malzahn have a friendship going back to their days as high school coaches. That might save the Razorbacks a few points of embarrassment for one week.
The schedule lightens up a bit after facing Alabama, but maybe not enough for Arkansas to earn a win over an FBS school this season. The Hogs’ best opportunity will come against Tulsa in mid-October. It’s a virtual certainty Arkansas will be an underdog in its other eight remaining games.
After seeing what has happened and looking at what looms ahead, 2018 has the makings to be the worst season in program history. The Razorbacks have won at least two games every year since 1932. Even with just one win that season, they at least managed to win a Southwest Conference game over Baylor. Arkansas winning a conference game this season doesn’t feel even remotely possible.
That’s because the Razorbacks’ have hit rock bottom with their 44-17 home loss to North Texas. Expect them to stay there for the foreseeable future. Right now, the program is in need of a resuscitation the schedule won’t allow.
And don’t write this off as entirely Bret Bielema’s fault. The team Morris inherited is more talented than Colorado State and North Texas. A lot of the issues during this disastrous start should be attributed to coaching, not talent.
Arkansas blew an 18-point lead in the second half at Colorado State. The Hogs built that lead because they were the more talented team. They had a chance to put the game away on 4th-and-1 from the 50-yard line and holding a 10-point advantage to begin the fourth quarter. Instead, Morris opted to punt despite his running backs combining to average 6.3 yards per carry in the game. With that decision, Morris wasn’t playing to win, he was playing not to lose and it cost the Hogs.
Against North Texas, the Razorbacks were inexplicably wasting timeouts on kickoffs and being duped into allowing a punt return touchdown. At one point, Arkansas called for a flea-flicker pass with quarterback Cole Kelley clearly hurt and struggling to even stand up. Unsurprisingly, the play resulted in an interception.
This is what’s especially troubling. The Hogs are going to lose plenty of games due to a lack of talent compared to the opponent. But they haven’t actually played any of those games yet.
So until Morris shows he can guide this program in the right direction, let’s take his advice and avoid calling this thing a rebuild. It’s much worse than that.