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Arkansas Football Chad Morris: Offensive Philosophy Pt II

PT II, more look at the Chad Morris offense.

Josh Goforth

In part II lets go a little deeper into newly hired Arkansas Football Head Coach Chad Morris’s philosophy on the offensive side of the ball. In the first part I went through some notes from the 2013 AFCA session while he was an OC at Clemson. I also have a copy of the 2013 Clemson Playbook which illustrates much of the same formations that he took on to SMU and will bring to Arkansas. You can check those out here. (2013 Clemson Playbook)

Morris will have Joe Craddock calling the plays and so far has announced several other staff members that will join him from SMU. Although he does have an OC, this is his offense and I’m confident that he will be in on all aspects of the gameplan from play calling during the game to specific shot plays based on landmarks of the field.

RPO’s (Run Pass Option): All the way back in 2013 Morris was on the cutting edge of the RPO revolution in College Football. Clemson developed multiple RPOs with both play action runs and QB Zone reads built in.

“Thats the direction this whole thing is going now, that coupled with tempo has a tendency to put people in a bind.”

Here is an example off of “Atlanta” inside zone with RPO tagged “book it”.

QB Pre snap reads: Morris has a simplified passing game as I mentioned before, and is very similiar to other Tempo teams where a couple of key concepts with extra motion can go a long way. Here are what he lays out as important to the pre snap process.

1. Find the FS, if he is playing off the hash he will be staying off the hash. Is he upright or bent knees, if bent knees hes coming down. Demeanor of safety is important.

2. Nickel/Sam and SS next identify hot and adjust accordingly.

Inside the 10 play calling: Wants to keep the ball in the QB hands as much as possible. Use some two and three TE sets, love speed motion inside the 10 yd line. Not only as the decoy but will flip it. (ARK had success with jet sweep in 2017) Looks to rely on QB run game in redzone.

Game plan development:

Sunday Afternoon: Watch film cuts from previous game, grade each player out. Doesn’t watch entire game with offensive staff, narrows down to 35 plays to focus on good/bad.

Sunday Night: Watch 1st halves of last three games on upcoming opponent.

Monday Morning: Each position coach looks are individual studies: oline blitz PU, WR coach downfield shots. QB Coach looks at short yardage and report that afternoon. OC looks at formations, gets a list and narrows down or adds through the week.

Tuesday Night: 3rd Down study, believes that if you want to win at any level must be good on 3rd down. Also look at redzone gameplan.

Wed: Add and remove plays and P&10 study. First play of a possession is key and if you can get a 1st down on that first play they’ve scored 66% of the time on the drive. Go through a series of P&10 plays in practice on this day, make sure have all personnel right and prevent burning timeouts.

Thursday: Gameplan is set, just repping and making adjustments. QB meeting for 30 minutes inside the building to go over the plan and then walk through each landmark and sub in out.

Sideline or box play calling: Likes for the play caller to be on the sideline. Headsets can be a total cluster, only thing he needs to know as OC is down and distance and hash. Asks box coach to memorize land marks from the gameplan and everyone knows what they are going to run. Run through plays by land mark (45 yd line R hash, 20 yd line l has.)

Between series first thing he likes to do is have QBs sit with offensive line and talk about what happened on last drive. Then correct or discuss next series plan.

Morris goes on from there to answer some questions about QB development and drills. That will be, in my opinion a key to transitioning from the primarily under center offense of the past five seasons. I really think Cole Kelley fits this system well and with development can be highly effective.

Several other QBs on the roster or in one particular that has committed, has been in this type of offense in high school. The “2 Back Run oriented play action shot offense” as he likes to describe it also allows flexibility to tailor each season to the strengths of that particular quarterback. Better quick pass game, throw the screens and RPOs. Better in the zone read game, call the pull on zone read or carry playaction or boot all the way outside.

Next step is to look at some film from this last season at SMU and previous teams at Clemson for clues on what the Arkansas Uptempo Offense will look like next year. The overhaul will not be completed overnight and there will be a learning curve.

We also can not forget that improvement in the other two phases of the game will determine some wins and losses in the SEC, but with a high powered offense capable of scoring on anybody, the margin for error might just close down a bit.

Check back for more insight into the playbook, current personnel and what to expect in Spring camp.