After eight very long months with the end of the Bret Bielema era, it’s finally time to see what Chad Morris can do at the helm of Razorback football! A few of us here at Arkansas Fight discussed a few questions surrounding the program.
We’ve gone through an offseason with Chad Morris at the helm. After what we’ve seen so far, how optimistic are you that he can be successful at Arkansas?
Cody Smith: The man can talk a good game, and his staff are recruiting well so far. That is 2 for 2 as far as what the fan base needs to be optimistic about football moving forward. However, it is still concerning to me that, despite improving a poor SMU program over three years, he is not coming into Arkansas with a proven ability to win a lot of games against a high level of competition. I need to see some quality wins before becoming very optimistic.
Derek Oxford: I was very skeptical of the Chad Morris hire at first, just looking at his overall record at SMU and lack of head coaching experience, but the staff he was able to hire and the enthusiasm he’s shown so far and the strides they are making in recruiting is impressive no matter how you slice it up.
Eric Harris: Like Derek I was also skeptical of what he brought to the table. He’s saying and doing the right things, especially in recruiting, which has me a bit more optimistic. I’m definitely waiting to see a few games before anointing him as the savior of Razorback football.
Cole Kelley was named the starter for game one, but which QB do you think should lead the team out there?
Cody Smith: Ty Storey seems to be the best bet for running a fast paced offense and evading the pressure that a shallow O-Line is going to give up.
Derek Oxford: Cole Kelley. He led the team to two wins last year and I think he has the physical tools to be successful in this offense, especially since he’s shed weight.
Eric Harris: I’ll go Kelley since he’s got the experience and physical tools. I wouldn’t be surprised with the new redshirt rule to see Connor Noland get a shot at starting at some point though.
What position do you feel most comfortable with going into the season? Which group makes you the most nervous?
Cody Smith: I really like what I am hearing about the young linebackers who are joining some solid veterans. It is hard not to be most concerned with the offensive line, given the injuries lately.
Derek Oxford: Most comfortable in the running backs. Lots of depth and guys with experience like Devwah Whaley, Chase Hayden and T.J. Hammonds, then you’ve got someone like Rakeem Boyd as well to watch. Definitely most nervous about the offensive line because of lack of numbers and injuries, plus it was atrocious last season.
Eric Harris: Quarterback worries me. Having all these skill position guys doesn’t mean a lot if you can’t get them the ball in good situations. I do like how the linebackers stack up too. That’s probably where the most talent is for the Hogs between Scoota and Greenlaw, plus there’s some reasonable depth too.
After going through a disastrous 4-8 season, what will make this year a successful one in your eyes? Are win in a complete tear down and rebuild mode? Should fans expect a bowl?
Cody Smith: There is plenty to build upon with the experience coming back this season. I think it will take a sweep of the non-conference schedule to have a chance at a bowl game, which would be a successful season given the lack of proof of Morris’ ability.
Derek Oxford: Anything better than 4-8 would be acceptable. A bowl would definitely make it successful. 7-5 and people would be ecstatic and would be ahead of schedule.
Eric Harris: Anyone who listens to PAPN knows the term “Year Zero” for coaches. I think talent wise it’s not a complete year zero rebuild for the roster, but the current landscape of the SEC West makes it hard to not see it that way.
And finally to put you on the spot, what is your prediction for the Hogs’ record in 2018? And who will be the MVP of the team?
Cody Smith: I’ll optimistically say 6-6. Last Chance U got me excited to see Rakeem Boyd play for a team that I support. I think he leads Arkansas in a few productive categories.
Derek Oxford: 5-7. Offensive MVP will be Devwah Whaley. Defensive MVP will be Dre Greenlaw.
Eric Harris: I’m going 5-7 too. There’s just not enough depth to fill the holes if/when people get injured. I’m going on a bit of a limb and saying Randy Ramsey puts together a huge year.