Has The Fire In Morris Been Put Out?

Razorback Football

It has been less than 24 hours since the Arkansas Razorbacks had to a make a 17 point comeback to tie the game with San Jose State. Not to beat a dead horse but the Spartans have won a total of 8 games since 2016, went 1-11 in 2018, starting a former walk-on, senior quarterback that has thrown for 300 yards three times in his career. Once against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and twice against UNLV. Wow. 

In the post game press conference, Razorback head coach, Chad Morris, mentioned guys being “too loose, giddy” before the matchup versus the Spartans. Obviously, he had trouble with that late in 2018 when he had to suspend two secondary players for talking to an opponents cheerleaders before a game. That falls on Morris. There should never be a moment where you have to get the attention of your players. For crying out loud, you just came off a ~REVENGE~ win against Colorado State where Club Dub was introduced.

Neither side of the football did much to help each other out last night. When the defense would create a turnover, Nick Starkel would throw a pick. It was until mid third quarter that there was intensity at all. The Hogs started to generate somewhat of a rush, the back seven were able to breakup a few passes and helped wheel the Razorbacks to tie the ball game with  2:56 to go. That should have been enough. The only difference in this team compared to last years team is that they never quit and fought to tie the game. 

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Chavis, who earlier in the game was trying to hide his face on the sideline, did not have his defense prepared to make ONE. MORE. STOP. With 75 yards to go and 2:56 to go, the Spartans drove down the field in 1:43 for the go-ahead touchdown to seal the victory. YES, their first victory over a Power-5 team since September 7, 2006 against Stanford. 

Never should an SEC team playing at home in year two under a new regime should lose to a one win Mountain West Conference team. They should not struggle against an FCS team that is picked to finish last in their conference. Especially a team that has also only won eight games in three seasons.

This loss falls in the lap of Morris. He should be the one that has his boys ready to play, have the game plan set for Saturday’s to execute and demand excellence from his staff from coordinators to graduate assistants. Everyone should be on the same page and that is not the case. 

There is talent on this team and any good coach, especially one that prides himself being a “high school coach who happens to be a college coach” should mold his offense and defense around the players he has. 

John Chavis has been at three SEC schools before Arkansas and each of them have been able to provide him the elite of elite defensive talent. Here is a theory on that, Chavis has never had to adapt his defense to players that are not so elite. Could that be the answer to the question of why he has not fielded a serviceable defense 16 games into his tenure at Arkansas? Outside of Kam Curl, Scoota Harris, Bumper Pool and McTelvin Agim there are no other elite players who are upperclassmen. Even the freshmen that are starting or receiving playing time are still inexperienced and too green to make a difference when it comes time to face the meat of the conference schedule starting this Saturday. 

Speaking of adapting your talent to his offense, Morris went from an I-Formation coach at Stephenville High School in Texas. He realized that it was not going to work and knew he had to become more innovative. So, be went to meet Gus Malzahn who was at Shiloh Christian, to adopt some of his offense. That was the moment that solidified Morris as a future Texas High School Football Hall of Fame candidate. He had the drive to make it to the college game by the time he was 40. Although he was one year late (41 when Morris became the offensive coordinator at Tulsa), the hunger to achieve his goal was there. When he created a prolific offense at Tulsa, he left for Clemson to take the same position. The Tigers were 15-12 the previous two seasons but o we the next four years, Clemson would go 42-11 under their hungry offensive coordinator. 

The fire in Morris was there to succeed as a collegiate head coach. He left Clemson in December of 2014 to take over a SMU program that was 0-12 the year prior to his hiring. He proved he could build a program at SMU by improving every season he was there. 2-10, 5-7, 7-5. Morris became a hot commodity in the 2017 college coaching carousel that even CBS gave Arkansas a B+ in their hiring of Morris. 

It was obvious that Morris knew the key to rising through the ranks is winning games at a good rate and recruiting at a high clip. Only one of those things he has proven himself with worthy of at Arkansas. Is it the players? The coaching? Play calling? Stubborn coaching? It is a combination of all these. With the nature of college and professional sports being a “what have you done for me lately” career, Razorback fans have the right to ask that very thing. Reeling in good recruiting classes is great but winning games is greater. 

There is plenty of influential donors to put a bug in the ear of Athletic Director, Hunter Yurachek, to encourage Morris to make a move or two during the offseason. Another 2-10 season is absolutely unacceptable. Improvement is necessary but losing to bad Group of Five teams does not show that very thing. 

What have Razorback fans done to deserve the product they have been given over the previous seven years and four games? Not a dang thing. It is time to own up to his stubbornness and find that fire he had to succeed. Cut your losses and establish a winning culture.  

Coach Morris, you are now on the clock. 

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