Arkansas football impressed; Arkansas basketball depressed on Wednesday
Arkansas football rules the world of Razorbacks sports. So, with your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast and get caught up. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas … especially Arkansas football. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points! There is no place like it on the web.
Wednesday was a good day to be a Razorbacks football fan. The state met the Hogs’ offensive and defensive coordinators, Joe Craddock and John Chavis. They also met strength and conditioning coach Trumain Carroll.
With their announcements and subsequent meeting with the media, first-year coach Chad Morris now, officially, has a complete staff. The staff may be more important than the head coach himself. That was learned when Bret Bielema was still in control.
Morris’ staff is impressive. Not because of its credentials, though that’s part of it. The coaches aren’t impressive because of their recruiting acumen or on-field results. Those, too, are a bit of it. Mostly, however, Morris’ staff seems to have every base covered somehow.
There is youth with assistants Craddock, Justin Stepp and Dustin Fry. None of them are older than 35. There is wisdom with Chavis and his nearly 30 years of coaching in the SEC and with Jeff Traylor, who is nearing 50. Morris’ staff has familiarity with Arkansas’ personnel, having retained Barry Lunney Jr. and John Scott Jr. from Bielema’s staff. The staff also has new faces who can take a fresh look at the roster.
All of these things, combined with the aforementioned usual traits, make Arkansas’ staff one of the most intriguing at the school in recent history. It’s impossible to guess what kind of success it will have all together, but even if the way the coaches were all announced simultaneously causes pause (as it does with me), they are still a unit that brings a bit of everything to the table.
Basketball Hogs may be objectively bad
No one in the assembled Arkansas media is a bigger fan of Mike Anderson as a coach than I am. No one. But faith in his 2017-18 Razorbacks is waning.
Arkansas lost its third straight game on Wednesday night to open SEC play 1-3. This time, it came at the hands of LSU, the team picked to finish last in the conference, by 21 points.
LSU is better than where it was projected. By no means, though, are the Tigers the sort of team that should be able to waltz into Bud Walton Arena and embarrass Arkansas. That’s exactly what the Tigers did. Although, frankly, Arkansas spent more time embarrassing itself than LSU performing such an action on the Razorbacks.
Anderson’s bunch needs to reorganize and do so quickly. A loss Saturday to Missouri might just be the first nail in the coffin of the team’s NCAA Tournament hopes.
Austin Allen was far better than he will be remembered
The biggest shame when it comes to individual players under Bielema was Austin Allen. The fifth-year senior saw his career come to an end after two seasons of modest success. Success that would have been greater had he not taken an absolute beating behind some of the worst offensive lines Arkansas has ever fielded.
Allen is, at the very least, getting credit for that. He went from possible, if not likely, NFL pick, to washout. Injuries took their toll. Oliver Connolly, at our sister site DieHards, named Allen the toughest quarterback in college football in his postseason superlatives.
Deserved recognition for a guy who deserved better than what he got in 2017.
- Hedging is more than just trimming the bushes. Chavis already is a master at it. In his introductory presser Wednesday, he made the statement, “We can win a national championship at Arkansas.” Can.
- To do that, Chavis has to fix the defense. Meaning, more than just do his job. He has to take one of the worst defenses in the country in 2017 and turn it into not average but good. Maybe even great.
- Chavis isn’t known as a recruiter, and he isn’t much of a traveler. But his name, even in his 60s, still carries weight with recruits.
- No shock here given the numbers he put up, but New England defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr., a former Razorbacks lineman, was named the Patriots’ best rookie.
Tweets and the like
• Something tells me Bielema was not a big yoga guy.
There will be a certified yoga teacher on Arkansas' strength staff.
— Trent Shadid (@Shadid13) January 10, 2018
• Episode 3 of a less-than-3-minute film breakdown video is now online with former Arkansas quarterback Quinn Grovey and Coach Morris. #Knowledge
Two football guys breaking down film.
— Razorback Football (@RazorbackFB) January 10, 2018
• Those kicks are sick, man. Baseball is five weeks away, folks.
— Razorback Baseball (@RazorbackBSB) January 10, 2018
• Whew. My man got paaaaid.
$500K annual pay for Michigan's new FB strength coach Ben Herbert is double what Michigan was paying his predecessor and $140K more than what he was due from Arkansas (he was terminated after Bielema's firing). Herbert stands to be among 5 highest-paid strength coaches in CFB.
— Steve Berkowitz (@ByBerkowitz) January 10, 2018