FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas coach Chad Morris announced the official hiring of his 10 assistant coaches Tuesday. Morris is also in the midst of piecing together the 2018 recruiting class, and continuing evaluation of the current roster.
The media spoke to the Hogs’ new coach Wednesday morning about the above topics and more. Here’s are some of the highlights from what he had to say:
- Defensive coordinator John Chavis, offensive coordinator Joe Craddock and strength coach Trumain Carroll are joining Morris for the press conference.
- Morris opens with a “Happy New Year” to the media. He dives right into how excited he is about the staff he has hired. He says they are still working to hire some support staff.
- Morris highlights the “quality of person” and the fit in the program played a major role in his hiring process. “If you recruit the right quality of players and surround them with the right staff, you’ll win. And that’s what we’re going to do.”
- Morris wanted a defensive coordinator who could be multiple in his schemes and bring pressure while tying in all parts of the defense from the line to the secondary. He believes Chavis’ experience and track record makes him a perfect fit to accomplish those things.
- Chavis’ name always came up with Morris over the years when he focused on looking for defensive coordinators that play an aggressive style of defense. The two coached against each other a bowl game in 2013 while Morris was OC at Clemson and Chavis was DC at LSU. Morris says he really looked at what defensive coordinators have given his offense problems, and Chavis was at the top of that list.
- Morris says he and Chavis had talked some after he was hired, but he wanted to wait until he was finished coaching at Texas A&M to really go after him. A closer relationship was built and things began to become official over the past 10-12 days, Morris says.
- Craddock and Morris work together in the play calling process. Craddock typically makes the initial call, but Morris will provide input when he feels necessary. He and Morris have been together going back to Clemson. “I felt like the longer we worked together, the more I’ve trusted Joe.”
- Morris gave the primary duties of play calling to Craddock after his first year at SMU in a effort to show his team he cares about more than offense as a head coach.
- Offensive line coach Dustin Fry will also serve as run game coordinator. Morris says that’s a title centered around the game plan during the week. By the end of the week, they all put the pieces of the plan together.
- Morris says the model he is building at Arkansas starts and ends with recruiting. He says his recruiting staff is growing and will continue to grow in order to compete with teams around the country.
- Tanner Burns, a special teams quality control coach the past two seasons, is being retained in that same role under Morris. Every coach on the staff has a special teams responsibility with tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. and defensive line coach John Scott Jr. taking on more than the others.
- Morris says Scott discussed the deficiencies of the defense when they first met. Morris was very impressed with how honest Scott was about where the team needs to improve. After that, Morris told Scott after that conversation he would retain him after hiring a defensive coordinator if that spot remained open.
- Defensive backs coach Mark Smith will also be the director of on-field recruiting. That is a role that manages the recruiting board (top targets) and what holes the team needs to fill in recruiting. Smith was the director of recruiting at SMU under Morris and was expected to fill that roll at Arkansas as well. He also previously a high school head coach in Texas.
- Asked about uniforms, Morris indicates he’s open to just about anything as long as it’s good for recruiting.
- Morris is excited about next season since Arkansas played so many young players. He also indicated they need to find a way to get more speed on the field. “We want guys that can run holes in the wind.”
- Many of the players have already come back and met with Morris and the staff despite school not starting for the spring semester until next week. He says the players are disappointed to not be playing over the holidays and they don’t want that to happen again.
- Arkansas signed eight players in the early signing period last month. He says they expect to sign another 6-8 in February. He highlights offensive line, safety and defensive end as spots of need.