This position group is changing significantly under Chad Morris compared to Bret Bielema
SEC Country reporter Eric W. Bolin will candidly answer your Arkansas Razorbacks sports queries each weekday in our Mailbag Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryHogs or by email to Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question of the Day: Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Tough question because no matter what answer lies within, it’s going to make someone angry. Some fans definitely will rebut. The players listed will use it as motivation.
What comes next isn’t meant to disparage. The truth is football, to an extent, is zero sum. There are finite snaps that can be had in a football game. If one positional unit is getting more or better work, then almost definitely another will suffer with less or worse work. This, of course, changes a bit with a faster-paced team in which there will be a greater number of offensive snaps overall and, therefore, more work overall. But the percentages always have to add up to 100.
But the truth is, we’re not going with a unit that could lose plays. So, no running backs or wide receivers. Also not going with the hog mollies. It’s hard to imagine Arkansas’ offensive line being any worse in the Morris regime.
No, the answer is quarterbacks. Now, that doesn’t mean Cole Kelley or Ty Storey or Connor Noland or Daulton Hyatt are not cut out for the job. Kelley, in fact, showed he can be a competent quarterback last year, his first season of college football.
What those signal callers are doing under Morris, however, seems quite likely to change significantly from what they were doing under former coach Bret Bielema. More specifically, what they were doing under offensive coordinator Dan Enos.
There exists this misconception that Morris — and offensive coordinator Joe Craddock — require a dual-threat quarterback for their offense. We put that misnomer to rest a few weeks back. The biggest likely change, though, comes with the pace.
An up-tempo pace is something Bielema and Enos experimented with in 2017. Kelley actually seemed to play his best when the Arkansas offense hustled up and didn’t take its time. But no one would ever go out and say the Razorbacks were a “go-go-go” type of offense.
Southern Methodist in 2017, with Morris and Craddock running the show, ran an average of 77 offensive plays per game. That was 23rd in FBS. Arkansas, even with its bouts of quicker play, ran 69.8 plays per game. It might not seem like much, but it’s as many as two extra possessions per game. What’s more is those 8.2 extra plays SMU was getting off is the difference between being ranked 23rd and being ranked 92nd.
So, it isn’t that the Arkansas quarterbacks will have trouble, per se. It’s more the new style is going to be the biggest change for them, more than any other unit. At least, at first blush.