FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — It’s obvious new Arkansas coach Chad Morris is fully capable of bringing an exciting offense to the Razorbacks.
But what about the Hogs’ defense? That’s truly where Arkansas failed in its final two seasons under Bret Bielema, which ultimately led to his firing last month.
The Razorbacks allowed 36.2 points per game this past season, ranking last in the SEC and No. 116 in the FBS. Southern Methodist, where Morris spent the last three seasons, was equally poor at stopping opponents. The Mustangs allowed 35.5 points per game in the 2017 regular season.
Morris insists he has a plan, however, and it has nothing to do with his own expertise.
“I’ll hire the best defensive coordinator in all of college football. That’s our standard,” Morris said Thursday at his introductory press conference.
So, who is the best defensive coordinator in college football, according to Morris? Some reports have him pursuing Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables. The two worked together at Clemson for three seasons (2012-14) while both served as coordinators under Dabo Swinney.
Realistically, that’s a pipe dream. It’s highly unlikely Venables would leave his current job, where he’s making $1.7 million annually, according to USA Today. He’s comfortable at Clemson, surrounded by great players with all the resources to win currently in place. Why leave that to start rebuilding the worst defense in the SEC?
Besides, would Morris really pursue the top assistant to Swinney — the coach who gave Morris his first job at the Power 5 level? Morris suggested Thursday he would not.
“I’m sure Coach Swinney wouldn’t like that,” Morris said. “But without disclosing any names right now, I’ve got a short list. Some of them I’ve had to play against, and be around, watch, admired from afar. So, we’ve got a great plan for that.”
Morris said he was hopeful to speak with some potential candidates to fill the job Thursday afternoon. Finding the right fit will be crucial to determining how successful he’ll be in Fayetteville, at least in the immediate future.
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