Like it is:

Don't assume quick fix in Morris' first year

By: Wally Hall
Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Arkansas coach Chad Morris watches as quarterback Ty Storey throws a pass during warmups prior to the Razorbacks' spring game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Little Rock.
Photo by Thomas Metthe
Arkansas coach Chad Morris watches as quarterback Ty Storey throws a pass during warmups prior to the Razorbacks' spring game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Little Rock.

Chad Morris is not a magician, a miracle worker or a mythical figure.

He's a hard-working, innovative football coach with the nerves of a Las Vegas bookie.

No one -- not Morris, Nick Saban, Knute Rockne, Bear Bryant, Steve Spurrier or anyone in the history of college football -- could turn the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Razorbacks around in one year, let alone one spring.

Already there is talk of the Razorbacks going 7-5 and getting a lower-tier bowl bid, which would be a satisfactory start.

Sure it would, and President Donald Trump not tweeting would be great, too.

It seems some fans think Arkansas' schedule combined with Morris' offensive genius are enough to turn the USS Razorback cruise ship 180 degrees.

Morris is good, but he needs time, and the schedule is never easy -- not for anyone in the SEC, not even Alabama.

When you play in the SEC, especially in the West Division, there are no gimmes. None. Zero.

In the past six years, which means since Bobby Petrino left, the Razorbacks are 13-35 in SEC play and have had one season when they were over .500 in conference play. In 2015, the Hogs were 5-3 and had a win over Missouri from the East Division.

Arkansas has won at Auburn twice in the past decade.

The Razorbacks haven't beaten Alabama since 2006 or Texas A&M since 2011.

Yes, on paper the Hogs have some home games that should sell a lot of tickets. They get Alabama, Vanderbilt and LSU in Fayetteville, and Ole Miss in Little Rock.

Again, they haven't beaten the Crimson Tide in what seems like forever, Vandy should be a victory, but the Hogs are 2-4 against the Tigers since Petrino left.

Not including the games vs. Texas A&M in Arlington, the Razorbacks are 7-14 at home against the SEC in the past six years.

Taking a look at this year's schedule Arkansas has what should be wins against Eastern Illinois, North Texas and Tulsa in nonconference.

Anyone who thinks Colorado State, in Fort Collins, is going to be easy has never tried to play a team that has had five consecutive winning seasons at an altitude that no one adjusts to in a week, let alone two days.

The Hogs open the conference season at Auburn, where they have won once since Petrino left, and that was in 2012 when the Tigers were awful. Those Tigers were 0-8 in SEC play and 3-9 overall, and Gene Chizik was fired, making room for Gus Malzahn to return.

Arkansas goes to Auburn on Sept. 22 for the third time to face Malzahn. On the Plains in the last two meetings the Razorbacks were outscored by a total of 101-24. Bret Bielema did beat Malzahn in Reynolds Razorback Stadium 54-46 in four overtimes in 2015.

Before Arkansas gets to Vandy it will have played Auburn, A&M, Alabama and Ole Miss, which is going to be better.

After the Commodores, the Hogs get LSU and go on the road to Mississippi State and Missouri.

The Razorbacks have never won at Missouri and are 1-5 against the Bulldogs since the Petrino days. Yes, MSU has a new coach but so does Arkansas.

Morris has been upbeat and positive during this spring practice. That's his nature, but he will come out of these 15 practices without a starting quarterback, and with some good receivers but without a great deal of burner speed.

Morris and his staff will spend the summer months tweaking the offense to make it fit the personnel -- he's really good at that -- and there is some help coming in the freshman class.

The one thing to expect this fall is that Morris and company are laying a foundation for the future, not one season.

Sports on 04/11/2018

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