Razorbacks report:

Hatfield has praise for staff

By: Bob Holt , Tom Murphy
Published: Saturday, August 18, 2018
Ken Hatfield (left) shares a laugh Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, with Jesse Branch during the annual Kickoff Luncheon at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center in Springdale.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Ken Hatfield (left) shares a laugh Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, with Jesse Branch during the annual Kickoff Luncheon at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center in Springdale.

SPRINGDALE -- Ken Hatfield was impressed with what he heard from University of Arkansas Coach Chad Morris during the UA's kickoff luncheon Friday at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center.

"I thought his message was great," said Hatfield, who led the Razorbacks to a 55-17-1 record as their head coach from 1984-89 and as a senior in 1964 starred on their 11-0 team as a defensive back and punt returner. "I think he understands the passion of the fans that historically goes back years and years.

"The passion is still there. Arkansas is still a unique place, and I think Chad and his coaches can feel it now they've been out to the Razorback Club meetings and met the fans."

Hatfield will be among the former Razorbacks who attend today's scrimmage and barbecue at Morris' invitation.

"I like the new coaching staff," Hatfield said. "I like their intensity. I think they've got to find a quarterback. All five have something to offer, and someone just has to stand out eventually."

Hatfield said it's tough that the offensive line has been hit hard by injuries.

"I hate to see we've got so many offensive linemen out right now," he said. "I haven't seen any offense you can run without linemen. You need some dominant linemen, and finding them is a real challenge."

Hatfield said he's impressed by the job Arkansas' coaching staff has done recruiting.

"The recruiting for the future has been outstanding with the commitments they've already got and are continuing to get," he said. "But I think everybody here knows we want to win right now, because you owe it to the seniors. They won't have another chance. I know Chad will do all he can to have the best year they can."

Morris was hired at Arkansas in December after three seasons at SMU. He also was an offensive coordinator at Tulsa and Clemson and a Texas high school coach for 16 seasons.

"I think Chad was a great hire," Hatfield said. "He's got all the ingredients to be successful at Arkansas in the modern era of where we are in the SEC West.

"I think he's going to help us get a lot of doors open again in east Texas and other parts of Texas for recruiting. For Arkansas, we all know how important it is to recruit Texas."

Camp talk

Arkansas offensive coordinator Joe Craddock and defensive coordinator John Chavis said at the luncheon that they've been pleased with camp.

"Our guys are giving a lot of effort," Craddock said. "They're working extremely hard. They've completely bought into what we're trying to do with Coach Morris' system and our philosophy. I couldn't be prouder of the progress we've made since spring training."

Chavis said the players came into camp in great condition, which has helped produce competitive practices.

"There's been days the offense has challenged us from a defensive standpoint, and I hope we've done the same thing for them, because that's the only way we're going to get better," Chavis said. "It's been a little bit of a grind, but that's what fall camp is, and our players have responded."

One Hog Call

Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek announced that UA wants fans to hold a simultaneous Hog call at 1 p.m. Central on Aug. 31 -- the day before the Razorbacks open the season against Eastern Illinois.

"We're asking Razorbacks fans throughout the state and around the globe to join together for 'One Hog Call,' " Yurachek said. "We want fans to stop whatever they're doing, wherever they are, and call the Hogs."

Yurachek, who was hired from Houston in December, said after the banquet that he believes the concept will help bring fans closer together.

"As I went around the state, one of the things I quickly realized is the feeling that there's a little bit of disconnect between Northwest Arkansas and the rest of the state," he said. "It's really about uniting this state and reuniting Razorback fans across the globe to make them feel like a part of this program."

Yurachek was asked if it would probably be a good idea if doctors who are Arkansas fans don't interrupt surgery to call the Hogs.

"I would agree," he said with a smile. "Maybe the doctors should schedule their surgeries around the 'One Hog Call.' Or we'll give them a mulligan and they can do do it a little bit later or a little bit earlier."

Yurachek said the university is setting up a social media site where fans can send their videos of calling the Hogs, which will be played on the giant screens at Reynolds Razorback Stadium during the Arkansas-Eastern Illinois game.

"We'll see how this goes," he said. "It may become a tradition once a year or prior to every home weekend. We don't know yet."

Two spots open

Arkansas has 83 players on scholarship, meaning Chad Morris could award scholarships to two walk-ons to get to the NCAA limit of 85.

"We'll get to 85," Morris said. "For sure we will. But that's where we're sitting right now."

Morris said he expects to sign 19 to 22 players in the 2019 recruiting class based on the formula he expects to lose about six players -- besides those who complete their eligibility -- for various reasons.

"I think we've got 15 seniors and adding six to that gets you to 21," he said. "We've got some guys that if [they] have a great season and have an opportunity to come out [for the NFL Draft], if it benefits them, then we're definitely going to give them the support and direction they need. That means a lot of good things are happening."

Among the players seemingly in contention for a scholarship are linebacker Grant Morgan, receivers Tobias Enlow and Tyson Morris and kicker Connor Limpert.

Hospital visit

The Razorbacks' coaches and players visited patients and their families at Arkansas Children's Hospital Northwest after the kickoff luncheon.

Chad Morris said the team will be making visits to the hospital at other times during the year as well. He said his teams at SMU also made visiting hospitalized children a priority.

"When you take the players into these hospitals ... they're thinking they're going to impact a young person's life," Morris said. "I tell our coaches all the time, 'Just get back on the bus and watch how those kids have impacted [the players'] life.'

"We've been in some rooms that the parents and kids are going through some strong, bad adversity in their life. We at least put a smile on their face and provide hope."

Bread debate

ESPN's Marty Smith and Ryan McGee had fun during their sit-down conversations with all 14 SEC head coaches in Atlanta in July by asking if they preferred biscuits or cornbread.

Arkansas Coach Chad Morris was on the majority "biscuit" side, describing his favorite style as "a little flour on top, give me some honey, molasses and some butter, mix it up."

Gus Malzahn, Derrick Mason, Will Muschamp and Barry Odom also were solid biscuit men, while Ed Orgeron, after considerable thought, went to the cornbread side along with Jeremy Pruitt.

A few coaches indicated "both" as their response, with Mississippi State's Joe Moorhead declaring, "If you put both on the plate, I'm not going to throw either of them out."

Florida's Dan Mullen explained that "a biscuit is breakfast food, cornbread is a dinner food."

Alabama Coach Nick Saban opined, "It's tougher to find quality cornbread. You can find a biscuit anywhere."

Said Georgia's Kirby Smart, "If it's my wife's I'm going biscuits, if it's my momma's I'm going cornbread."

Kentucky's Mark Stoops turned his response into a self-deprecating quip: "We grew up in the north, so we didn't have biscuits or cornbread. "We just ate whatever dried-up toast we could get our hands on."

Freshman adjustment

The freshmen did a good job of making the adjustment to college workouts, Arkansas strength and conditioning coach Truman Carroll said prior to the start of camp.

"Surprisingly well," Carroll said. "This is a group of mature young men."

Carroll said offensive lineman Silas Robinson emerged as a leader among the freshmen.

If freshman orientation ran a little long, meaning the players might be a few minutes late for weight-lifting session, Carroll said Robinson let him know.

"Just that level of maturity," Carroll said. "Obviously, being a coach's kid, he understands the game. His transition has been a smooth one."

Robinson's father, Bo Robinson, the head coach and athletic director at Yoakum (Texas) High School, was an All-Southwest Conference defensive end at Texas.

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