New Arkansas offensive coordinator Joe Craddock amazed by ascent

By: Bob Holt
Published: Thursday, January 11, 2018
Arkansas offensive coordinator Joe Craddock speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas offensive coordinator Joe Craddock speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Four years after Joe Craddock was a graduate assistant coach at Clemson, he'll be calling plays for the Arkansas Razorbacks as the offensive coordinator for Coach Chad Morris.

Craddock, 32, said Wednesday he didn't expect to make such a rapid rise through the college ranks when he arrived at Clemson in 2012 as a player development coach after two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Birmingham (Ala.) Briarwood Christian School.

"Me and Coach Morris have actually talked about that," Craddock said. "How fast it's moved for him and how fast it's moved for me."

Craddock, who also will coach the quarterbacks, said the people he's had around him deserve a lot of credit for his success.

"I haven't done it on my own," Craddock said. "I understand that. But I've also worked really, really hard and I think that I made that impression on Coach Morris early on. I've been able to keep that up by working hard and trying to outwork everybody else."

When Morris was hired as SMU's coach in 2015 after being Clemson's offensive coordinator for four seasons, he brought Craddock with him to Dallas.

"Joe and I worked really well together when I was at Clemson," Morris said. "Great, sharp, young mind. Knew the game, had answers."

It didn't take Craddock long to answer when Morris offered him a job at SMU.

"He came to me and said, 'I want to make you my offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach,' and I was like, 'Wow, Coach,' " Craddock said. "So I guess Coach believed in me and gave me that shot, and I'm forever grateful for that."

Morris called the plays on offense his first season at SMU, then in 2016 turned over those duties to Craddock.

"I just felt like that I couldn't be quite the head coach that I needed to be taking over and still be the 100 percent play-caller when I was at SMU our first year," Morris said. "I felt like there were some areas -- especially on defense -- where we were being deficient because my attention wasn't on that side of the ball.

"So it was important for those kids to see that I'm a head coach and not be able to walk in the room and say all he cares about is offense."

Craddock appreciated the confidence Morris showed by allowing him to call plays.

"I know that was tough for him to do, because he's an offensive-minded coach by trade," Craddock said. "It meant a lot to me that he trusted me enough to get it done.

"He's got a lot of things on his plate and for me to be able to pick up that slack is very important to me."

In 2016, SMU finished 51st nationally in total offense (427.3 yards per game) and 76th in scoring offense (27.7 points).

During the 2017 regular season, before Morris was hired at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, the Mustangs ranked No. 13 in total offense (493.8 yards) and No. 8 in scoring offense (40.2 points).

Morris said while Craddock calls the plays, putting together an offensive plan during the week and how it unfolds on game day is a collaborative effort. He said putting it all on Craddock wouldn't have been fair.

"He has taken over a lot more of the responsibility, but he and I work hand in hand together through the whole thing," Morris said. "He's on the headset, he's calling the plays, but if I say, 'Hey, Joe, let's take a shot right here' or 'I want to run the football right here' or 'I want split flow zone' or 'Run the power right here' or 'Let's get in 12 personal,' that's how this whole thing works."

As a senior quarterback at Middle Tennessee State in 2008, Craddock passed for 2,677 yards and 15 touchdowns.

"I'm a quarterback. I like to throw the ball," Craddock said with a smile when asked about his preference on offense. "But I know we've got to run the football. We've got to be physical up front. There's no doubt about it in this league."

Craddock said that growing up in Chelsea, Ala., he watched SEC games every Saturday in the fall.

"So I know you have to be able to run the football if you're going to survive," he said. "You can't drop back and throw the ball 50 or 60 times a game. It can't happen. We've got to recruit to that."

SMU quarterback Ben Hicks passed for 3,569 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2017, and the Mustangs had two of the nation's top 30 receivers in Trey Quinn (114 catches for 1,236 yards) and Courtland Sutton (68 catches for 1,085 yards). Tailback Xavier Jones rushed 182 times for 1,075 yards.

"Every single play we have -- even a pass play -- has a run check to it," Craddock said. "If there's a clean box, we're looking to run the football."

OC history

Arkansas’ offensive coordinators since 1977:

2018 Joe Craddock

2015-2017 Dan Enos

2013-2014-Jim Chaney

2012 Paul Petrino

2010-2011 Garrick McGee

2008-2009 Paul Petrino

2007 David Lee

2006 Gus Malzahn

2003-2005 Mike Markuson/Roy Wittke

1998-2002 None listed

1997 Kay Stephenson

1993-1996 None listed

1992 Greg Davis

1990-1990 None listed

1989 Jack Crowe

1983-1988 None listed

1981-1982 Larry Beightol

1979-1980 None listed

1977-1978 Larry Beightol

SOURCE UA football media guide

Sports on 01/11/2018

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