Razorbacks report:

Morris: We'll get it fixed

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Arkansas vs Colorado State Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, at Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins, Colo.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas vs Colorado State Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, at Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins, Colo.

FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas Coach Chad Morris said he is accountable for the Razorbacks' inability to finish out a would-be road victory Saturday.

The Razorbacks blew a 27-9 lead late in the third quarter and allowed the final 25 points in Saturday's 34-27 upset loss at previously winless Colorado State.

"I'm disappointed in the outcome but more disappointed in the process that led to the outcome," Morris said at his Monday news conference. "Our inability to deal both with success and adversity in that ballgame was disappointing.

"I'm the head football coach. It starts with accountability. That's a big part of our culture. It's the main pillar of our culture. Accountability, it's on me. It's on me to fix."

Morris was asked on Monday about the fall-from-ahead losses that have plagued the Razorbacks in recent years, and he said his big message was that little things -- like attention to detail and handling the success of holding a 27-9 lead -- make all the difference.

"We were one stop and one score away from that thing being over with," Morris said. "When you lose focus and you lose attention to details, that's the message.

"It's not going to change. It's the way we address it every day. It's the way we address it on the field going into the fourth quarter, that it's all about the finish. It's how we train. That we train for moments like this, and at some point we've got to break this cycle.

"There's going to be a moment that we're going to break it. But it's there, it's evident, and we've got to break the cycle. I don't know what's happened in the past, but this on my watch, and this how we approach things.

"As I shared with you earlier, it's starts with accountability and it starts with me. Hey, it's right here on me and I'll continue to address it every day. I'll continue to hold the coaches, I'll continue to hold the kids accountable. And I assure you that we'll get that fixed."

Hot 'Green'

Arkansas defensive coordinator John Chavis opened his Monday news conference by listing off stats on 2-0 North Texas.

"Through two ballgames they've got 1,136 total yards, 66 first downs and 915 yards passing, so we're going to see another very fine quarterback," Chavis said.

The Mean Green are 2-0 for the first time since 1994 and have broken their scoring record for the first two games with 104 points. North Texas dominated SMU 46-23 and Incarnate Word 58-16 to open the year, and is aiming for its first win over a Power 5 opponent since defeating Indiana in 2011.

North Texas leads the country with 457.5 passing yards per game, and quarterback Mason Fine is also No. 1 with 431 passing yards per game. A junior, Fine has completed 65 of 90 passes (72.2 percent) for 862 yards, with 7 touchdowns and 1 interception.

2 Watts

Senior defensive lineman Armon Watts has posted strip-sacks in each of the two games, and both led to Arkansas touchdowns.

Watts mangled Eastern Illinois quarterback Harry Woodbery in the end zone, leading to a touchdown recovery for Briston Guidry on Sept. 1. Against Colorado State, Watts pried the ball away from K.J. Carta-Samuels on a 4-yard sack and teammate McTelvin Agim recovered. The Razorbacks scored on T.J. Hammonds' 64-yard catch-and-run touchdown on the ensuing play.

Watts and Agim shared defensive player of the game honors as chosen by the Arkansas coaching staff. Watts had a hurry and five tackles to go along with his sack, while Agim posted 4 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 2 hurries and a pass breakup to go along with the fumble recovery.

Running back Devwah Whaley was chosen as offensive player of the game after rushing for 165 yards and a touchdown while averaging 6.3 yards per carry.

Personnel update

Coach Chad Morris said he expects linebacker Dre Greenlaw to play against North Texas after missing one game with an ankle injury.

Defensive end Randy Ramsey (hamstring) practiced in a green limited-contact jersey Sunday and might be ready for his season debut on Saturday, Morris said.

Offensive tackle Colton Jackson, a projected starter before undergoing back surgery in July, will be re-evaluated this week and might be ready against North Texas. Jackson practiced last week in a green jersey.

"We hope to have him this week, but we know for sure next week," Morris said. "He's definitely progressing."

Defensive end Dorian Gerald, who sat last week with an ankle injury, is day to day.

Morris said tight end Cheyenne O'Grady, suspended for the first two games, will be with the team this week.

Punt game

After Jared Cornelius failed to field a couple of punts at Colorado State that led to lost field position, he was replaced by Deon Stewart, who had a 45-yard return in the third quarter.

Chad Morris said Cornelius will be back as the No. 1 punt returner against North Texas, and both players will see action there.

"Talking to Jared, there were several times he lost [the ball] coming off the lights or off the scoreboard, and I think the altitude, it carried a little bit more on him," Morris said. "When he saw it going over his head, instead of risking it, he just let it go."

Punter Reid Bauer, a true freshman walk-on, replaced junior Blake Johnson last week and averaged 38.2 yards on five attempts.

"As a freshman out there on that stage, I thought his nerves were OK," Morris said. "He averaged 38 yards, and we need more than that. But I thought he did OK."

Tube talk

The Razorbacks' SEC opener at Auburn on Sept. 22 will kick off at 6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m., the SEC announced Monday. The game would air on ESPN or ESPN2 if it is the earlier kickoff time, and the SEC Network if it kicks at 6:30. The decision on the kickoff time will be made after Saturday's games.

Arkansas will play its conference opener against Auburn on the road for the second time in five years after opening the season there in 2014.

Ram kicks

Colorado State's kicking game was clearly a notch above the Razorbacks'. Rams kicker Wyatt Bryan became the school's all-time leading scorer while making field goals of 55, 46, 44 and 22 yards, plus both of his extra-point attempts.

Colorado State punter Ryan Stonehouse improved on his 48-yard average entering the game by booming five punts for a 56.8-yard average, including a 70-yarder that got over the head of Jared Cornelius.

By contrast, Arkansas punter Reid Bauer averaged 38.2 yards on five punts and put two inside the 20-yard line. Kicker Connor Limpert made field goals of 28 and 31 yards, but he missed a 48-yard try wide right and short late in the third quarter.

CB carousel

The defensive coaches paired several players with lead cornerback Ryan Pulley in the loss to Colorado State.

Sophomore Chevin Calloway got the start, but redshirt freshman Jarques McClellion and junior Nate Dalton also were in the rotation.

The Rams went after McClellion and Dalton during their fourth-quarter comeback, most of the time to 6-4 Preston Williams and 6-0 Olabisi Johnson.

"They all have different skills, and certainly when we get into SEC play we're going to see those kinds of receivers every week, but they have pretty special receivers and [Williams] made some plays for them," Arkansas defensive coordinator John Chavis said. "We wanted to get a bigger corner out there from time to time because of the length of their receivers."

No targeting

Arkansas safety Kamren Curl was flagged for targeting during an early fourth-quarter drive by the Rams after an 18-yard pass from K.J. Carta-Samuels to Olabisi Johnson.

The replay official overturned the call, determining that Curl led with his shoulder rather than with his helmet on the tackle of Johnson. The decision reversed what would have been a 15-yard penalty, kept Curl in the game and prevented him from missing the first half of Saturday's home game against North Texas.

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