Razorbacks report:

Morris laments short field

By: Bob Holt , Tom Murphy
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Cole Kelley, Arkansas quarterback, throws the ball before taking a hit from LaDarius Hamilton, North Texas defensive end, in the 2nd quarter Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Cole Kelley, Arkansas quarterback, throws the ball before taking a hit from LaDarius Hamilton, North Texas defensive end, in the 2nd quarter Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas' six turnovers affected every part of Saturday's 44-17 loss to North Texas, from field position to the scoreboard to the number of possessions for the visiting Mean Green.

"They had 20 drives, which is incredible when you consider you usually average somewhere around 14 to 17 possessions a game," Arkansas Coach Chad Morris said.

Morris opened his Monday news conference by citing some of the statistics from the stunning nonconference loss.

"The field position was such a major issue," said Morris, adding that Arkansas' average starting position was its 20 for the game and its 16 in the second half.

By contrast, North Texas' average starting position was its 43.

"Defensively, we had to work off the short field, the sudden change," Morris said. "It seemed like they were on sudden-change alert most of the day."

Morris added that North Texas opened eight drives inside the Arkansas 50-yard line and three more started near midfield.

"So 11 of their 20 drives, they had to go less than 60 yards," he said. "It's hard to beat anybody when you give someone a short field like that."

No doubts

Arkansas defensive coordinator John Chavis said Monday the Razorbacks have to tackle better and must cut down on the number of explosive plays allowed.

North Texas had eight plays that accounted for 221 yards, seven of them passes.

"We haven't played our best football yet, and that's ahead of us," Chavis said. "To make that happen, we all have to stay focused, we all have to stay together, and we all have to believe in one another. You don't get it done unless you do that.

"And certainly, I can guarantee you this: Doubt has not creeped into my mind. It never will. It never will. I'm going to work. I'm going to get on the field. I'm going to do my job, and we're going to get the best 11 guys on the field to represent this Arkansas football team."

Personnel report

Starting linebacker Dre Greenlaw and reserve defensive end Dorian Gerald, who are both recovering from ankle injuries, will be day to day this week as Arkansas prepares for Auburn, Coach Chad Morris said Monday. Both of the defensive players did some running in Sunday evening's practice.

Receiver and lead kickoff return man De'Vion Warren, who missed last week's game with an apparent ankle injury, was back at work Sunday and is expected to play. The same cannot be said for his replacement Gary Cross, who injured an ankle against North Texas and is doubtful.

The status of cornerback Chevin Calloway, who sat out last week for personal reasons, is still up in the air. Morris said the coaching staff is trying to help Calloway work through personal family issues.

A starting cornerback the first two games, Calloway was working at nickel back last Tuesday.

Asked whether Calloway would be back this week, Morris said: "I don't know. We'll wait and see on that."

Tube talk

Arkansas' game against Texas A&M on Sept. 29 in Arlington, Texas, will kick off at 11 a.m. and be broadcast on ESPN, the league office announced Monday.

It will mark the first morning kickoff of the season for the Razorbacks, who will have alternated 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. kickoff times through their first four games.

O-line shakeup

Auburn has started the same five offensive linemen in its first three games, but that could change against Arkansas.

Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey said a shakeup on the line might be in store after Auburn gained 328 yards in a 22-21 loss to LSU.

"We're still evaluating all that," Lindsey said. "We'll see how the week plays out. We've definitely got some things on our mind hopefully, maybe that can generate some momentum. At the same time, we've got to play better as a unit."

Auburn's starting line has been left tackle Prince Tega Wanogho Jr., left guard Marquel Harrell, center Kaleb Kim, right guard Mike Horton and right tackle Jack Driscoll.

Lindsey said two redshirt freshmen -- center Nick Brahms and guard Austin Troxell -- could figure into the mix against Arkansas.

"I think you always have to look for ways to improve your team," Lindsey said. "If a guy at any position -- whether it's quarterback or offensive line -- is not getting it done, you have to do something to ignite your team."

'Fine' words

Arkansas safety Santos Ramirez had strong praise for North Texas quarterback Mason Fine, who played with great composure Saturday. Fine completed 24 of 45 passes for 281 yards and 1 touchdown and was sacked just once. He scrambled out of pressure, threw well on the run and threw away several passes when the rush was reaching him.

"Mason Fine is a great player," Ramirez said. "He's a great quarterback. I really respect his game. I felt like they did a great job preparing for us. I feel like he knew where he wanted to go with the ball before the play started. I couldn't give him enough credit."

Fine entered the game as the nation's leading passer at 431 yards per game. The junior dropped to third with an average of 381 passing yards per game, behind Washington State's Gardner Minshew II (401.0) and Texas Tech's Alan Bowman (386.7).

Thanks fans

Senior center Hjalte Froholdt thanked the Arkansas fans who stayed through the second half of the North Texas game.

"Those are the guys that really follow us and support us all the way through," Froholdt said. "The score was not what we wanted it to be, of course. I'm happy for all the people that stayed and kept cheering on and have our back even in the worst of times, which is right now."

Steele: Unacceptable

Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said it was unacceptable for LSU to generate enough offense to beat Auburn 22-21 on Saturday when Cole Tracey hit a 42-yard field goal on the final play.

"Very disappointing loss," Steele said Sunday night. "Frustrating. Really unacceptable for our standards.

"In terms of the play, it starts and ends with me. I'm responsible for making sure that people don't come and score 22 points on the Jordan-Hare field, and they did.

"So, you have to look at everything. All options are on the table in terms of making sure we get corrected what needs to be corrected in a fast way. We've got good players. They play hard. Probably, I'd say, 90 percent of those snaps, as you grade the film, are really good football."

Pick report

The Razorbacks' six thrown interceptions in Saturday's 44-17 loss to North Texas were two short of the school record, but the most ever thrown in a home game.

Arkansas threw eight interceptions in a 47-7 loss at SMU in 1951. The Razorbacks last threw six interceptions in a game during a 10-7 loss at Texas A&M on Nov. 4, 1972.

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