What Chad Morris, coordinators said previewing Colorado State

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: Monday, September 9, 2019
Chad Morris, Arkansas head coach, oversees warmups before the game vs Ole Miss Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.
Photo by Ben Goff
Chad Morris, Arkansas head coach, oversees warmups before the game vs Ole Miss Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.

Depth chart notes

• Nick Starkel is listed as the starting quarterback this week on the updated depth chart.

• True freshman Ricky Stromberg is down as the starter at left guard. Austin Capps (left foot) is second team. I spotted Capps walking into Walker Pavilion following the press conferences, and he was not wearing a walking boot.

• Jamario Bell is not on the depth chart. Gabe Richardson, who had a nice game Saturday, is slated to start at one end and Mataio Soli on the other. Zach Williams and Collin Clay are the backups at each position.

Arkansas coach Chad Morris

• We made entirely too many mistakes and had too many inopportune penalties. Missed too many tackles, too. Offensively we were poor on first-down efficiency. We didn't match Ole Miss' physicality on the inside or on the edge. We all have to get better. We have to put them in a position to play fast.

• We scored on defense and grabbed some momentum, but the unit was on the field too much. Way too many missed tackles, more than I can remember in the past. Special teams, we didn't do anything special to impact the game. Treylon Burks had a pair of promising punt returns.

• We have to respond. That's what it's about. It starts with me, and we have to have a response. We know we're going to get Colorado State's best shot. They have a lot of experience coming back, but it's more about us and how we play instead of who we play.

• Nick Starkel will be the starter on Saturday, Morris said. It wasn't so much what Ben Hicks did or didn't do, but what Nick did. He will start against Colorado State.

• Don't expect Jamario Bell to be back this week. Gabe Richardson and I have talked about leading those young guys and showing them the way. You can talk to them about what it's like on the road in the SEC, but you don't know until you do it. The older players did their job relaying things to them. Mataio Soli is powerful and is going to have a good career. Collin Clay is a force.

• On the mistakes Saturday: The ball Starkel threw to Mike Woods was supposed to go to the right to Treylon Burks. He threw the ball left and Woods lost 14 yards. We made a mistake on it. If Starkel goes right, Cheyenne O'Grady is wide open down the middle of the field. On the negated touchdown, Burks was lined up on the line of scrimmage. It was one of the three costly penalties in the game.

• De'Vion Warren did get hurt Saturday and was struggling with his hand. He was back out at practice last night. We hope to have Austin Capps back out Tuesday. He was not able to go last night. Think we'll have him back playing Saturday.

• Ricky Stromberg played really well. He made some mistakes and we missed a call late in the game that allowed penetration that led to a TFL. But he played really well, and I'm excited about him.

• On Connor Limpert and the kicking game: He's been very reliable for this team and program and there's no indication he won't continue to be that way moving forward.

• On Colorado State: Much improved from a year ago. They have guys playing extremely well, and they scored a lot of points in Week 1 against Colorado. Very physical up front on both lines. We're going to have to come in and match their physicality. It's about us, and that's our focus on how we're going to respond this week.

• On Starkel and the offense Saturday: The ball came out of his hand quick, which helped with pass protection. There was one sack where he didn't have a chance to get the ball away. The ball came out of his hand quick. You kind of saw Ole Miss back off a little bit and gave us some underneath stuff that we hit.

• Looking at the CSU roster, we recruited several of those guys when we were at SMU. Their coaches do a great job recruiting to their footprint using the relationships they have.

• We want to see more rotation in our secondary. With our defense out there as long as they are, we have to do a better job substituting.

• On the running game outside of Rakeem Boyd: We're bringing A'Montae Spivey along. He's going to be a great talent, but he has to be comfortable in what we're asking of him. With Chase Hayden and Devwah Whaley, there's some creases there at times, but we have to hit it. We're going to need all of these guys, and we have to make sure they're ready to go. We have to stay the course with them.

• You can only travel 70 on the road, and we've got to bring our freshmen along. Hudson Henry, who did not travel Saturday, he just wasn't ready at this point.

• CSU is doing a good job moving offensive personnel around. Receivers are playing well for them. That's helped them out in the first two games.

• Hicks and Starkel handled the news like pros. I told Ben it wasn't so much what he did or didn't do, but what Nick did. He provided a spark.

Defensive coordinator John Chavis

• Not pleased with how we played Saturday. Too many mistakes. We didn't get off the field on third down, and we only had three three-and-outs, and that's not good enough. Fundamentally, from a standpoint of tackling, it wasn't good enough.

• Fatigue didn't play a factor in the fourth quarter. We get off the field a couple more times and time of possession would be in our favor. We missed tackles on the sideline, and if we don't do that then we're getting off the field. It gets down to coaching, and we have to do a great job of that. We have good enough players to win with. It gets down to fundamentals and coaching that.

• We did a poor job supporting some of the speed stuff Ole Miss showed. We played four true freshmen, and we're not going to make excuses for that. I thought they did a good job. Are they SEC ready right now? Yeah, they are, because they're going to play. They're going to get better this week and they got better over the course of last week, too.

• "I can't talk about officiating,"Chavis said of Jarques McClellion's pass interference Saturday. "I'm not wealthy enough to pay that fine."

• We didn't play Collin Clay in the first game, and now he's got to get a bunch of his first reps in the SEC opener. We have to get young guys in the game to get game experience. You can practice and practice, but nothing beats experience.

• CSU's offense: They've got their QB back. He should have been the starter last year, but he got hurt, I think. I think he messed his knee up playing basketball and missed most of the season. He's an NFL quarterback, there's no doubt about that. They have guys who can get on the edge and get down the field in a hurry.

• We see speed in the SEC all the time. Hopefully our pass rush will continue to grow. You can't always do it all with coverage. We have to get the QB off his spot. Coach Mike Bobo does a tremendous job coaching quarterbacks. If he's comfortable, he can make the throws.

• Ole Miss didn't show us much that we weren't expecting. I think the guys will be motivated this week, and the coaches will be the same way. You don't have to say much to the guys after a loss like Saturday.

Offensive coordinator Joe Craddock

• We felt like we needed a spark in the second half, and Starkel gave us that. He was able to make some nice throws. Ben played OK and missed some throws, including Devwah down the middle. That was big. Those are things we have to hit. The one to Devwah would have tied the game. Nick gave us a little spark, and it's his turn.

• On running game: We have to be more consistent up front and make holes for those guys. Rakeem is running with more confidence than those other guys. Biggest thing is just to get Devwah and Chase more confident. We have to get them more reps in practice and bring A'Montae along, too.

• We've thrown that double-pass play a long time. Every other time we've worked it the ball has gone to Treylon Burks. It was one of those things that everyone makes mistakes. We always take a few specials in. They're kind of feast or famine. It's stuff we've got to clean up. We have to do some of those things to create big plays and explosive plays.

• Really proud of Stromberg. He earned playing time in fall camp. You earn it in practice. It didn't really phase him that he was going to start at Ole Miss. He graded out as the second best OL last week. We're hoping to get Capps back this week. He seems to be getting better.

• We wanted Rakeem at 5.5-6 yards deep in the wildcat formation. We had a missed assignment up front when he got dropped for a big loss. We've worked two other guys back there, but didn't get a chance to send them out for it. He didn't want to say who the other two players were.

• Getting off to better starts is a big emphasis. We were in 2nd and long quite a bit and we were solid there, but that's not a place we want to be. We didn't win first down in the first half. Putting some points on the board early is big moving forward.

• I'm down because we lost, but I'm encouraged by what some of these young guys are doing. We always talk about a couple of plays making a difference in the course of the game.

• CSU's defensive line is "thick legged" and they are senior- and junior-driven up front. They mix and match in the secondary. They're much improved, flying around and playing hard. It's going to be a good challenge for us.

• Last year, I don't remember the time left, but we had a 27-9 lead. We weren't able to put it away on offense. They're coming to our place now, and we've got to protect home field. We say all the time the only team that can beat us is us when we don't make mistakes.

• We'll feel it out at the quarterback position when asked if Hicks would play. We have to clean up some mistakes. Nick is only a couple of months into the system. He'll be fine. He'll be all right. ... Treylon owned up to his mistake on the negated touchdown pass. He said, 'This is one me.' I saw it from the press box, but it's something you want your quarterback to see on the field.

• On Koilan Jackson: Very pleased with him. Caught his first touchdown pass. I called him out in the team meeting and congratulated him for it. He ran good routes, did some good things. Hopefully we can get him in there more this week.

• On Trey Knox: I'm very encouraged with the young guys we've got. They're going to be good players. It's good those guys are getting good experience. The bright lights weren't too big for Trey and Treylon. Trey was our player of the game, and again, if we don't cover him up then he has his first TD grab and a really big day. He's gaining valuable experience in the SEC, especially on the road.

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