2. Chad Morris, Arkansas
Chad Morris was a curious hire for the Hogs last year.
He had just one okay 7-5 season in his three years at SMU, and he appeared to be an uninspired choice compared to Texas A&M’s hire of Jimbo Fisher or Mississippi State’s grab of Joe Moorhead.
But the former Clemson offensive coordinator has a terrific offensive mind and he knows how to get an O going. But he needs to prove he can coach a team that can stop someone, and that didn’t happen all that often at SMU.
Last year’s team was a complete and utter disaster defensively, allowing 34 points or more eight times in blowout loss after blowout loss. Worse yet, the offense didn’t work.
Arkansas isn’t going to crank out an Alabama-caliber defense over the course of one offseason, but seven starters return, and 12 of the top 16 tacklers are back. The D should be a wee bit better. The other side of the ball is the reason to get fired up.
The addition of grad transfer quarterbacks Nick Starkel (Texas A&M) and Ben Hicks (SMU) bring a big-time upgrade at the position. Almost all of the top receivers return, the running backs are there, and as long as the line comes together in a hurry, the attack should be more consistent.
After going 2-10, with Portland State, Colorado State, San Jose State and WKU all at home, the win total should at least double. With the improved offense, watch out for the Morris team to be just fun-bad enough to outbomb its way to a few more wins to get bowl eligible.