Yeah, it’s late. Yeah, it’s Friday. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to give you some information straight from the horse’s (hog’s) mouth. Read about Arkansas from those that know them best — Arkansas Fight!
A loss to San Jose State, and a touchdown win over Portland State... this season isn’t shaping up much better than the past couple for Arkansas. In a nutshell, what are the biggest issues on this team?
Well, that’s a great question. Something different seems to break every week. Consistency at QB is a big issue, as we have yet to name a true starter. Hicks and Starkel have essentially played hot potato throughout the season, and that hurts us. Bad offensive line play and a super young secondary have been weaknesses as well. Lastly, there seem to be baffling coaching decisions at least once a week.
Chad Morris is one of Gus’ boys, and he might have been the best offensive coordinator in the country when he was at Clemson. What’s been his biggest hurdle in getting Arkansas back to form?
Going from ground and pound under Bret Bielema to a spread offense is a huge adjustment, and the cupboard was left pretty bare for Chad when he arrived. I honestly think time has been his biggest hurdle, as he needs to build up talent through recruiting which obviously takes years.
What’s the support like for Morris right now? How likely is it that Arkansas moves on from him at the end of the year? Who would be on your short list if a coaching search had to be done?
It’s not great. Losses to San Jose State will do that to you. I think he’ll get another year barring a loss to Western Kentucky (which isn’t out of the realm of possibility). I guess Eliah Drinkwitz at Appalachian State went to Arkansas Tech, so him maybe? I’d hate to think of a coaching search at the end of the year, all told.
Auburn coaches have always seemed to flirt with Arkansas in some regard. Whether that was real or just Jimmy Sexton angling for raises, let’s play what-if. How do you think Arkansas’ history changes if Gus Malzahn does go to Fayetteville after the 2017 season? Furthermore, what if Tommy Tuberville makes the move back in the early 2000s?
Immediately I’m sure there would be struggles. Gus would face a very similar problem of moving a ground and pound offense to a spread, while also battling with a lack of talent. To be candid, I don’t know that I think he’d have us nationally relevant. It’s WAY easier to recruit to Auburn than it is to Arkansas.
As for Tuberville, as funny as that is to think about, I’m not sure he would’ve done any differently than Houston Nutt. Nutt has his eccentricities and shortcomings, but I think I speak for all Arkansas fans when I say we long for averaging 8 wins a season.
One of our writers played with your OC Joe Craddock in high school. What does he bring to the table as a coordinator with Morris calling plays? Is there ever a plan for him to take over that role?
Craddock has been incredibly disappointing to me. There have been baffling play calls at crucial moments, and it seems sometimes as if he’s trying to be too cute for his own good.
He actually does call the plays, which makes me wonder if Morris has any desire to take back that control. I’d like to see that. If I had to place any bets on staff changes at the end of the year, I’d bet Craddock would be the first to go.
Ben Hicks and Nick Starkel have both played significant snaps this year. What should we be expecting at QB for the Hogs? With both guys being upperclassmen, what’s the plan for the future at quarterback?
Hicks and Starkel are both listed as QB1 on the depth chart for this game, and Morris has said he has no plans on announcing the starter before the game. Hicks has looked better in recent weeks with Starkel both hurt and forcing throws that result in bad interceptions. Hicks has been good at avoiding turnovers, but Starkel has more upside.
True freshman KJ Jefferson is waiting in the wings. He’s a Morris prototype quarterback, and a lot of fans are excited to see what he can do.
Are there any areas where the Razorbacks have a distinct advantage over Auburn in this game?
What’s your prediction for how this one turns out?
Arkansas-Auburn is split 9-11 over the last 20 meetings. Pretty even, right? Well each victory has come with a margin of victory average of 20. This series is rarely close.
Going back 20 years, from old to new, here are the results:
Hogs by 24
Aub by 2
Hogs by 25
Hogs by 21
Aub by 7
Aub by 28
Aub by 17
Hogs by 17
Aub by 2
Hogs by 3
Hogs by 21
Aub by 22
Hogs by 24
Hogs by 17
Aub by 18
Aub by 24
Hogs by 8
Aub by 53
Aub by 32
Aub by 31
I expect this one to be a blowout. I’d love it if it was us blowing Auburn out, but it’ll likely be Auburn scoring as many points as Gus desired.
Kickoff at 11 AM CST tomorrow morning! Let’s get bowl eligible and set things up for a huge meeting with LSU!