Insiders: Coaching Vs. Talent

Clay, Richard, Matt, and Dudley:

Want to hear you guys weigh in… when an SEC football team, any SEC team, loses to a bad Mountain West team and then gets boat raced at home by a Conference USA team you have a five alarm fire on your hands from a program standpoint. Arkansas, without question, is at present one of if not the worst P5 team in the country.

The question is why? How did this happen? How do you change the depressing status quo?

Some on this board ( me included) think Morris inherited a train wreck of a program from both a culture and talent standpoint. Kids conditioned to losing and severe talent deficiencies at most positions.

Another group contends Morris and staff are completely over their heads. The talent may not be the best, but they think it’s certainly better than the talent of the last two we played and we should be competitive in several SEC games if this staff was just competent which it obviously is not per this segment of the fanbase.

Well… who’s right? Both to some degree ? Neither? One or the other?

Given the program is arguably at its lowest point since Citadel a deep dive by you guys on why you think we are here and how we can possibly get out would be appreciated.

I really want to know what the Bielema was up to for 5 years for our talent to be this bad. The fact that we paid him 11MM dollars to leave us with this mess is flat out criminal!

What was he up to? TTB!! Theo’s, Tito’s, and Ben’s Apartment.






I’ve never bought into the spin that the reason we don’t win games is because we don’t have good players who have more stars from self-proclaimed recruiting experts, etc.

It’s a repeat every 5 years —- get a new coach, lose ugly the first year or two — we are told by everyone to “give him time, he’ll get it fixed, he just needs better players” — then the Coach wins a little but not enough and gets fired.


Now we are being strongly told that this has nothing to do with coaching — it’s these god-awful players that Bielema recruited — give the new man time — he’ll get this mess turned around.

But when you all who chatter non-stop that all the ills of Razroback football are simply about poor players and nothing more, you take it too far when you tell us that’s why we should accept and expect to get blown out by North Texas.

Buying into the theory and logic of all those who live and die by the recruiting rankings — being that those are absolute predictors of ultimate outcomes — well, all of these classes that are now being called “just awful” — every one of those classes outranked the recruiting classes of North Texas — in terms of the rankings it was not even close.

True the UA classes have been near the bottom of the SEC, but that still got them ranked somewhere in the top 40 — light years ahead of North Texas and Colorado State.

So I don’t have any patience for being told that it’s all about the recruiting rankings which explains why the Hogs don’t win more games in the S.E.C.

But then there’s a rout by North Texas and now those rankings don’t matter when the Hogs get blown out by a no-name team from nowhere —not a last second field goal or a TD — but an absolute annihilation by a rent-a-win program North Texas — now that has happened and we are told the rankings are wrong — that in fact the recruiting classes were even worse than the rankings. Pay no attention to the rankings now because it no longer fits their argument.

This is a horrible coaching staff plain and simple. A time out for a kick-off — lineman lining up in the backfield, etc, etc…that’s all about coaching.

I will agree that there is a lot of youth and inexperience, especially on the O line (and that’s never good) — and a talent gap — a talent gap with other S.E.C. Schools — not a talent gap with North Texas and Colorado State — but when you are getting blown out by North Texas — that’s coaching. And in terms of Colorado State and the blown lead — that’s coaching — you said it was when the Hogs blew big leads against Missouri and in the Belk Bowl — and it’s still coaching.

This team is realistically about to go 1-11 — and 0 for 8 in the S.E.C. Recruits are openly mocking and laughing at this team. So does anybody honestly believe that Chad Morris is going to be able to wave his magic Texas High School Recruiting wand and overcome a 1-11 season??? Really???

This football program is in shambles — and the powers that be put it there with their ill-fated coup last year that was built around the triumphant return of Gus Malzahn who in the end told them to take their job and shove it. Good job leaders.

This is not the University of Arkansas Football that Coach Broyles built. And I don’t know if we are going to see a re-emergence any time in the next 20 years.

By the way, anybody remember when Arkansas last only won 1 game during a football season?

Fact is with the exception of Toledo, Bielema beat the teams he was supposed to beat. HIs problem was in the S.E.C. — and most of those losses where close and often heartbreaking. We all agree he was not getting the job done in the S.E.C. But at least his teams did not lose, much less get blown out, in a rent-a-win game.

If coaching is totally the issue how do you explain Coach Morris and staff beating this N. Texas bunch 54-32 last year.

Did they forget how to coach ?

As for Colorado State that was an epic fail by the players and coaches.

This is a wonderful post that lays it out. Thanks for taking the time to sum it up so well.

Arkansas is off to a disappointing start to the Chad Morris era with a 1-2 start. The losses were to Colorado State and to North Texas. There was a disappointing finish in Fort Collins, a horrible start in Fayetteville.

So whats the problem: talent or coaching? As Lee Corso often says in his Saturday morning predictions, not so fast.

It’s not a simple answer. It’s like when someone asks a question that has an either or answer and you say “yes.”

There is some talent on the team. But there are some areas where there is such a limited amount that it is hard to see it. There have been some coaching mistakes, but there is transition to everything these coaches have installed. That’s tough to absorb in quick fashion. It can be done in a few practices with gaps in talent and experience.

Without question, the overall team speed with the team is lacking. The talent and numbers in the offensive line is very poor. The best of the offensive linemen is probably Hjalte Froholdt, a converted defensive tackle. He finally figured out offensive guard by the end of last year, now he’s being asked to figure out the most complex position on the field aside from quarterback and that’s center. And he is doing that after practicing at guard in the spring.

I don’t think there is any question that the O-line lacks talent. Worse, it lacks experience and also is in a new system.

Chad Morris said after the opener that the line played soft and too high. I don’t see that the problem has gone away.

Recruiting slipped and then you add a new system both offensive and defensively (for the third straight season) and things slow down. Fast players look slow.

I think the quarterback recruiting slipped under Bret Bielema. I think it’s interesting that both Brandon Allen and Austin Allen were routinely criticized by fans, but they played better than the current quarterbacks. This teach aches for one of them now.

Of course, Dan Enos picked quarterbacks and the requirement was that they be 6-4. Taylor Powell (6-1) wasn’t picked. And, clearly Mason Fine (5-11) wasn’t considered. Those were in the backyard, both Gatorade Players of the year (in Arkansas and Oklahoma) within an hour of campus. Jim Chaney picked Rafe Peavey and Ty Storey. Dan Enos picked Cole Kelley and Daulton Hyatt.

You can’t miss on quarterbacks. Fine is good enough. I think Powell is, too. He’s taken snaps for Missouri already this season and will likely be their quarterback next year after Drew Lock graduates. Powell was MVP of the Chad Morris camps two years ago. He wanted to play in the SEC, so he didn’t go to SMU.

You must recruit well in the defensive and offensive line. You must recruit well at QB. I think Chad Morris understands that. Bielema failed in those areas. That’s a big problem right now.

Thanks Clay … I agree with everything you posted.

If you want to rely on that to justify accepting and expecting to get blown out by North Texas, there is nothing I can say that will change your mind.

I read your posts — maybe not all of them because I’m not on here that often — at times I think you are spot-on, and other times I think you are incorrect.

On this issue I think you have made up your mind, and there is nothing anybody can say that will change your mind. I do not think our players are so bad that they should get routed by North Texas at home one week after blowing a lead against a Mountain West team.

If that awful showing against North Texas yesterday won’t change your mind about the coaching, I’m not sure anything ever will.

Last season I gathered that you despised Bielema (probably not personally of course) and you wanted him fired — and you were emphatic about that. You got that and a new coach — and here we go again, I suppose.

Even if we made the wrong hire, fact is we are going to have to suffer through this for 4 to 5 years. What we’ve seen so far to me is eerily similar to Jack Crowe. If that proves to be the case, hopefully the UA leadership will have the good sense to stop the bloodbath sooner and not later.

And then this entire cycle of “give him time, it’s not his fault, the players are not any good” will repeat all over again.

I wanted Bielema gone for a great many reasons. The main reason is he instilled a sloppy, weak minded, fragile culture. That, coupled with poor talent, means disaster.

As for the new coach he was not my choice and I still don’t understand why Norvell wasn’t hired. That said, he inherited a weak culture and a weak roster… dealt a bad hand.

I honestly don’t know if he’ll get it done or not, but the hole is so deep right now that it will b awhile before we can find out.

PS I predicted NT would thump us for the reasons I described above. They are simply better right now… much better.

I think both parties are right. We have enough talent to beat North Texas. Recruiting rankings can tell us that. But the talent hasn’t been coached. Bielema won with his predecessors recruits. I don’t think he did a great job of developing the talent. Now, we have new coaches telling the underdeveloped players to switch their techniques and playbooks. What did you think was going to happen? These players were going to become All-SEC caliber overnight like the flip of a switch? Tell me which players on this team have lived up to their star ranking. Ryan Pulley, Dejon Harris, Dre Greenlaw, and…

If CCM came in and immediately was able to get these kids to live up to their potential, we still would have only won between 5-7 games. Be patient and ask for progress. If progress doesn’t happen, then you can start freaking out.

I think its a combination of both as to why we look so bad.
When you don’t have the explosive talent at WR you have to run routes that will confuse the defense into making mistakes 3 wide and comination wheel routes,hide routes,these are routes that are hard for anybody to cover…
I think NE Patriots do an incredible job of this they rarely have blow by talent they just put the talent they have and find mismatches against LB that can’t cover them very simple approach and why they are so awesome.

I think what we have seen so far is us trying to make huge plays with people that can’t make them Pettway is probably 4.6 at best and yet we kept throwing into Double coverage. We hit Jones on a skinny post the 1st game for a huge play and haven’t thrown it sense!

Defensively we don’t have the players to play all the Man Chavis wants to run and a team like NT will kill you b/c they are going to throw those quick crossers that are next to impossible to cove man to man,we have to go to more Zone if we afre going to be succesful.we will have a better chance to cover Auburn b/c they don’t run the same routes,the problem with them will be stopping the run.

We have a long ways to go but if we tweak what were are doing we can be much more competitive IMO.

It would be nice if I could offer up a quick fix or a great assessment to the problems here.

Clay’s post handles the assessment.

I’ll take a shot at the fix - which is simply recruit better players, more speed, more mentally stronger individuals.

The former staff recruited well early - as evidenced by the players in the NFL - and didn’t recruit well late. Also missed out on key positions and that’s why depth is bad at several spots.

That is rearing its ugly head now.

It has to be a combination when you take losses like the last two.

Coaching mistakes have been made, but then again they have only a few options.

As I have said before, I don’t know whether Coach Morris and his staff will succeed here.

I don’t automatically think he is going to fail either.

He deserves the chance to recruit himself out of this - the 2019 class seems like a good step - but it also has to show steps forward sooner than later.

I always laugh a bit at those who don’t tell me about the lack of talent or say don’t tell me he is a good coach.

You have to consider everything, not just what people want to hear.

Some fans like myself have to face the fact that this team is swiss cheese. We have talent at some starting positions but numerous holes that would NOT start at other SEC teams (QB, OLine and WR come to mind). Our QB is behind an Oline that does not allow him enough time to find an open WR yet the WR’s are too weak to fight through press coverage to get open quickly.

We have very little depth that is GOOD or experienced. Take a look at LB and we have Dre and Scoota but there isn’t much depth behind them at a time when we are playing so many spread teams with HUNH. The back 4 on defense is fairly talented with Pulley followed by Ramirez Curl, Calloway but Curl and Calloway are sophomores. Then look at our back ups McClellion and Tutt who have played very little yet do have some talent. We are thin and green on Defense and let’s not even discuss where we would be if the light had not come on for Armon Watts on the interior Dline.

How do you turn around a team with so many HOLES and change the culture? CCM has seen the blueprint at Clemson and did his own thing at SMU to understand the HC role. I think we all thought we had more talent than we do but I don’t think ANY of us respect the GLUE that Austin Allen was for the Offense that made everyone look better. Add in the fact that Austin was so accurate and quick to read the defense that it looked like these WR’s would be ok. Cole Kelley became a cult favorite as 6-7 QB but he would not have seen the field much if Austin had not been battered by the matador OLine. Austin was affected mentally and physically so he chewed on some team mates and the Oline didn’t care for it much…but they deserved it at times.

The same Oline is worse this year and terribly impacting Cole and Ty. Ty can get away from the rush but not the rushers that fly past the matador Oline. Cole can’t get away from a rush or side step a rush so he is a sitting duck with this OLine. Cole nor Ty are good enough passers to make a secondary respect them. Cole is not a run threat so the defense keys on the RB. Now add in the fact that the WR’s are not getting separation quickly so the QB has to hold the ball for 2-3 more seconds to find an open receiver. There are few quickly open receivers/passes to get rid of the ball.

Cole came in and played while Austin was hurt but he was not much more than a passing arm on a 6-7 frame that was very slow. He didn’t take coaching when he threw into double coverage and was careless last year and he is still not taking coaching. Some fans are scared to accept it but sometimes players deserve some blame if they keep repeating the same mistakes and do NOT take coaching. Cole was STILL throwing into double coverage after half time.

This offense needs a mobile QB and even more so with the bad Oline. The only mobile QB on campus appears to be Connor Noland. We have to accept that this team is not going to win many games this year, so we might as well stop playing only with Cole and Ty. I say it is time to play Connor A LOT because his escapability is very good and enough to negate SOME of the weakness of the OLine. Connor has a presence at QB that Ty doesn’t have and a much better arm than I anticipated too.

“If coaching is totally the issue how do you explain Coach Morris and staff beating this N. Texas bunch 54-32 last year.”

Jackson, I think that can be answered with the North TX coach, Seth Littrell. This is his 3rd year as the head coach. He’s playing with primarily all his own recruits this year. He took the job in 2016 after N TX had gone 4/8 - 2/6, and 1/11 - 1/7 in 2014 and 2015. He has done an amazing job in these 2 years and 3 games since:

2016 - 5/8 - 3/5
2017 - 9/5- 7/1
2018 - 3/0 - to date

That’s improvements with a bullet. If he goes undefeated or with one loss this season, he’ll be the next hot D-1 head coaching prospect.

I think Arkansas has the players to be able to outscore Colorado State and North Texas. I say outscore because the defense is not good, so it will be up to the offense to win those games. But the offense has been pretty bad, too, and put the defense in some no-win situations with all the turnovers yesterday. I think North Texas had 31 points off turnovers. It’s hard to overcome that.

It has looked to me the last two weeks like the coaching staff has been stubborn offensively, and it’s not just by staying with a quarterback too long. The play calls have lacked imagination; it doesn’t look anything like the reputation that preceded it. I suspect part of that has to do with there not being a quarterback capable of doing the things they want and a bad offensive line, but because of that I thought we would see a lot more creativity getting the ball into playmakers’ hands via direct snaps, screens, the push pass like the one to Hammonds at Colorado State, etc.

I have a hard time writing off losses to Group of Five teams to a lack of players, especially ones like we’ve seen the last couple of weeks when Arkansas was outscored 69-17 over a little more than five quarters. Those typically point to poor coaching performances. There is no doubt Seth Littrell and his staff out-coached Chad Morris and his staff yesterday. Mike Bobo did the same in the fourth quarter the week before.

North Texas has almost all of its players back from last year. Its defense has 10 starters who are in their third year.

I agree he is going to be a hot HC prospect. Also, you make another good point. He’s playing with a veteran team that understands his system very well. He has a veteran QB operating proficiently in his system. Decided he was his guy as a true freshman, they took the hard lumps together, and now here they are.

Perhaps Noland began the hard lump process yesterday. Have to start sometime.

I don’t think you should judge a coach in his first year of a rebuild against coaches that are in their 3rd year of their system. I thought Petrino and Bret deserved passes for their first 2 years and I feel the same for CCM.

I agree we were completely out coached.

And our team played with very little emotion.

They seem to take on persona of their coaches.