Allow me to say I support the Chad Morris hire. I made it clear I thought BB deserved one more year. But once the die was cast, I also said “anyone but Leach and Kiffin.” I stand by that. And neither of those guys was hired. I celebrated, I admit. And, I do think Morris is a great hire. He seems to be a really good person. That’s important to me. He has energy and a certain charisma. Maybe not quite as charismatic in a press conference as Bret. But he is engaging in his own way. I agree with those that have said Chad reminds one a little of Houston. Whatever, I think being engaging—having charisma—is important at a place like Arkansas, which doesn’t “sell itself” on the recruiting trail. Broyles had oodles of charisma, and I don’t think anyone would argue he was our greatest coach. Most importantly, I think Chad’s recruiting ties are exactly what Arkansas needs. And, ultimately, what Bret probably lacked.
Arkansas will certainly look different under Chad. Who can say defensively what the true differences in style and scheme will be? Based on comments and perhaps on who Chad is considering as a DC, it will probably be more of an attacking style. That will make the fans happy. But production is needed, regardless of style. Increased talent. Jimmy’s and Joe’s. I certainly believe improvement on the defensive side of the ball is significantly more important than the offensive side of the ball. And it’s been that way for a good while.
Offensively, Chad has the reputation as an offensive guru. What he did at SMU is almost a miracle, and he deserves credit for that! But, SMU also plays in a totally different world in terms of the defensive talent they play against. I actually think looking at what Chad did at Clemson is more informative, and then comparing it to the Enos era at Arkansas. Here is a deep dive I did using sports-reference.com of the Morris vs. Enos eras. Granted, this shows nothing in terms of the differing styles….and I submit that STYLE means as much as substance to some Hog fans. In any case, here is the comparison:
Clemson under Morris
2011 Pass: 37.5 282.3 ypg
Rush 37.9 158.5 ypg
Run/pass ration 50/50
2012 Pass 36.5 321.6 ypg
Rush 45.2 191.1 ypg
Run/pass ration 55/45
2013 Pass 37.9 333.1 ypg
Rush 41.8 175 ypg
Run/pass ration 52/48
2014 Pass 34.7 261.8 ypg
Rush 41.5 146.5 ypg
Run/pass ratio 54/46
Cumulative Chad Morris era Clemson stats:
Pass 36.65 299.7 ypg 8.17 yards per attempt
Run 41.6 167.77 ypg 4.03 yards per attempt
Overall: 78.25 offensive snaps per game
467.47 yards per game
\t Yards per play – 5.97
Run/pass ratio 53/47
Arkansas under Enos
2015 Pass 28.8 268.2 ypg
Rush 39.3 198.3 ypg
2016 Pass 31.2 264.2 ypg
Rush 39.7 164.4 ypg
2017 Pass 28.3 . 205.4 ypg
Rush 38.5 168 ypg
Cumulative Dan Enos era Arkansas stats
Pass 29.43 245.93 ypg 8.35 yards per attempt
Rush 39.1 176.9 ypg 4.5 yards per attempt
Overall: 68.53 offensive snaps per game
422.83 yards per game
Yards per play – 6.17
Run pass ratio 57/43
A few things jump out. You hear the word “wide-open” associated with Chad’s offense—and with great enthusiasm at that. “We’re gonna be WIDE-OPEN” I keep hearing. Well, first, what does “wide-open” mean anyway? Lots of wide-outs? Lots of motion? The scheme will definitely be different. Pro style versus read option, Gus Malzahn-influenced modern day Delaware wing-T. Preferred personnel will change.
But the substance won’t be as different as some might think.
Clemson under Chad had a run/pass ratio of 53/47, versus 57/43 in Enos’ offense. That’s a whopping 4% difference in the run/pass ratio. Yet, hearing the “we’re gonna be WIDE-OPEN” narrative one would think it would be a bigger difference. Nope. Further, the actual yards per attempt is better with Enos’ Hog offense. In fact, the Enos offenses have a better overall yards per play average, and the Morris offense produced only 50 yards a game more, despite having 10 more snaps a game. (Yes, the playing fast issue will be a huge difference. No doubt).
So, I think it’s important that Hog fans understand that while the style will be different, the percentage of passing isn’t just going to spike, and the production probably won’t be staggeringly better. Now, one can certainly point out this statistical analysis doesn’t account for POINTS per game. But points per game depends on field position, defense and kicking game performance, and of course Red Zone efficiency (not in this breakdown I admit….because it wasn’t easy to find). And, when you score fast, the other team gets the ball back fast. So they have more chances too.
I include all of this to make a couple of points. 1. Morris does lead very good offenses. No question. But the Enos offenses were not miles and miles inferior as the fan perception would lead one to believe. The run/pass ratio isn’t just going to flip. The Air Raid isn’t coming to the Hill. The Enos offenses, especially in the first 2 years, were actually quite comparable. 2. The biggest difference between Clemson and their rise versus Arkansas is on the OTHER SIDE of the ball. THAT will tell the tale if you ask me. And that is hopefully where Chad’s recruiting ties will help the most. Clemson developed a far better, nastier defense than the Hogs have had probably since the 80’s. Maybe even before that. Certainly, the last defense we had comperable to the Clemson defense of last year was the Dan Hampton led 1977-78 unit. We also had a great defense with Billy Ray and Steve Atwater etc. in the 80’s. But the point is DEFENSE has been lacking. Not offense.
Yet, fan hope seems to center around our new “wide-open” offense. I think that’s misplaced. We will have a good offense. But we also had one in 2 of the 3 Enos years. My hope is that Chad and his new DC will shore up the defense. At least over time. THEN we may see the Hog football program become what we all desire.