Razorbacks report: Response from Hogs pleasing to Morris

By Bob Holt and Tom Murphy

FAYETTEVILLE – University of Arkansas Coach Chad Morris was stoked with how the Razorbacks responded to the disappointment of losing 34-27 at Colorado State in fall-from-ahead fashion.

Morris contrasted the Razorbacks’ work at Tuesday’s practice with the previous week.

“Yeah, last Tuesday compared to this Tuesday was night and day difference,” Morris said. "The guys were definitely locked in a lot more. That happens every time we’ve asked them to respond through camp or whether it was spring ball.

“Starting Sunday, they came out with a different edge. These kids care, and they understand for this program to move forward we’re gonna have to learn and sometimes you learn through hard times.”

Morris described Tuesday’s practice as a really good day.

“I loved our focus, and the energy level from when those guys walked out of that locker room, even with stretch and flex,” Morris said. “It was definitely on a different level. You felt a different vibe with this team. That’s what you ask for.”

Personnel update

Chad Morris said Wednesday it looks like defensive end Randy Ramsey, and offensive linemen Colton Jackson and Shane Clenin are closer to participating Saturday than linebacker Dre Greenlaw and defensive end Dorian Gerald.

Greenlaw and Gerald are rehabbing from ankle injuries they suffered in the season opener that kept them out of last week’s 34-27 loss at Colorado State.

Ramsey (hamstring), Jackson (back) and Clenin (ankle) are all making strides that have them close to ready.

Greenlaw was dressed in a green (limited contact) jersey Wednesday, while Ramsey was not in sight during the first four periods after working in green Tuesday.

“Randy Ramsey worked out [Tuesday], and we anticipate him being able to play,” Morris said. "We’ll see how today goes. Dorian Gerald will be very questionable right now.

“Colton Jackson, we’re anticipating Colton to possibly get in there and play a few series and see how it goes. He got in [Tuesday] full speed and full contact and did a great job. Just trying to get his legs back underneath him. That’s the biggest challenge for Colton right now.”

Morris said Jackson did some scout team work Tuesday and that Greenlaw is day to day.

Senior defensive back Kevin Richardson is getting closer to returning after surgery to repair a broken foot in late July. Morris said he was doubtful Richardson would be ready this week.

Green dings

Unlike the Razorbacks, North Texas has kept injuries to a minimum through the early part of the season, but the one spot the Mean Green have suffered some nicks has been on the offensive line.

Starting left tackle Jordan Murray, a 6-9, 323-pound senior, is expected to play Saturday after missing the rout of Incarnate Word with a shoulder injury. Redshirt junior center Sosaia Mose, a 6-2, 301-pounder, is also expected to return after being injured in practice last week and sitting out the 58-16 victory over Incarnate Word.

QB update

Sophomore Cole Kelley was working with the first unit during the early part of Wednesday’s work, perhaps indicating he has the edge to start over junior Ty Storey on Saturday against North Texas.

Chad Morris said he had not made a decision on the starting quarterback as of Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s still a work in progress,” Morris said. “You keep thinking one is going to separate above the other, and it just hasn’t happened. We’ll continue to challenge them.”

Kelley and Storey have alternated starts through two games, with the backup outperforming the starter in each game.

Storey came off the bench against Eastern Illinois to go 12-of-17 passing for 261 yards and 3 touchdowns for an efficiency rating of 257.8 that ranked second in the nation after the opening weekend. But he struggled to deliver passes on time at Colorado State, going 5 of 13 for 36 yards with 2 interceptions.

Kelley completed 9 of 12 for 92 yards with 1 touchdown as the starter in the opener, then came off the bench to lead two quick touchdown drives while going 6 of 9 for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns in the loss to Colorado State.

Zone surprise

The Arkansas defense got off the field repeatedly on third downs in the first half at Colorado State. The Rams had three three-and-outs in the first half, one four-and-out series and converted 2 of 8 third-down plays.

Arkansas defensive coordinator John Chavis threw a wrinkle at Colorado State in the half.

“We got them in enough third-and-long situations, and … we did really well early,” Chavis said. "Every one of those third downs, they had man-beaters called.

“Guess what? We didn’t play very much man. That’s why we were able to get off the field early and get some big stops that we got early in the game.”

Colorado State had two more three-and-outs and committed a turnover to open the second half before scoring on its final four possessions and finishing 6 of 15 (40 percent) on third-down conversions.

Ten OL cheer

The return to practice by Colton Jackson and Shane Clenin in attire other than green caution jerseys Tuesday marked a milestone for the Razorbacks, Chad Morris said.

“[Tuesday] was our very first day since I’ve been here that we had 10 scholarship offensive linemen to be able to have practice and be able to have that rotation, which was really encouraging and exciting to see,” Morris said.

The unit has dealt with injuries to Jackson, Clenin, Dylan Hays, Dalton Wagner and Ryan Winkel in camp and through the first two games.

Missing Michigan

Arkansas Coach Chad Morris missed out on playing Michigan at both his new and old jobs this year.

SMU, where Morris coached the past three years, plays at Michigan on Saturday.

Arkansas had been scheduled to play its 2018 opener at Michigan on Sept. 1 – Morris’ first game as the Razorbacks’ coach – but the Wolverines paid the UA $2 million to buy out the home-and-home series with Arkansas so they could schedule Notre Dame.

Still waiting

Senior Jared Cornelius has 79 career catches, but he’s been shut out through two games after returning from an Achilles injury. Additionally, De’Vion Warren, who also plays the slot behind Cornelius, has not caught a pass.

Offensive coordinator Joe Craddock said Cornelius was targeted in the first quarter last week but had trouble getting separation from defenders.

“I thought Jared could have done a little bit better of a job on his route, but we had what we wanted there,” Craddock said. “We game planned it up, both safeties out, one of our better receivers on their mike linebacker and … we’ve got to execute that play when we get in that situation.”