By Nate Allen
Special to the News-Times
FAYETTEVILLE - A new head coach, his new staff and their new offensive and defensive schemes unveil today in the Arkansas Razorbacks’ start of spring football practice.
Today’s mandatory first day not in full pads commences the Razorbacks’ 15 spring practice dates that new coach Chad Morris, will spread through an April 9 last practice following the annual Red-White intrasquad game scheduled April 7 for War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock because of ongoing north end zone reconstruction at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Replacing Bret Bielema as Arkansas’ head coach, Morris, previously the head coach at SMU gaining collegiate fame as Clemson’s offensive coordinator after being a 16-year successful high school coach in Texas, Morris brings offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Joe Craddock, offensive line coach Dustin Fry, running backs coach Jeff Traylor, receivers coach Justin Stepp and strength coach Trumaine Carroll from SMU.
From Texas A&M, Morris hired SEC legendary defensive coordinator/linebackers coach John Chavis, most successful at Tennessee and LSU, with Morris and Chavis hiring Steve Caldwell, Chavis’ longtime defensive end coach at Tennessee and Arkansas’ former defensive ends coach under Bobby Petrino and John L. Smith, to coach defensive ends.
Ron Cooper, also on previous Chavis’ staffs, will coach the secondary assisted by Mark Smith, the 10th coach on the newly NCAA approved 10-man staffs also serving as the Razorbacks on the field recruiting coordinator.
From the Bielema staff, Morris retained only tight ends coach Barry Lunney and defensive line coach John Scott from the Bielema staff.
Lunney continues coaching tight ends while Scott now coaches defensive tackles.
Offensively, Morris and Craddock move the Razorbacks from the power-oriented I-formation that Bielema preferred to a spread offense, though still run-oriented using tight ends and some two-back formations.
Defensively, after Bielema last year shifted the Razorbacks from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4, Morris and Chavis are returning the Razorbacks to the 4-3, always Chavis’ base defense at Tennessee, LSU and Texas A&M.
While some players on experience like sophomore quarterback Cole Kelley, offensive linemen Hjalte Froholdt and Dumas’ Johnny Gibson and 2017 injury hardshipped receiver Jared Cornelius on offense and on defense linebackers Scoota Harris and Dre Greenlaw and defensive end Sosa Agim of Hope among others, open spring drills as incumbents, all positions indeed start wide open with a new staff evaluating new players in new schemes.