Chad Morris Pleased With Practices This Week, Talks 9-11

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Arkansas running back Rakeem Boyd runs for a big gain against Vanderbilt in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas is coming off a loss to Ole Miss and faces a tough test at home this week with Colorado State.

Chad Morris met with the media on Wednesday prior to practice and talked about how the team has looked thus far this week.

“Ready to get back out on the field today,” Morris said. “Had a good day yesterday and a great team meeting. Started it off recognizing 9-11 these young it’s a whole another generation. A lot of them weren’t born yet. So we spent some time talking and rolled our focus on into Colorado State. Had a really good day yesterday. Really good energy. One of our better Tuesdays and anticipate this being a great day as well.”

Morris talked about what he shared with the team concerning 9-11.

“We watched a video,” Morris said. “Just shared with them where we were. Everybody remembers where you were on that day. One of those life-changing moments and how it’s changed our world. As I shared with them there was no such thing as a clear backpacks then. Just the little things in life that have changed. So we had a discussion and talked about that. More importantly just showed the video of the families being recognized today.”

Morris shared where he was at that day as well.

“I was at school in Bay City getting ready to play Houston Lamar,” Morris said. “I just walked in. Actually been working on a game plan. He said have you seen this? I said no and he turned the TV on and I know exactly where I was.”

As far as the Colorado State game, Morris was asked if he feels the team has a lot riding on this game?

“We’ve got a lot of football left after this week,” Morris said. “A whole lot of football left. This is a very important football game as they all are this week. I think this sets the tone moving forward I really do.”

Since Colorado State won this game 34-27 last season in Fort Collins does Morris sense the team has revenge in mind for Saturday?

” I think more so than anything we didn’t execute like we wanted execute last week,” Morris said. “The mistakes that we made. Yes, that’s lingering in the minds of a lot of our guys that were on that team last year. But we’ve got a lot of young guys that weren’t part of that. I think it’s more so about how we play this week and how we played last week. Just improvement from Week 2 to Week 3.”

With junior Nick Starkel set to get his first start at Arkansas Morris was asked if he has seen anything different from the former Texas A&M quarterback?

“When you are named starter you have a different approach,” Morris said. “He’s had a great approach this whole camp and into the first couple of games in preparation. But when you are named the starter and you are actively involved and part of the game plan so yeah I have.”

How much does Nick say on what is called?

“We always talk to all our quarterbacks,” Morris said. “With him being the starter now we always communicate with the starter and ask him what he liked and what he saw? But as far as the install of the game plan and what we put in it’s what he’s comfortable with. Not necessarily what we’re comfortable with or what I’m comfortable with. It’s what he can do and execute. He’s been very active and very much a part of.”

Starkel said Tuesday night he liked to get hit. Morris offered up his thoughts on that.

“I don’t really like him getting hit, but I do think it’s part of his job to carry those fakes out and try to pull someone with him,” Starkel said.

Morris has noted several times there’s a fine line between being careless with the football having a killer instinct. Does Starkel have that?

“He does,” Morris said. “Again, he has played in this league. He’s won in this league and he understands what this league is about. He’s gonna make some mistakes as they all do. He has been in this offense for 3-4 weeks now. We saw some of those mistakes last week. He’ll continue to get better with time. He’s had a really good preparation in practice and I’m really excited for him and this opportunity for our offense and this team.”

Morris played three true freshmen at defensive end against Ole Miss and it could move to four this week. Mataio Soli, Zach Williams and Eric Gregory came in at midterm and then Collin Clay the first of summer.

“When you look at it, we had 13 guys come in at mid-term and you see those guys and how they are contributing on the defensive side of the ball, and even offensively with Trey Knox,” Morris said. “Those four to five months were valuable for them. From a strength standpoint, from a nutrition standpoint, even getting acclimated to college, I think that has been a big plus. I think you’re seeing the benefits of that with Mataio Soli and Zach Williams, we’re getting Eric Gregory back and Trey Knox. That is huge.”

Gregory was in line for extensive time seemingly before missing a few weeks with a high-ankle sprain in camp. Do you think he will he play this week?

“I do,” Morris said. “He worked out yesterday and did some really things. We kind of brought him along, he was ready last week but as far as in shape-wise, if we could get another week out of him that would be great and that’s what we did. I anticipate Eric playing, I do.”

How big of a plus is that?

“I think it provides depth in an area that we are already thin at,” Morris said. “You know, with Dorian and Jamario being out, it’s been an area that obviously we’ve had to put some freshman in there. Last week with freshmen on the road in the SEC, they are going to make some mistakes. Those guys made their fair share of mistakes, but man they played hard. We got a tremendous upside with these guys.”

Quick Hits:

*** Morris on Ricky Stromberg and Austin Capps, “We anticipate Austin being back. Ricky played really well. Really well. I anticipate that allowing us to create some depth. These guys are playing entirely too many snaps. You’d like to get a little bit off of them at some point during the game. With Austin being back, I think that provides those opportunities for us.”

*** Rakeem Boyd will be the offensive captain this week.

*** Arkansas will wear it’s red jerseys and white pants on Saturday.

*** Morris on Dorian Gerald, “He’s doing good. He’s doing well. Obviously he would love to be out here. He’s losing weight and I told him you can’t lose too much weight on me. He’s doing good. I talked to him yesterday.”

*** Morris on Knox taking hard hit against Ole Miss, “He worked through it on Sunday and worked through it a little bit yesterday. He’s still limping around a little bit, but he’ll be back and ready to go.”

*** Morris on Ty Clary’s improvement, “I think he has improved overall as just an all-round player. He took the experience he got last year. He took just his overall approach to how he approaches every game. He’s a much more mature player. You can see it. It started back in January and you can definitely tell that as he went through camp and now into the first couple of games.”

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