By Otis Kirk
Arkansas coach Chad Morris is readying for his second season at Arkansas.
The Razorbacks just completed spring ball and now many of the assistants are on the road recruiting. Morris talked about where he thinks the Razorbacks are at following spring.
“We’re a much improved football team,” Morris said. “We’re better in all areas and that’s been good to see. I thought what you saw we’ve been saying all spring long. Some of our young guys really stepping up and making plays.
“But overall, I’m very pleased where we’re at. We’ve got a long way to go. I’ve said that. It’s important to what we do for the summer. You know, the goal of spring was not to be ready for fall. The goal of spring was to get this football team ready to go for summer. Then summer is to get them transitioning to that fourth quarter and into fall camp. So we’ve got a long way to go, but again, as I said, what a difference a year makes.”
Arkansas was 2-10 in Morris’ first season. He and his staff have recruited well in the two classes they have brought in. So the improvement is obviously there, but what would a successful 2019 season be as far as record is concerned?
That is open to opinion since everyone doesn’t define success the same way. The thinking in this column is that a 6-6 season would be a successful one.
Some will scoff at that and insist Arkansas needs to win more than six games to be successful. Remember this is a program that has had six wins in the past two seasons. And in 2017, when Bret Bielema was still the coach, that team was very fortunate to win four games. It took T.J. Hammonds having a career day to beat Coastal Carolina and Connor Limpert kicked the game-winning field goal on the last play of the Ole Miss game. That team could have just as easily only won two games.
If Arkansas can go from two to six or more wins this season then in my opinion that is successful year. The six wins would qualify them for a bowl game and a chance at not just the seventh win, but several bowl practices which is a huge benefit to any team.
Six or more wins will show the recruits the program is moving in the right direction and should allow this staff to continue to wow observers with the prospects they reel in. Arkansas went 3-9 and 0-8 in SEC play under Bielema in 2013. That squad improved to 6-6 in Bielema’s second season and topped it off with a “borderline erotic” win over Texas in the Texas Bowl thus getting to seven victories. That was viewed, and rightfully so, as improvement for Bielema’s program.
Winning six games or even more won’t be easy in 2019, but it’s possible. One thing that would help Arkansas as much as anything in 2019 is win the four non-conference games. In 2014, Bielema helped lead the Hogs to wins over Nicholls, UAB, Northern Illinois and an impressive road victory over Texas Tech. Arkansas then beat LSU and Ole Miss in back-to-back weeks in the SEC to get to six wins.
This fall, the Razorbacks need to down Colorado State, Portland State, San Jose State and Western Kentucky. All four come to Fayetteville. Winning those four games will put the Razorbacks in a position to go to a bowl game if they can win two or more games in the SEC.
The bowl game Arkansas goes to isn’t important this year. Just any bowl would mean they won at least six games, matching the two previous seasons combined, and then the practices leading up to the game would be like an extra spring.