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Previewing Arkansas: The Razorbacks Offense

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Hoo, boy. Chad Morris has had a tough time in his first year.

NCAA Football: North Texas at Arkansas Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas head coach Chad Morris has a well-earned reputation as an offensive guru. After directing some explosive units at Clemson, he moved to SMU where he took a one-win team, that was among the most anemic in the nation offensively at barely 11 points a game, to a bowl in his third season while averaging nearly 38 per game. When Arkansas made the decision to move on from Bret Bielema, Morris was tabbed to bring some explosiveness to Fayetteville.

Unfortunately, the cupboard was left a tad bare and things haven’t gone so well.

In two games against SEC West foes Auburn and Texas A&M, Morris’ smashmouth spread scheme has averaged a putrid 264 yards and 10.0 points per contest. To be frank, it’s tough to envision a scenario where this group gets anything going against the Tide’s first unit on Saturday. Still, here are your names to watch:

Quarterback

#4 Ty Storey, RS JR

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Texas A&M Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Razorbacks had a QB competition that spilled over into the season, with redshirt junior Ty Storey “beating out” sophomore Cole Kelley. This was more a default situation since Kelley had seemingly won the job before losing it by throwing four interceptions in the North Texas debacle. In two games since taking over the reins, Storey has completed 47% of his passes and averaged a shade under six yards per attempt with one TD against two interceptions. Storey was a four-star recruit in the 2015 class and has some ability, but his banged up offensive line is among the worst in the country and mobility isn’t his strong suit. That combination has made for some long afternoons.

Running Backs

NCAA Football: Eastern Illinois at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Making matters even more difficult for the Razorbacks this weekend, star RB Devwah Whaley (above) is doubtful after missing last week’s game with a concussion. In his stead will be 6’0” 200 lb. sophomore Rakeem Boyd who has performed admirably, with 31 carries for 192 yards on the season. The Hogs have been behind early and often, so the running game has been something of an afterthought. T.J. Hammonds is a 5’10” change of pace guy and Chase Hayden provides some depth.

Pass Catchers

NCAA Football: Coastal Carolina at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas has had few standouts in this area, due in part to a talent deficiency but also the lack of time to throw the ball. Junior La’Michael Pettway (above) is the best of the bunch with 12 catches for 168 yards. He is a big target at 6’2” 219 lbs. and generally draws the attention of the defense. Sophomore Jordan Jones is next with 11/168 on the season, and nobody else in this group has reached double digits in receptions. Junior TE Cheyenne O’Grady had a breakout game against the Aggies last week, hauling in his first three receptions of the season for 77 yards, and freshman WR Michael Woods grabbed 2/50 and a TD.

Summary

When writing these previews there is always an effort to be as complimentary as possible to the opponent, but there is simply no way to sugarcoat this one. This group has been sad and dysfunctional, and unless the Tide defense simply fails to show up, they are unlikely to dent the scoreboard much on Saturday.