Razorbacks’ Morris earns praise from colleagues

Clemson DC Venables says Morris ‘as good as there is’ in the business

By Bart Pohlman

Arkansas officially introduced Chad Morris as its new head football coach Thursday, marking the beginning of a new era for the Razorbacks.

Morris comes to Arkansas after three seasons at SMU, where he inherited a program that went 1-11 in the year prior to his arrival. He guided the program through a turnaround, finishing 7-5 in 2017—just the program’s fifth winning season since resuming football in 1989 following the NCAA death penalty.

At SMU, Morris inherited an offense that ranked last (128th) in the FBS in scoring in 2014 (11.8 points per game), and turned it into the nation’s eighth-highest scoring offense (40.1) in 2017. The Mustangs were one just two FBS teams this season that featured a 3,000-yard passer, 1000-yard rusher and multiple 1,000-yard receivers.

Prior to his time at SMU, Morris spent four seasons as Clemson’s offensive coordinator under Dabo Swinney, and helped transform the Tiger offense into the power you see today. While at Clemson, Morris recruited and signed Deshaun Watson and Shaq Lawson, also developed a pair of gifted NFL receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins.

If what those who know him from his time at Clemson have said is any indication, the Razorbacks could be in for a treat.

“Chad (Morris) is as good as there is in the business,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said in an interview on Sports Talk. “He’s a great person, a great human being. Kids love to play for him, he’s an outside-the-box thinker, and a tremendous football coach.”

Clemson co-offensive coordinator—and 2017 Broyles Award winner—Tony Elliott said he learned a lot from his time working under Morris.

“He taught me a lot,” Elliott said. “He showed me what tempo is all about, why tempo is important in the system that we run. He coaches with unbelievable intensity and effort. The players love playing for him.”

In a statement to the university, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said, I am incredibly happy for Chad Morris and his wife Paula. It has been fun to see someone who coaches here blossom in his career. He did a phenomenal job in his four years at Clemson and it has been exciting to see what he has done at SMU.

“I believe he will be a great fit at Arkansas and I am excited to see what he will do with that program.”