FAYETTEVILLE — A new head coach, his new staff and their new offensive and defensive schemes unveil Thursday in the Arkansas Razorbacks’ start of spring football practice.
Thursday's mandatory first day in shorts commences the Razorbacks’ 15 spring practice dates that new coach Chad Morri, will spread through an April 9 last practice after the annual Red-White intrasquad game. That is 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, previously the head coach at SMU gaining collegiate fame as Clemson’s offensive coordinator after being a 16-years successful high school coach in Texas, Morris from SMU 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 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' recruiting coordinator.
From the Bielema staff, Morris retained only tight ends coach Barry Lunney and defensive line coach 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 2-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 injury-hardshipped receiver Jared Cornelius on offense and and on defense linebackers Scoota Harris and Dre Greenlaw, and defensive end Sosa Agim of Hope. Others will open spring drills as incumbents, all positions indeed start wide open with a new staff evaluating new players in new schemes.