Thursday, January 11, 2018
By Nate Allen
Special to the News-Times
FAYETTEVILLE - By officially announcing his final four defensive coaches Wednesday, new Arkansas Razorbacks head football coach Chad Morris officially completed his 10-man full-time assistants staff.
Morris officially announced Wednesday what’s been known for awhile that Boise State defensive end coach Steve Caldwell, who was Arkansas’ defensive ends coach in 2010 and 2011 under Bobby Petrino and in 2012 under John L. Smith and with a 1995-2008 tenure at Tennessee coaching defensive ends under new Arkansas defensive coordinator/linebackers coach John Chavis, will coach the defensive ends.
John Scott, Arkansas’ 2017 defensive line coach under Bret Bielema who was retained by Morris, will coach the defensive tackles.
Ron Cooper, who coached the LSU secondary from 2009-2011 when Chavis was LSU’s defensive coordinator and the secondary for Chavis' defense at Texas A&M in 2017, will coach Arkansas’ secondary.
Cooper also brings experience as a head coach, having commanded Eastern Michigan (1993-1994), Louisville (1995-97), Alabama A&M (1998-2001) and eight games in 2016 as Florida International University’s interim head coach.
Completing the staff and assisting Cooper with the secondary is Mark Smith, who was the recruiting coordinator during Morris’ tenure at SMU.
Trumain Carroll, the strength and conditioning coach under Morris at SMU, was announced Tuesday as Arkansas’ new strength and conditioining coach.
On Tuesday, Morris officially announced Chavis, a veteran SEC defensive coordinator with stints at Tennessee, LSU and Texas A&M, would be Arkansas' new defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
Quarterbacks coach Joe Craddock, running backs coach/associate head coach Jeff Traylor, offensive line coach Dustin Fry, and receivers coach Justin Stepp will coach those same positions at Arkansas as they did at SMU.
Barry Lunney Jr., Arkansas’ tight ends coach since 2013, was additional duties with coaching the kickers, as will graduate assistant Tanner Burns.
Morris, Chavis, Craddock and Carroll all met with media for questions and answers at a Wednesday press conference.
Chavis said he likes the defensive staff assembled.
Obviously, he knows Cooper and Caldwell well, but said he also sees a good fit with Scott and Smith.
“I haven’t met anybody here at Arkansas that I haven’t been impressed with,” Chavis said. “I think that’s what coach Morris wants himself around with people that are going to be impressive and people that are going to embrace his vision. And that’s what you’ve got to do. If you can’t support it, then you don’t need to be a part of it. I'm excited personally to be a part of coach Morris' staff and be a part of the group that is gonna help him put Arkansas where it needs to be.”
Morris stated the objectives for the units that Chavis and Craddock, the offensive play-caller in 2016 and 2017 at SMU, and again set to call the majority of the Arkansas offensive plays, though Morris adds play-calling input.
“Defensively, what I was looking for was someone that was going to disrupt the quarterback, someone that was going to be aggressive and attacking, and someone that was going to be multiple,” Morris said. “To be able to get in and out of fronts and to be able to take the secondary and tie it into the fronts, the pressures, the movements that has to happen up front. And to be able to have the back end tie in with the front end is so much a part of it. And to have John's experience is very valuable.”
While known for the hurry-up no-huddle spread offenses he coordinated at Clemson for coach Dabo Swinney and at SMU, Morris stressed those were, and at Arkansas will be, physical, run the ball first with passing to balance it and not be dependent on finesse.
“Offensively, we want to run the football,” Morris said. “You'll hear us talk about that over and over. We're a two-back, run-oriented, play-action, shot football team. Much like defense, I want to be aggressive and I want to be very multiple.”
A former quarterback Middle Tennessee State, Craddock was asked about play-calling an offense that Morris gears first to the run.
“I'm a quarterback, I like to throw the ball,” Craddock said. “But I know we've got to run the football. We've got to be physical up front. There's no doubt about it in this league. I know you have to be able to run the football if you're going to survive. You can't drop back and throw the ball 50 or 60 times a game. It can't happen.”
Chavis said practicing against the offense that Morris dictates and Craddock coordinates can only improve the defense he coordinates.
“I know this offense will help with the physical on the defensive side of the football as we practice against them,” Chavis said. “I know that’s going to be a part of it because that’s who coach is. It’s not going to be where you can go out and there and play in T-shirts and shorts. It's going to be physical and that’s the way you’ve got to play to win in the SEC.”
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