More about just QBS at SEC Me­dia Day

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Nate Allen Ra­zor­backs Re­port

FAYET­TEVILLE - Me­dia at ev­ery col­lege foot­ball me­dia day in­quire coaches about their quar­ter­backs.

Cer­tainly that proved no ex­cep­tion for the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs at their

Wednesday morn­ing por­tion of the SEC Me­dia Days that be­gan Mon­day and con­clude to­day in Hoover, Alabama.

But even as sec­ond-year Arkansas Coach Mor­ris ad­dressed the im­por­tance of grad­u­ate trans­fer quar­ter­backs, Ben Hicks, Mor­ris’ 2016 and 2017 start­ing quar­ter­back at SMU trans­ferred to the UA last Jan­uary with this 2019 el­i­gi­bil­ity re­main­ing, and Nick Starkel, trans­ferred this sum­mer from Texas A&M with two sea­sons of Ra­zor­backs el­i­gi­bil­ity, Mor­ris spoke first of re­cruit­ing depth in the

of­fen­sive and de­fense lines as es­sen­tial to re­cover from the morass of last sea­son’ 2-10 2018 that in­cluded 0-8 in the SEC.

“This is a line-of-scrim­mage league,” Mor­ris, the ul­tra­suc­cess­ful high coach in Texas who pre­vi­ously head coached at SMU in the Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence af­ter first coach­ing in col­lege as of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor at Tulsa and Clem­son, said Wednesday. “And if you don’t have the depth on both sides of the ball, you’ve got some is­sues late in the year. Be­cause in­juries are go­ing to happen. You had bet­ter have that depth.”

They didn’t have it in 2018 with the O-line num­bers in­herited from the Bret Bielema regime.

The 2019 O-line num­bers will be up even with 2018 start­ing line­men Hjalte Fro­holdt, Johnny Gib­son and Brian Wallace grad­u­ated.

“We played with eight schol­ar­ship of­fen­sive line­men the en­tire year last year,” Mor­ris said. “We signed six of­fen­sive line­men and are ex­pect­ing some of those guys to con­trib­ute (im­me­di­ately). My­ron Cunningham be­ing one of them.”

Cunningham, a ju­nior­col­lege trans­fer en­rolled at the UA last Jan­uary, im­me­di­ately im­pacted in spring practice at both guard and tackle.

Cunningham’s ver­sa­til­ity is a key. For Mor­ris, of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Joe Crad­dock and of­fen­sive line coach Dustin Fry vow re­gard­less of what ap­pears to their as­signed po­si­tion, they will cross train to get the “best five” on the start­ing O-line.

The num­bers are bet­ter on the D-line but Mor­ris said they still weren’t enough, par­tic­u­larly with him and de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor John “Chief” Chavis knowing tackle and Hope High grad Mctelvin “Sosa” Agim, who nearly turned pro af­ter last sea­son, and fel­low start­ing tackle T.J. Smith, and cur­rent start­ing de­fen­sive ends Do­rian Ger­ald and Gabe Richard­son all are se­niors.

“In­creas­ing that depth there al­lows us to put some pieces in place,” Mor­ris said.

While laud­ing se­nior tight end Cheyenne “C.J” O’grady and in­com­ing fresh­man tight end Hud­son Henry and re­turn­ing run­ning backs Ra­keem Boyd, Wha­ley and Chase Hay­den, Mor­ris ac­knowl­edged lack of big, fast re­ceivers get­ting open ham­pered last sea­son’s since trans­ferred quar­ter­backs Ty Storey and Cole Kelley.

So tall 4-star fresh­men wide­outs Trey Knox, Trey­lon Burks and Shamar Nash were signed.

“We had to ad­dress size and speed at that wide re­ceiver po­si­tion and bring in guys that are go­ing to have to play this year,” Mor­ris said. “We did that. I’m ex­cited about the re­ceivers com­ing in.”

Mor­ris also vol­un­teered the im­me­di­ate im­pact ex­pected of for­mer Van­der­bilt punter Sam Loy, trans­fer­ring with im­me­di­ate el­i­gi­bil­ity af­ter red­shirt­ing last year trans­ferred to Colorado.

“Punt­ing was a weak­ness,” Mor­ris said. “Be­cause of that, we went out and brought in an ex­pe­ri­enced punter.”

How about that quar­ter­back com­pe­ti­tion be­tween Hicks and Starkel while in­com­ing fresh­man KJ Jef­fer­son pre­sum­ably ap­pren­tices at the out­set.

“We’re ex­cited about our quar­ter­back bat­tle that we have with the ad­di­tion of

Ben Hicks and Nick Starkel,” Mor­ris said. “It will be an in­ter­est­ing bat­tle as we go into fall camp.”

Na­tive Texan Mor­ris of course is fa­mil­iar with Hicks of Waco, Texas, whom he signed in 2015 and red­shirted at SMU then was his two-year starter and took im­me­di­ate com­mand of the Ra­zor­backs last spring, but says he’s also fa­mil­iar with Starkel of Ar­gyle, Texas, re­cruited through­out Texas and the Southwest.

“I had re­cruited Nick out of high school and know what kind of arm he has and his ex­pe­ri­ence in the fact that he’s grad­u­ated with two years left,” Mor­ris said.

Mor­ris called Starkel’s arm “elec­tric.”

He also said Hicks, 5-7 and 7-6 as Mor­ris’ SMU starter af­ter red­shirt­ing while rookie coach Mor­ris’ 2015 Mus­tangs 2-10 , started chang­ing the Ra­zor­backs cul­ture last win­ter.

“He’s been a quar­ter­back of a foot­ball team that went 2-10,” Mor­ris said. “And he’s also dug a team out of be­ing in that po­si­tion be­fore. So he un­der­stands what our cul­ture is about and stay­ing con­sis­tent. His lead­er­ship has been in­valu­able.”

Courier file photo

Arkansas Head Coach Chad Mor­ris speaks to me­dia.

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