Head coach: Chad Morris
Record at school: 2-10
Breaking it down
Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas
Stadlium: Razorback Stadium (72,000)
All-Time record: 715-504-40
Conference affiliation: SEC
Last conference title game appearance: 2006
Returning starters: 13 (6 offense, 5 defense, 2 special teams)
1. Nowhere to go but up: It’s not sure anybody was prepared for the disaster that was Arkansas football in 2018. Obviously Bret Bielema didn’t leave first-year coach Chad Morris much to work with and the results showed on the field. How bad was it? The Razorbacks won only two games – non-conference affairs vs. Eastern Illinois and Tulsa. And, they ended the season losing 52-6 against Mississippi State and 38-0 against Missouri
2. Can Morris fix the Hogs?: Arkansas fans certainly hope so. When he was at SMU, Morris took the Mustangs from a 1-11 team in 2013 to 7-5 and a bowl game in 2017. While last season was dismal, Morris said he, the coaches and players saw improvement. “While only us as coaches and players could see the success happening, through the defining of the culture, it was happening,” Morris said. “And we know that in year two as we move forward, that the successes that were happening in year one will show up on Saturdays.”
3. Who’s the quarterback?: transfers Ben Hicks and Nick Starkel were battling early in camp to take the reins. Hicks is a senior transfer from SMU where he threw for 2,582 yards and 19 touchdowns a year ago. He leaves as the Mustangs’ all-time leading passer. Starkel might be familiar to SEC fans as he is transferring in from Texas A&M where he played in four games last season and started five games in 2017. Morris calls both quarterbacks “fierce competitors.”
4. Returning to a grass field: Arkansas is ditching field turf for real grass this season, something that Morris is excited about. “You see just how immaculate a grass field looks and our grounds crew does such a tremendous job,” he said. “Knowing that in football there’s nothing better than a freshly cut grass field on a Saturday afternoon. It’s painted up. It’s got a pop to it. It’s got a smell to it. It’s football in its natural state.”
One of the best names in the SEC belongs to Arkansas linebacker Bumper Pool. A sophomore from Texas, Pool played in 10 games, including four starts. He finished with 29 tackles, including 10 against Vanderbilt and six against Missouri.
Cheer: Sept. 7 at Ole Miss. The Razorbacks head to Oxford in the second week of the season for their conference opener. It’s a chance to gauge how far they have come and how far they have to go against a team that is picked to finish toward the bottom of the West standings. An upset could spark them to a 4-0 start before hitting the meat of the schedule.
Jeer: Sept. 14 vs. Colorado State. In 2018, Colorado State upset Arkansas 34-27 and it proved to be a sign of things to come and the start of a six-game losing streak. A similar outcome this season could leave the Hogs reeling, especially if they don’t get that upset of Ole Miss.
5-7: Assuming Arkansas wins its four non-conference games, the Hogs would need only one SEC win to reach five wins. It’s likely that SEC win will come either against Ole Miss, Kentucky or Missouri.
Did you know?
Defensive coordinator John Chavis is in his second season at Arkansas and 25th season in the SEC. Arkansas is his fourth SEC stop, and he also has stints at Alabama A&M and Alabama State.
“We were 2-10 last year, If you go 2-10, why would you expect to be any better? I can’t be upset. You make the bed you lay in, and now it is time for us to get out of bed.”
— Senior defensive lineman McTelvin Agim
Arkansas 55, Eastern Illinois 20
Colorado State 34, Arkansas 27
North Texas 44, Arkansas 17
Auburn 34, Arkansas 3
Texas A&M 24, Arkansas 17
Alabama 65, Arkansas 31
Ole Miss 37, Arkansas 33
Arkansas 23, Tulsa 0
Vanderbilt 45, Arkansas 31
Mississippi State 52, Arkansas 6
Missouri 38, Arkansas 0
Aug. 31 Portland State
Sept. 7 at Ole Miss
Sept. 14 Colorado State
Sept 21 San Jose State
Oct 12 at Kentucky
Oct. 19 Auburn
Oct. 26 at Alabama
Nov. 2 Mississippi State
Nov. 9 Western Kentucky
Nov. 23 at LSU
Nov. 30 Missouri
— Gregg Dewalt