It hasn’t been the season that Chad Morris envisioned in his first year at Arkansas.
The Razorbacks are just 2-8 overall and remain winless in the Southeastern Conference at 0-6. Although Arkansas has come up short, the Hogs have been competitive with four of their losses coming by seven points or less.
The most recent came last weekend as Arkansas dropped a 24-17 decision at home to LSU.
“I think our team continues to fight and play extremely hard all the way up to the very end,” Morris said. “It was evident again this past Saturday night versus LSU.
‘That says a lot ...’
“We were down 24-3 and were able to battle back and cut the lead to one score with five minutes remaining. That says a lot about our program moving forward.”
Morris is hoping he and the Razorbacks can put it all together this weekend at No. 25 Mississippi State. It is Arkansas’ first true road game since losing 34-3 at Auburn on Sept. 22.
Saturday will be Morris’ first experience with the infamous cowbells inside Davis Wade Stadium.
“I haven’t been there but I’ve heard about it,” Morris said. “I’m sure it’ll be loud.”
But crowd noise is far from the only worry Morris has about playing the Bulldogs. MSU has the top defense in the SEC allowing only 281.3 yards and 13.5 points per game.
“They are extremely fast and physical,” Morris said. “They’re athletic at all positions. This is the fastest overall – top to bottom – team defensively that we’ve seen. We’ve got to do a good job of sustaining blocks, make sure we’re picking up three- and four-yard gains when we do get an opportunity and mix up the run and the pass.”
Morris is also aware of Joe Moorhead’s reputation as an offensive play-caller, having been named the National Offensive Coordinator the past two seasons at Penn State before taking the head coaching job with the Bulldogs.
“He’s always been very innovative offensively everywhere that he’s been and it’s no different here,” Morris said. “You’re seeing some innovative quarterback runs and taking advantage of Nick (Fitzgerald), who sees it well and has a lot of snaps underneath him.”
Morris knows his defense will have its hands full trying to slow down Fitzgerald on the ground. The Hogs have had a hard time on that side of the ball giving up 407.5 yards and 32.7 points per game.
“A lot of (Fitzgerald’s) runs are on RPOs and they’re downhill,” Morris said. “They run a lot of power and a lot of counter with him and he’s very efficient.
“When he has to throw the ball, he’s very effective and does some really good things there and does a good job protecting the football.”