1. QB Ty Storey and RB Rakeem Boyd seem to have emerged out of nowhere this season, having not done much at Arkansas before Chad Morris took over in Fayetteville. I’ll ask about their actual ability later, but were they highly anticipated players who the fans have been waiting to see on the field, or is their rise to prominence within the offense something that was unexpected? Similarly, has Morris unearthed some other players on the roster and gotten unexpected production from them?
Ty Storey definitely had hype coming out of high school, but the hype was squelched when he started getting passed up year after year. The little we did get to see him on the field last season did not give us very much hope for this year. However, you’re exactly right that he seems to be coming into his own now.
Rakeem Boyd was hyped mainly because of the Netflix series Last Chance U, and at the start of the season, we thought it was just that, hype. However, over the last few weeks, he’s starting to become the running back we all hoped we had.
2. Now onto that question about ability. Boyd is averaging 6.4 yards per carry this season and managed to surpass 100 yards on just 15 carries against Alabama. What’s his running style like? At 6’0 200 lbs, I assume he’s somewhat of a bruiser, but his long runs suggest something different.
Rakeem Boyd is filling the gap that we currently have in the running back decision. Once Rawleigh Williams III had to retire due to injuries, everything was put on Devwah Whaley. Now, Rakeem Boyd is helping filling in those voids. You’re exactly right that Boyd is somewhat of a bruiser. He’s not a shifty running back like we had with Alex Collins where he waits for the holes to open up. Instead, he tries to shoot through the gaps and hit the next gear. We haven’t had someone with that second gear in awhile, and Boyd might just be that running back.
3. Defensively, things haven’t gone as well for the Razorbacks (don’t worry ... we’re horrible at defense too). What’s the biggest problem on defense, and what’s the biggest strength?
Believe it or not, the defense was our shining light this season. John Chavis has really done a great job with our defense thus far. Chavis loves to create chaos with his defenses and you can tell with how the Razorback defense plays that they are always trying to strip the ball to get a turnover.
This is something that we haven’t had in Arkansas in years. If you cross out the Alabama game, our defense was putting up some pretty incredible numbers, but that was always overshadowed with how poor our offensive output was. The problem we still have with our defense is it seems to be we’re lacking fundamentals and we have huge brain farts at times. When you’re not the most athletic player on the field, you need to rely on fundamentals and technique. The “chaos” way of doing things sometimes takes precedent over that, which can be a roll of the dice at times.
4. Chad Morris was rumored to be a candidate for the Ole Miss open head coaching job, but we ultimately hired Matt Luke. How has Morris’ tenure been perceived by the Arkansas fanbase so far? Obviously, the results have been rough, but is he on a long leash based on the state of the program left by Bielema, or are losses to North Texas and Colorado State already driving fan sentiment towards the idea it was a bad hire?
When Chad Morris was hired, there was a lot of similarity to when Bielema was hired. Most people said “who’s that?” but then got more and more excited as they learned more about their past. I believe Chad Morris’s style was what Hog fans have been clamoring for after the Bielema approach of “we’re going to out-Alabama Alabama.” However, the losses to Colorado State and North Texas really put sour tastes in our mouth. Putting in Cole Kelly after interception after interception after interception in the North Texas game had fans calling into question his coaching philosophy with a resounding chorus of boos in the stands.
We all know it’s going to take some time, but some fans are tired of ALWAYS hearing that excuse. Half-way through the season, it seems we’re finally seeing progress with this team and that’s really all we want to see. Bielema only won 3 games his first season, however the team showed fight and grit in every game. This Chad Morris team is now showing that fight, so now I think he’s pulling people back on his side. This Ole Miss game in Little Rock is a huge game for this program.
5. What’s your prediction on the game? Give a score and how it gets there.
I’m a pessimist at heart with the Razorbacks. I love them, but they also burn me quite a bit. It’s easy to think we can beat any team after putting 30+ points against Alabama (don’t remind me what they scored on us). However, I’m in a wait-and-see mindset.
Our special teams are capable of giving up touchdown after touchdown, so that immediately makes me doubt we can get a win. However, our offense finally seems to be getting on the right page and making strides with our playmakers. Besides the Alabama game, our defense has not been that big of a worry. Little Rock is known to have magical games and devastating losses.
My feeling is this one could go either way, but since this is going up on Red Cup Rebellion, I have to pull for the Hogs. Let’s go 38-31 Razorbacks.