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Chad Morris is familiar with the Arkansas Razorbacks. That much is clear after he spent almost two years as the program’s head coach from 2018-19. Things didn’t end well for Morris in Fayetteville, however.
After a 4-18 record, he was relieved of his duties and ultimately landed as Auburn’s offensive coordinator during the offseason. But that does not mean Morris has forgotten about how things ended with the Razorbacks.
Quite the opposite, actually.
“I would say it’s definitely personal for (Morris),” starting Auburn center Nick Brahms said earlier this week, according to the Princeton Daily Clarion. “Nobody takes him for granted, because he’s a great person and a great man and a great coach. This is his former team that he coached for, so we’re going to play hard for him.”
Having your players willing to go the extra mile for you is great, but will it be enough? Through two games, the Tigers offense hasn’t been overly impressive outside the second half of the Week 1 game against a vulnerable Kentucky defense.
Against Georgia, Auburn struggled on both sides of the football, but the offense was particularly ineffective. The offensive line struggled to move people in the run game and keep quarterback Bo Nix upright, the receivers struggled with a few key drops and Nix was a liability.
That has to change against a surprisingly decent Arkansas team that just pulled off its first SEC win last Saturday since prior to Morris’ tenure. It was a 21-14 upset against Mississippi State. The defense, in particular, played well against a Mike Leach offense that looked near unstoppable against LSU’s rebuilding defense the week before.
K.J. Costello, who set conference records in Week 1, only averaged 5.3 yards per attempt while tossing three interceptions to only one touchdown.
In other words, this is an Arkansas defense that is capable of causing Morris, Nix and the rest of the Auburn offense problems.
Morris has to get more creative in how he attacks opposing defenses. Schematically, the 51-year old hasn’t put players in the best position to succeed, which SEC Network analyst Jordan Rodgers put on display during a tweet on Thursday.
A MICROCOSM of AUBURN's BIGGEST OFFENSIVE PROBLEMS ALL IN ONE PLAY…
🚨Deep dive here, buckle up Football Junkies🚨 pic.twitter.com/qPIH0AV3Kq
— Jordan Rodgers (@JRodgers11) October 9, 2020
At the same time, Morris can’t overthink this game either. He can’t allow himself — or those around him — to be overcome with pressure. It’s an important game is a fantastic bounce-back opportunity for Morris and the Tigers, but it’s a game that should be won.
If you’re Morris, trust the playmakers around Nix. Give Nix more scripted runs to get early momentum and give him confidence. And trust your players to give just a little bit more in order to get a win against a quality opponent.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.