If there was anyone who still had an open mind about Chad Morris within a 50-mile radius of the University of Arkansas, it would be me. After Clemson’s putrid offensive showing which featured two missed field goals, two red zone turnovers and an ugly 28-7 opening week loss to Duke, that number might be zero.
It’s my first year on the beat; I’m a Houston native and did not suffer through Morris’ Arkansas tenure. It should also be noted that Duke is a program on the rise and is coming off a nine-win season and Blue Devils head coach Mike Elko should get all the credit in the world for what they pulled off.
This was supposed to be Morris’ redemption arc; he went back to where he had the most success from 2011-14, when Clemson went 42-11 in his four seasons under Dabo Swinney. Morris served as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach with Tajh Boyd as quarterback.
The Downfall of Chad Morris
In his seven college football seasons since then, Morris has been associated with college teams that have accumulated just 25 wins (Morris spent the 2021 season in the high school ranks). The time period in question, which spans across four programs (SMU, Arkansas, Auburn and South Florida), produced a combined winning percentage of .308.
Not that Hog fans need any reminding, but now seems like the perfect time to rehash just how terrible Morris was. Morris’ 4-18 record was tied for the worst in SEC history and the only one to not include a conference win.
He also had a 2-4 record against Group of 5 opponents and had the same number of total wins as Group of 5 losses.
Now just one week into his second stint back with Dabo Swinney in a volunteer position at Clemson, things have already gone awry. His official title is “Special Assistant to the Head Coach,” otherwise known as an offensive analyst. I don’t know what Morris was “analyzing,” but whatever it was, it sure didn’t work on the field.
That wasn’t all his fault. After all, highly touted offensive coordinator Garrett Riley (USC head coach Lincoln Riley’s brother) was the one calling the plays in Swinney’s system.
A Laugh for Arkansas Football Fans
Now, if you’re looking for the ultimate bit of irony, the way Clemson performed against Duke sure looks like an extrapolation of Arkansas’ 2019 season in which it finished 2-10. Quarterback Cade Klubnik’s opening week 109.6 QBR rating looks ominously similar to Nick Starkel’s 109.4 for the 2019 campaign.
The Tigers certainly shot themselves in the foot with three turnovers, including two deep in the red zone, which was again eerily reminiscent of the 2019 campaign where Arkansas committed 26 turnovers in just 12 games, good for last in the SEC.
It’s just one game, though, and no one is claiming that the 2023 Clemson Tigers are going to be as bad as the 2019 Hogs. The probability isn’t zero that Clemson just fixes everything and makes the College Football Playoff and the whole season gets made into a 30 for 30 documentary, but the last time an old friend brought Morris on to help him with his offense, he got fired.
The old cliche is if you do the same thing over and over again and expect different results, it’s insanity. Whether it’s bad coaching or just an incredible run of bad fortune, Morris is now on his fourth program since his moderate success at SMU.
At every stop since then, he’s either gotten himself fired or, even worse, come off the top rope and left the rest of the staff in shambles. The once offensive guru has hampered every offense he has touched. Given how vague Morris’ title is, maybe head coach Dabo Swinney ought to find something else for Morris to do. Every coach needs a coffee runner, and if Morris is expecting any sympathy from Hog fans given the state he left the program in, tough luck.
If anything, whatever happens from here, Razorback nation will always have Clemson football’s loss to Duke to point to for a maniacal laugh.
Check out what Sam Pittman had to say about Arkansas football’s upcoming game vs. Kent State:
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