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Morris finishes his staff

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Photographs by Andy Shupe

Arkansas assistant coach John Scott Jr. speaks to his players Tuesday, March 28, 2017, during spring practice at the UA practice facility in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Razorbacks football Coach Chad Morris announced his defensive assistants Wednesday, completing his first staff on the Hill.

Joining defensive coordinator and linebackers coach John Chavis, who was officially announced Tuesday, are defensive line coaches Steve Caldwell and John Scott Jr., and defensive backs coaches Ron Cooper and Mark Smith.

Caldwell, who coached with Chavis for 14 seasons at Tennessee (1995-2008), is starting his second stint with the Razorbacks after serving as defensive ends coach from 2010-2012. He's an Arkansas State University alumnus from Thayer, Mo., who spent the past four seasons with Coach Bryan Harsin at Boise State.

Scott, a native of Greer, S.C., and a four-year letterman at Western Carolina, joined the Arkansas staff as defensive line coach in 2016 after spending two years with the New York Jets as a quality control defensive coach and then a defensive line assistant.

Cooper will coach the safeties and Smith, who served as recruiting coordinator and a defensive analyst for Morris at SMU, will handle the cornerbacks.

Cooper worked with Chavis last year at Texas A&M. The native of Huntsville, Ala., has 30 years of coaching experience, including 10 as a head coach at Eastern Michigan, Louisville and Alabama A&M. Cooper was a four-year letterman at Jacksonville (Ala.) State, where he earned an undergraduate degree in 1983.

Smith, a native of Abilene, Texas, has degrees from Hardin-Simmons and Texas-Arlington. He has served as defensive quality control coach at Oklahoma, worked in the Texas high school ranks for six years and has served as president of the North Texas Football Coaches Association.

'Hole in the wind'

A veteran columnist asked Chad Morris what he thought about the color "anthracite," which has became a limited-use choice in Arkansas' game-day ensemble over the past several years.

"Well, when you start looking at uniforms ... it goes back to our filter in everything we do, and it's about recruiting," Morris said. "I'm 49 years old and unfortunately 49-year-old people don't play at the University of Arkansas. It's about 18-year-olds.

"So maybe if I had an 18-year-old and ask what he thinks about anthracite and this guy can run a hole in the wind and he likes anthracite and he can catch everything thrown at him and tackle everything that comes around, I like anthracite, too. If he doesn't like anthracite, I don't like anthracite."

Head to head

Chad Morris is 1-0 in head-to-head meetings against new University of Arkansas, Fayetteville defensive coordinator John Chavis. Morris was in his second season as offensive coordinator at Clemson in 2012 when his team beat the LSU squad with Chavis as defensive coordinator by a score of 25-24 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta.

Clemson trailed 24-13 in the fourth quarter before rallying to win on Chandler Catanzaro's 37-yard field goal as time expired.

Clemson ran 100 plays in the game compared to 48 for LSU and outgained the bayou Tigers 445-219 in total yards.

Yoga time

Trumain Carroll, Arkansas' new strength and conditioning coach, said the players will do yoga exercises as part of their training.

Marc Soltis, an assistant strength and conditioning coach who worked with Carroll at SMU, is a certified yoga instructor.

"We're going to implement things like that to make sure that our guys are refreshed, they're healthy, and the bottom line is they have to be full speed come Saturday," Carroll said. "Because if we run them and grind them in the dirt Monday through Friday, they have nothing left for Saturday."

Carroll said he's seen the benefits of yoga in helping players recover.

"A lot of people bring in yoga instructors and have them outsourced," he said. "Unfortunately, we didn't have the budget to do that at SMU, so [Soltis] went out and got the yoga certification and it has done wonders for us as far as having our guys fresh for Saturday.

"We can't give you all of our secrets, but that's a big one and Coach Morris is big on it, so we're big on it."

Burns staying

Tanner Burns is returning for his fifth season at Arkansas as quality control coach for special teams, Chad Morris said.

"Tanner and I have talked in depth about what I'm wanting to do with special teams and how I want to structure it," Morris said. "So it will come out of Tanner's office."

Morris said the assistant coaches will share on-field special teams duties.

Rest of class

Chad Morris said he expected to sign between six and eight players in the final signing period starting Feb. 7.

"We've got to address some needs at offensive line [and] some of our secondary and D-ends," Morris said. "Again, you're always looking for great football players. If there's a great football player out there, regardless of the position, we want those guys."

Talent on hand

Chad Morris and coordinators John Chavis and Joe Craddock said the returning roster gives the new coaching staff a strong nucleus of talent to begin building.

"We actually had a couple of staff meetings over the last few days after coach Craddock and coach Chavis had been able to evaluate both sides of the ball," Morris said. "I asked more of what they saw in general and we're excited. We're very excited. They played a lot of young guys."

Said Chavis, "When you start looking at the personnel, there's some really good talent here at Arkansas. There's no question about that.

"Is there talent to win 14 games? There wasn't this past year, but eventually there will be."

Sports on 01/11/2018

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