FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas Coach Chad Morris was impressed with the first day of practice and with the 110 participants
A question did come up if it was fair to say there was some players who didn’t buy in last year. Morris addressed that.
The perception is that you had players that didn’t buy in last season. Is that a fair assessment and can you quantify how much this team may be buying in?
“I don’t want to go back to last year,” Morris said. “The guys last year, those guys, they didn’t ask for a coaching change. And change is hard when you have been recruited to a certain style and you are recruited by certain coaches, gone through a couple of coordinators, couple or two or three strength coaches, that’s tough. That’s tough on a young man.
“When we came in, we brought a whole different style, style of training, style of offense, style of defense and when that happens and you have got an older player, they have gone through a lot of change. So it is really hard to sit and go, ‘I have got four months left, here I go again.’
“I really don’t think that anybody said ‘I am not buying in.’ I don’t think from the time we got here to the time we got into the season that there was enough time to build a relationship and a trust to have a complete buy in. I don’t think that is just for this football team, I think that goes across to changes when you coaching changes all across at all levels.
“We have been together now for 18 months,” Morris said. “They know exactly what we expect, they know how we train, they know what our standard is and there is no doubt in my mind that this football team is obviously more full capacity than we were a year ago.
“You would expect that and I expected that when I stepped out on the field. You see it, you feel it. I feel it. I walked in today and I felt it. Coming back in, I feel it. These guys are ready, Our culture has never been stronger and we have got to do the things in college football that everybody is doing, but we have got to do them better. It’s the little things.”
Several players from last year’s squad left the team following the season. Whatever happened in 2018, Morris sees a different atmosphere in 2019.
“Let me tell you how exciting it is to get back out there on that football field with these guys,” Morris said. “You could just feel the energy and the excitement. You’ve been feeling it around the office for probably about the last 10 days. When these guys came back out here yesterday and had our big weigh-in, the overall atmosphere starting last night with our big team meeting and going through our expectations was different. A lot more comfortable. I think you saw that with a coaching staff today. Everybody was more comfortable in our environment and players understanding exactly what we’re asking them. A lot of great energy.
“Guys are really, really excited to be back around each other and around our staff and ready to get this season kicked off. A lot of excitement and a lot of new faces and new numbers and obviously that new energy that’s out there. I’m excited. I thought we had a really good Day One. And [today] we’ll get back out here and have another Day One. That is the challenge of this football team to keep that energy and that attack mode 100 percent of the time when they step across that red line that that’s what they’re doing. I’m excited coming out of Day One and the quick turn and back out on the practice field in the morning and we’ll continue to strain them as they do in fall camp.”
Arkansas will practice at 10:05 a.m. today and then Media Day will be from 2:15-3:15 Saturday afternoon.