After this week’s announcement of the coaching staff for new Arkansas coach Chad Morris, the obvious thoughts turn to defensive coordinator John Chavis. While some are apprehensive about the hire, it’s a slam dunk for Arkansas.
Chavis is the most renowned defensive play-caller to walk through the doors for the Razorbacks in the past decade. His credentials alone should get people jacked up on Mountain Dew for next season.
A lot of people will counter with the “What have you done for me lately?” argument from his last stop at Texas A&M, which was less than stellar. But that doesn’t mean “The Chief” has lost his touch. He took a team ranked dead last in total defense in the SEC when he got there to about middle of the pack in three seasons, and that can’t go unnoticed.
In 2017, Texas A&M led the SEC in sacks (43) and ranked fourth in the league in tackles for loss (89). The Aggies never finished lower than third in sacks in his three-season tenure; that stat alone should comfort Arkansas fans because the Hogs routinely struggled to create consistent pressure during the past four seasons. In the past two seasons, Arkansas had a combined 44 sacks – one more than the Aggies had in 2017.
Fans shouldn’t expect an overnight miracle, but I would be shocked if this defense isn’t more fundamentally sound and making more plays behind the line this fall. Chavis knows how to motivate and get the best out of his guys. To say that the game has passed him by or that he can’t recruit or develop at his age (61) is ridiculous. NFL players ripened and plucked from the Chavis tree tend to not only be starters but hang around the league longer than expected.
Arkansas’ defensive roster has experience and talent at all three levels. That means he’ll be leaning heavily on defensive lineman McTelvin “Sosa” Agim, linebackers Dre Greenlaw and De’Jon Harris, safety Santos Ramirez and cornerback Ryan Pulley to lead the charge.
The cupboard isn’t all that bare for Chavis, but it will take some tweaking and retooling to get these playmakers and others in the right spots.
All in all, there were a multitude of reasons why it didn’t work for Chavis in Aggieland. But he seems as confident as ever and ready to prove that old dogs can learn new tricks.
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