State of the Hogs: Dan Enos

Dan Enos keeps priorities in order. One of them is a plan to keep things fun for his new offensive players at Arkansas.

It’s a blend of the old, with a heavy dose of the new, as introduced by new Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos.

That’s the take of players after the early days of spring football drills. But more than that, the descriptions of the calls may not be as important as the description of their new play caller.

Everyone in the Fred W. Smith Center talks about Enos in glowing terms. He’s interested in the players as people, as much as football players. He wants them to have fun. He is pure energy and enthusiasm. He’s about doing things the right way, not just his way.

It makes a difference to players who still recall Bobby Petrino and enjoy upbeat and fun more than sarcastic barbs. And, they are learning that simple can mean fast. The other assistant coaches see brilliance in the simplicity and a touch of Petrino’s concepts in the passing game that could include three and four wide receivers spread around the perimeter, not jammed against a tight end.

There is stuff on that from the players down below, but first it’s good to get to know Enos, the former head coach at Central Michigan with a long history with Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio and a touch of Craig Bohl, the former head coach at North Dakota State.

Enos was with Dantonio when things began at Cincinnati in 2004 and before that was along for Bohl’s first year at North Dakota State in 2003. Of course, there were Xs and Os lessons from those brilliant coaches, but it was more the way both treated everyone else that may be why Arkansas players are enjoying Enos so much after just six weeks on the UA campus.

“What I learned from Mark, and really Craig, was that you keep your priorities in order,” Enos said. “They were both very bright. They cared about people. I saw quickly that Mark was about faith and family first.

“One of the things Mark always told us, doing right is sometimes the hardest thing. He was very demanding in that we did it the right way, made the right decisions. Yes, I learned Xs and Os and how to practice. But I learned the right way to live life. Mark showed me how to be a husband and father.

“I didn’t really know either one of those guys when I went to work for them. But it’s clear why they have been successful. It’s things about how to treat people that I learned.”

How does it translate to the Razorbacks? Enos believes first and foremost that the game of football is just that, a game. It must be played with a fun spirit and attitude. There is work involved, but it better be about fun.

Enos and players were asked if there was a catch word or phrase from Enos. Neither could provide any insight, but senior wide receiver Keon Hatcher did point to the new play caller’s ability to make it a game.

“Let me get back to you on the catch word,” Hatcher said. “We have been out there just a few times with him now and I think I can tell you something later in the spring. I’ll be watching for it.”

Enos just laughed.

“Wins and losses are important,” he said. “They sometimes dictate how you feel. I know they are important. But I think you can come to the office with the right attitude and frame of mind regardless.

“What I have stressed to our players, come to meetings with a pencil and notebook, but more importantly come with a great attitude. What frame of mind you are in when you walk in the door is important. I talk about that a lot.

“I want them prepared to play and that means studying. But if we are positive about what we are doing and having fun, I think the whole thing will work better.

“I want it to be a positive working environment. I want them to have a great belief in themselves. If they are having fun, that helps in every way.”

That’s been a priority in the way Enos has coached fifth-year senior Brandon Allen. He’s worked to build a positive self image within his new quarterback. That is a brilliant move since Allen was sometimes beat up by fans and the media for not playing at an elite level, especially in an injury-plagued sophomore season.

“I really wasn’t aware of that,” Enos said. “What I was doing with Brandon would have happened regardless, but I’ve been told by a couple of people that it was good to see. I want him to have fun.

“I have told him several times, I want him looking through the front window. I want him to see what is ahead of him this year, not behind.

“I like him a lot. He’s smart. He understands football and he has ability. He’s a good athlete. I see some things that I really like, a lot like I had in Brian Hoyer. He’s got a similar build and I think he has a lot of the same qualities. I think he’s a very good player.

“Brandon has attention to detail, the ability to recall the things we’ve worked on and he’s got a live arm. His mobility is very good. But more than anything, he’s tough and smart.”

Enos most everything about the first six weeks of his Arkansas stay. The one down side is that his wife, Jane, and two children have not joined him. A house has been purchased. Closing will come after spring break. He’s been on the phone a lot with Jane and the kids.

“Jane made it down to help pick out a house,” Enos said. “But she gave four weeks notice at her job. She’s getting our house in Michigan ready to go on the market and packing. I haven’t been any help.”

Enos hasn’t hauled any of his favorite family items yet, only what could go on an airplane. He pointed at a personal calendar that has family pictures for each month.

“That’s it,” he said, noting he can turn the pages to see his favorite pictures. “I have a lot of framed pictures of my kids to go in my office, but I was afraid I’d break them by packing them in a suitcase. So they aren’t here yet. To be without them this long has been very difficult. There is a lot of phone time. I have mediated a couple of times. Lots of texts during the day.”

But the job itself has been great. It’s been good to give up some head coach duties, like discipline and the details of defense and special teams. Head coaches also have many more speaking duties that Enos is glad to give up. He’s a very good interview, but is just fine with cutting back on that load.

Enos was the play caller at Central Michigan, but he’ll have more time to game plan as a position coach and coordinator than as a head coach.

“Really, that has rejuvenated me,” he said. “I’ve got to do more football. The head coach has a lot more things besides football. Absolutely, I’ve enjoyed being just the coordinator.

“It’s another challenge. We are trying to find all the pieces to the puzzle. But I’m excited to be here.

“I love what I see in the community. I know my wife is excited about what is here, too. Our teenage daughter plays soccer and I’m trying to find out about that for her. I think it’s good, too. I’ve talked to (UA soccer coach) Colby Hale about the club soccer here.

“It excites me to see the vision Bret Bielema has for the program. I also think Jeff Long and the senior administrators do a wonderful job. There are just so many positives as far as the University of Arkansas, the community and the support in this building in so many ways. This is a cohesive, smooth running staff. Bret has built things the right way.

“I know it’s going to be a lot of fun. I just am ready for Jane to get here.”

Family is important to Enos.

“It sure is,” he said. “I had young coaches on my staff at Central Michigan. Some of them were just getting married in the last couple of years. I told them a lot, ‘Get used to saying this phrase, yes ma’am!’ When things are right at home, things go better at work. Everything is better. I know I’ll be better when they are all here.”

Hatcher sees the big picture the new play caller is painting.

“Coach Enos has got enthusiasm and he wants us to have fun,” Hatcher said. “It’s clear he wants to throw the ball around. That’s what we did today. He brings energy to our offense. He’s very energetic.

“He’s an old quarterback. He wants to throw it. We see that. I watched film of his teams at Central Michigan. I know they threw it there and when he was at Michigan State they threw it. We are going to throw it and we are excited about that.

“Of course, we will put pads on in a couple of days. We’ll run it then. We know we have two great running backs and a big offensive line so we are still going to run it plenty.”

Running back Jonathan Williams noticed the changes in the passing game concepts.

“You see that right away,” Williams said. “There are new route combinations. There are changes in the passing game. You also see that Coach Enos has a fire about him. He will get after guys. It’s definitely some new terminology, but we didn’t have trouble learning it.

“This is an exciting time all around the country. Everyone is excited to get out there for the first day, but we definitely have excitement. The way we ended the season, we wanted to get back out there and get going.”

Sebastian Tretola isn’t the biggest of the big O-line group. He said today that he’s worked himself into about half of his old self.

“I’m at 322 and still going down,” he said. “I really think I’ll play bigger than I am not. But I’m taking it off and going to put it back with muscle. I got to get all of this (baby fat) stuff off first.”

Told that Enos has plans for him as a pulling guard now that he’s quicker and more agile, Tretola said he hasn’t been called “a speed guy or puller in about 100 pounds. But I’m getting there. I’m going to keep losing so I can show off my six pack on the beach. I will take my shirt off, too.”

Tretola marveled at the energetic Enos.

“I think we all are having fun,” he said. “He does try to make it fun. He keeps us going.”

Hatcher said the practice was fast paced despite breaking in some new terminology from Enos.

“It really hasn’t been tough,” Hatcher said. “It’s really helped us be more simple and do more. I think most everyone learned the new things he brought to the table very easily. Most of it is the same. What he changed, was easy.”

Hatcher likes the use of more wide receivers in the playbook. There definitely were some sets with three and four wideouts on Monday.

“Absolutely,” Hatcher said. “We’ve done things like me between two tight ends in a tight set before, now we have three and four (wideouts) out there. He told us he was going to get us in space. I definitely like that. You want to get the ball in space so you can do more things, show your wiggle.”

Enos has said there are also more pulling plays.

“Yes,” Tretola said. “We have a couple of plays for me and Frank (Ragnow, the other guard) and you know Frank is pretty freaky with his speed. Frank and me want to be outside on people. We’ve got a couple of new pulling plays and some checks to pulls. I like this stuff.”

Enos has talked about the ability of Brandon Allen to make plays with his feet. Hatcher knows Allen has more confidence in that area of his game after Enos has watched his tape

“I think Brandon has some wiggle,” Hatcher said. “More than most people think. He’s got some athletic ability. I think we all know Brandon is capable of running.

“And, Brandon has been sharp with his passing. We were pretty sharp today for a first day. We were all excited to be out there.

“We are excited about spring and what this team can do. I know people were excited about the victory over Texas in the bowl game and the way we finished. But, to be honest, that wasn’t anything as far as what we can do. We’ve got a lot more than that and we want to show that this year. We are off to a good start after today.”

Hatcher praised sophomore Damon “Duwop” Mitchell, part of a young wide receiver group.

“Duwop showed that he knows it,” Hatcher said. “He had a good day. He’s one that can help us. I think we have some young ones capable of doing some things to help this offense. Duwop and JoJo Robinson can do some things in this offense. They are going to be able to show case what they can after the catch in space. Jared Cornelius will be able to do that, too. We are all excited about this passing game.

“But like I said, we’ve got other weapons. We have great running backs. We have great tight ends with Hunter Henry and Jeremy Sprinkle. I think people are going to like this offense.

“We looked good today. We looked good throwing the ball. We played fast and showed that we know this offense. It’s a lot of what we’ve been doing. I think everyone was comfortable with what we were doing today, even with some of the new terminology.

“We tried to go as fast as possible, too. Coach Enos, he is about getting another play off. He’s always pushing us to get going, run another one, faster, faster. We went pretty fast today. And we had a lot of fun. Coach Enos wants to make it fun and he did.”

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