State of the Hogs: No Heavy

The bells and whistles may not be on public display, but new offensive coordinator Dan Enos will be easy to find at the Red-White game. He'll be on the sideline, just where he plans to coach from next fall. The new play caller wants to be in the center of the action.

There's been some open practices this spring at Arkansas, but for most fans it's going to be the first glimpse of Dan Enos when the SEC Network broadcasts the Red-White game on Saturday.

“It's going to be fun,” said wide receiver Jared Cornelius. “It's going to be fun for the players to get into The Don, fun for fans to see Coach Enos.”

The Don is what players now call Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. I've heard a few mentions in the last couple of weeks, but mostly from Cornelius, the slithery 5-11, 195-pound sophomore from Shreveport, La.

But, this is more about The Dan, than The Don. Enos, the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, will be front and center when the spring game begins at 1 p.m. Saturday. He's going to be on the sideline, just like he is for games next fall.

Dan Enos has endeared himself to players, most notably the quarterbacks and wide receivers in the three months he's been on campus. Head coach Bret Bielema sees it. Everyone sees it.

Enos has given the Hogs a little bit of a west coast look to the offense, although I'm guessing that what you'll see Saturday looks remarkably like what Bret Bielema's first two teams in the Ozarks ran. It will be vanilla.

Both Enos and quarterback Brandon Allen talked about the “watered down” flavor of the play list for the Red-White game, since it is going to be televised by the SEC Network. The bells and whistles that the players love are not going to be on public display.

“It's just how it goes in the spring games,” Enos said.

Allen said, “We won't be running our new stuff.”

Cornelius didn't say what the new stuff might be, but cornerback Jared Collins hinted at some of it a few weeks ago when he said it includes some “option routes” that make it tough on the secondary. It's also clearly some sets with three, four and five wideouts. Tight ends Hunter Henry and Jeremy Sprinkle are flexed in some of those open formations.

“If you are a wide receiver, you love what we are doing,” Cornelius said, smiling from ear to ear. “We love Coach Enos, especially the wide receivers. It's exciting stuff for us. This is more passing than last year and it's more balanced and we are real happy.”

Sometimes players say the right things, but you don't see it in their eyes. There is a twinkle when you mention Enos to Cornelius. Enos gets it.

“I think we are having fun together,” he said. “I'm having a blast. Coach Bielema has done a great job putting together a staff and assembling this roster. There are great people here.”

Without question, Enos has worked to become liked by players. Maybe it's a little easier to pull off when you are an assistant than it was the last five seasons as head coach at Central Michigan.

“Honestly, it's been good to be just a coordinator or a position coach for a change,” he said. “The head coach has to be the heavy. This is a role where I can help the head coach, be positive, be uplifting. I've got more time to do those things. A head coach has an awful lot of things to do.

“But I see the smiles. I have worked to get to know the players. I've taken time to just find out about their backgrounds, ask questions, find out about these guys. I've got time to do that.

“To be honest, as a head coach, a lot of the things you have to deal with aren't the fun part. When it comes to you, it's not always positive. So I don't have to deal with those things any more. As a rule, being the head coach is not always fun. This has been fun, a great feel to it.”

It's the ability to feel that leads Enos to want to be on the sideline on game day. Bielema will have both coordinators on the sideline next fall, something that's never happened during his head coaching career. Enos said there is not much about calling plays from the press box that excites him.

“I've done it once and I hated it,” he said. “I was at Northern Michigan in '96 and was in the box. I felt helpless up there. I didn't like it at all.

“The rest of the my career, I've called plays from the sideline. We'll have someone in the box to help me see coverages. We have a great staff.

“I just think you need to be on the field if you are coaching quarterbacks. You eliminate the middle man. It's important in the two-minute game. I'm on the field in practice. I can see everything I need. I want to see the eyes of my quarterback.

“Really, there are just so many things that are better when you are on the field. You feel weather conditions change. I want to talk with my quarterback, see him.”

Everyone wants to see Dan Enos on Saturday. It's my belief after seeing him uplift the Arkansas football team for 14 practices, the Razorback Nation will be uplifted by the 15th. Everyone at The Don will like The Dan.

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