Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos earned favor with Razorback fans right away in his first game as his team took to the air to pass for 308 of the 490 yards total offense the home team put up.
Has the balanced offense that Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema wanted finally arrived?
“We want to have the ability to throw the ball and run the ball, and try to do them both very well,” Enos said. “That’s been what I've really stressed to our players since I arrived here, was creating a balance.
“I think I've said it to the media few times, that balance isn't really a lot of times running the ball the same amount as you pass it. It's being able to try to win a game or having the ability to win a game doing either, because it's going to come up throughout the season.
“We've all been doing this a long time and there are certain games where maybe your not running the ball that well and you need to have a good passing game to complement it, to help it. Or the other way.
“Maybe there's a game where you're not throwing the ball very well and you need to run the ball. There's always times in game you need to run the football and there's always times you need to throw the ball.
“When you play good people, when you become one-dimensional you become easier to defense, and we're trying to not be one-dimensional. We're trying to be an offense that makes people defend the entire field.
“We want to be an offense that can hopefully help our team win, because that's the goal. We want to help our team win either running the ball or throwing the ball on any given day.”
Arkansas (1-0) will play Toledo (0-0) on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium.
The Rockets were ahead of Stony Brook 16-7 Thursday night before weather canceled the game at halftime at 12:21 a.m.
It was ruled no contest after three stoppages, two of over an hour and one of 25 minutes, with former Alabama quarterback Phillip Ely (8-of 16 passing for 70 yards) directed Toledo’s attack.
"We play Toledo, a team that scored over 60 points in their bowl game a year ago, got a lot, some of the players back," Bielema said. "Obviously lost a lot up front, o-line. They have two players that are suspended, one on both sides of the ball that were good players. But got to see a glimpse of them in their first half last week, obviously didn’t get to finish the game. But a very well-coached football team, a team that’s had a lot of success, I think won nine games , I think, three out of the last five years. Got a lot of pride and a lot of enthusiasm, and you see it on film."
Bielema was impressed with what he did see from Toledo in limited action.
“Guys that were in there the first half made some plays,” Bielema said. “ He won the starting job a year ago, Ely did, then got hurt and came back and did it again. You can see he’s got a lot of tools. It’s going to be an interesting week of preparation. They really run 11 personnel, which is three wide, one tight end, one running back. They run a version of the no-huddle. Not overly fast at times but they can be. You’ve really got to be prepared for a lot of things."
The Rockets have been very successful in recent years and downed Arkansas State 63-44 in the Go Daddy Bowl last January, return 15 starters from a 9-4 team and are the media’s preseason favorite in the MAC's Western Division.
“Well, they're very well coached and they have good players,” Enos said. “I think that's a pretty good combination. That's what we're all striving for. Toledo's been a good team for many, many years. Going back for a long time. They've done a really good job there."
As the former head coach of a MAC team himself at Central Michigan, Enos knows the mindset of taking on a Power 5 conference team.
“Let's go win it,” Enos said of the MAC mindset. “You know, we went and beat Purdue last year when I was at Central. And in 2012 we won at Iowa.
“When I was at Western Michigan in 2000 we went to Iowa and won too, when I was an assistant there.
“Their attitude is to come in and win the game you know. They have good players, they have good coaches just like everybody else.
“Our attitude is this: We're trying to be 1-0 this week. Toledo is our opponent. They won nine games last year. They're a heck of a good FB team, with good players and coaches. We're going to have to have a great week of preparation and focus. We want to see some improvement between week one and week two.”
The Rockets will be without two of their best players as senior defensive end Allen Covington and junior tailback Kareem Hunt, who rushed for over 1,600 yards last season - won’t play due to suspensions.
Bielema told a story about how he was a little worried about sending the defense out so quickly after the offense scored quickly - something that secondary coach noted was Bielema’s fault because he hired Enos.
“I'm just glad we were scoring,” Enos said. “We're not concerned with how many plays it takes. But I'll tell you one thing that was awesome was the third quarter when we started a drive at the 6-yard line (actually the 7) and started a drive at the 3-yard line from our defense and special teams.
“It was really, really neat to have those short fields like that. And certainly, I met with the QBs yesterday, and what we talked about was what we're going to have to do this week to give our team a chance to win. Our entire organization is about winning the game. I tell the quarterbacks this after every game.
“You might throw for 8 yards today. You might throw for 480 yards today. I don't know. But what I do know is we better be ready to do our part to help this football team win. And that's how we feel offensively.
“We have to be able to score enough points to win every week … and stay within the formula that Coach Bielema lays out for us each week with offense, defense and special teams all being cohesively together and work together…”
Enos talked about how pleased he was with the play of quarterback Brandon Allen, who was 14-of-18 passing for the 308 yards and four touchdowns, tailback Alex Collins, wideout Keon Hatcher, tight ends Hunter Henry and Jeremy Sprinkle and notes that wide receiver Dominique Reed will be fed more plays.
"I thought Brandon played very well," Enos said. "First and foremost, he managed the game. There are a lot of things Brandon does that people who are watching the game have no idea what he's doing. But getting fronts (recognizing them) and linebacker identifications on every play, getting those things communicated … We would line up Saturday, and then their defense would have trouble lining up and the clock would be ticking and we're trying to ID things.
"I thought he was very poised and handled those situations and got the ball snapped before the 40-second clock went off. He did a great job in his in communication, first and foremost with his teammates. I thought his pocket posture was very good.
"With the exception of one or two plays, I thought his feet and his posture in the pocket were excellent. I thought our guys up front and our backs did a very good of pass protection. And then I thought he was very decisive in his decison-making, which is something we've been working with him on a daily basis, to find his movement key, quick drops, great balance, make quick decisions and be very decisive with where he's going to with the football."