FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is 2-6 as it enters the bye week and already one firing has happened with the exit of Dan Enos, the offensive coordinator.
Here’s three thoughts concerning Arkansas Football.
The Writing Was on Wall Saturday
I was surprised on Sunday at the number of people who didn’t think Sam PIttman was getting ready to fire Enos. If you have known Pittman the seven seasons he has been here one answer he gave following Saturday’s game made it obvious what was coming. Pittman was asked about would he ever consider in-season coaching changes. No way Pittman could say yes, but if he hadn’t planned to fire someone he would have said no. That is the way Pittman has answered questions since he was an assistant for three seasons and head coach now in his fourth. But instead he didn’t; say no.
“Oh, I don’t really want to answer that,” Pittman said.
As I said earlier, Pittman would have said no if he wasn’t going to fire someone. By saying what he said he pretty well dropped a huge hint. The obvious one to get fired was Enos and that is what happened.
A lazy critic or two on social media accused me of waiting until Enos was gone to say he should have been. Those people obviously haven’t listened to any of the podcasts I have done the past 4-6 weeks. I repeatedly pointed out I didn’t like the hire when Sam made it and simply felt like it wasn’t going to work at Arkansas. And it didn’t.
Why Don’t I Say Same Thing About Pittman?
Some of the same critics wanted to know if I said that about Enos why don’t I say it about Pittman now? They say if Enos was a bad hire he’s the head coach and who made it. They also pointed out Pittman’s record in the past two seasons.
When they say the buck stops at the top with Pittman they are making my case why I am not ready to say Pittman needs to go. Yes, as I have said I think he hurt himself when he made a very bad hire with Enos. However, since the buck stops with him (their words) then let’s look at something. There’s three aspects to football. Offense, defense and special teams.
Take away the second half of the LSU game and the defense has been very good. Take away the BYU game when Cam Little missed a field goal and Max Fletcher had two bad punts the special teams have been excellent. Even in that game Isaiah Sategna had a return for a touchdown against BYU. So two of the three aspects have been very good for Arkansas this year.
Yes, the offense has been beyond terrible with Enos. Has it been bad enough to cost Pittman his job? That is up to Hunter Yurachek and the Board of Trustees to decide. I do think Pittman has hired some very good coaches, on both sides of the ball, and he’s a good recruiter.
I would imagine the Pittman supporters hope that Kenny Guiton gives KJ Jefferson, and probably 99.9% of the players on offense, their wish and returns faster tempo offense the next four games. The players love that style and have fun in it. It’s obvious no one on offense has had much fun this season. The players didn’t play with the same enthusiasm and spirit of those on defense.
It’s highly unlikely Arkansas wins out and qualifies for a bowl game, but they need to show some improvement and promise on offense. I would like to see Pittman get another season and chance to make amends for that terrible hire, but once again that decision will be made by Yurachek and several others well above my pay scale.
Don’t Expect Miracle Overnight
Even for those of us who felt Enos was the main issue with a struggling offense this season, don’t expect his firing to magically solve everything on offense. Pittman admitted as much on Monday.
“Well, I think a lot of things can improve,” Pittman said. “I think we can run the ball better. If you look at Saturday, I think we had a couple of first downs right in a row and we decided not to run it. That’s nothing — I’m not being negative. Look, the man got let go. He’s a wonderful person and all that. But what’s working has got to continue to be called and things of that nature. Sometimes nothing’s working, so it’s hard to call something, too. But I think we can improve in our running game.
“I think we can move the pocket and do some things where we’re not sitting back there all the time. I think, obviously I talked about 29 drop back passes in a game is hard to protect for us right now, so we can’t do that. It could be some gap protections, it could be some roll protections or it could be some nakeds, things that KJ can get out on the edge and have run and pass opportunities. There’s just… To me, he’s not done a wonderful job either of protection or of sitting in the pocket and throwing the football. If that’s the case, we can’t keep beating a dead horse. We have to do something different. And again, this is nothing negative about Dan at all. It’s just something we have to make a change somehow.”
Arkansas and Florida will kickoff at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, and once again the game will be in Gainesville and on ESPN2.