FAYETTEVILLE — Dan Enos spent three years at Arkansas previously and now is back set to work under head coach Sam Pittman.
Enos obviously is elated to have redshirt senior KJ Jefferson to work with this season. Jefferson is different than Brandon Allen and some of the other quarterbacks coached by Enos.
“I think everybody I’ve coached is different,” Enos said. “I told the quarterbacks the first night, we go through my quarterback commandments and our philosophy of playing the position, and I said, ‘You know, one thing about this position is…” You know, I think I had six or seven guys that I coached in the NFL last year — and I said, ‘You know what, they’re all different, and they’ve all taught me something.’ You know, when I was young, maybe I tried to put guys in a box a little bit or whatever, but they’re all different. You know, Cooper Rush and Brandon Allen are different than Jalen Hurts, and Mac Jones and Tua (Tagovailoa). You know, it’s just, I learn from them. So, some guys are better at this and a little better at that. My job is to try to make them equally as good as everything as I can. Find out where their deficiencies are and try to make them their strengths. That’s my job to figure that out.
“But then at the end of the day, we’re going to grow, and we’re going to be that… Okay, here’s what we do well, and here’s what we do the best, and we’re going to do those things. I think KJ’s a guy that can do a lot of different things. I think he could be a true drop-back passer and get by and be very, very good at it. He’s, like I said, has got great eyes, anticipation, great arm talent. But man, this guy is a big, really, really natural runner. He’s got great vision. He sets up blocks. He’s a tremendous athlete. I think we’re going to find a nice, good balance between letting him do the things he can do with his arm, and also I’ll obviously rely on him to do the things with his legs. At the end of the day, to make us the most efficient offense we can be to help our football team win. He’s a really good athlete, and again, I’m getting to know him. I’ve gotten to know him, and he’s different than the other guys. Just like Jacolby Criswell is different than anyone I’ve ever coached, as well. And you can go right down the list. And like I said, I enjoy so much being around them.”
Other than Jefferson, Enos is also pleased with the quarterbacks he has in the room.
“We have a good group,” Enos said. “These guys work really hard. Jacolby (Criswell), Cade Fortin and Malachi (Singleton), they all come to work every day. They’ve got a blue-collar mentality. We grind it out so we meet a lot this time of year, and these guys are big note-takers and listeners. It’s a really well-rounded room. We’ve got some young guys in the room. Ryker Acebo is in there with us, too. Then we’ve got some elder statesmen in Cade and KJ. It’s a really well-rounded room. It’s a talented room.’
At many places it’s hard to keep all the quarterbacks happy. Enos is very impressed with the attitude as well as talent of Arkansas’ quarterbacks.
“The thing I’ve been most impressed about is the amount of respect they have for one another,” Enos said. “The guys are not in any way jealous of one another and all that. Which sometimes in quarterback rooms can be tough because only one guy is going to play, and everybody wants to be the guy that goes out there when the game starts.
“Obviously, KJ has really established himself here, and I think it’s really good to have him in the room. Especially for the younger players to watch a guy and be able to mentor the guys. I think it’s really important for young players to have someone to look up to and be able to watch and say okay that’s how you’re supposed to do it. KJ and Cade Fortin have certainly played that role very well thus far.”
Enos has Jefferson working under center a lot last spring and then in preseason. Enos explained his thoughts on that.
“Yeah, he’s been real good on intermediate and short throws,” Enos said. “I haven’t noticed anything with that. I agree, I think his deep ball accuracy is very good and continues to be very good. He’s made some throws the last couple days, but really great coverage by our secondary, and he’s put the ball in a place where our receivers can make plays, and I’ve been very impressed with that. You know, I don’t know about the NFL as far as that because I think everybody has their own philosophies and how they want to do things. But I believe in training underneath center. I believe in the offseason they should train under center a lot because I think when you’re under center it makes you more aware of your timing, your rhythm and your balance on your drops. I think a lot of these young players now don’t play under center ever when they’re young. I do think that’s a disservice for these quarterbacks coming up because I feel that’s where you really, really learn and build a foundation of balance, rhythm and timing on passes.
“And then you should transition back into the shotgun because that’s great as well. But I think it’s much easier to transition back than it is to transition forward. And I think it helps them develop as a passer when they train under there. So, we do a lot of training in the offseason under there for those reasons. I train him in practice that way, too. And we are under center some, as well, because there’s some things that fit what we do better under center than they do in the gun. But we’re obviously very multiple as far as we’re going to be in the pistol, we’re going to be in the sidecar, we’re going to be under center. We’re going to have the ability to do all those things.”
Arkansas will open the season on Saturday, Sept. 2, in Little Rock against Western Carolina at 3 p.m.