Those expecting to see the same offense that Dan Enos ran when he was last the offensive coordinator at Arkansas in 2017 will likely be surprised.

That’s because while the Enos-led Razorback offenses were highly productive from 2015-2017, Enos believes his mindset, concepts and dynamics of play calling have evolved during stops at Alabama, Miami and Maryland.

Enos’ 2015 offense is one of only three Razorback offenses in history to get at lest 6,000 yards, also posted a school-record 62 touchdowns and averaged 35.9 points per game and joins the 2016 as two of the school’s top 10 offenses of all time.

“I think in this game the great thing about this game is it’s constantly evolving, and you can either adapt and evolve with it or you’ll find yourself on the outside looking in at times,” Enos said. “So, through my career I’ve always tried to at least stay on the cutting edge of what people are doing and learning new things.

“… The RPO world has kind of brought on a whole new realm of the game that we didn’t do a lot of. And then, obviously as (Arkansas head) Coach (Sam Pittman) mentioned, I think you’re always going to try to do things that your personnel can do.”

Enos inherits an offense that is led by quarterback KJ Jefferson and he is anxious to work with Jefferson, who he sees comparisons to Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa as well as former Alabama and current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.

“KJ kind of reminds me of Jalen Hurts a little bit, too. I’m trying to like find comparisons, if you will. One thing I will say, I’ve coached a lot of quarterbacks over the years. This’ll be my 32nd season coming up as a collegiate coach. They’re all different. There’s not two the same. And I tell this to the guys all the time. The great ones I’ve coached and I’ve been around, there’s a lot of similar characteristics if you will, things they have in common. KJ’s a guy, like Taulia and like Jalen, is a very good passer and is very athletic.”

The combination of Jefferson’s arms, legs and football IQ has Enos excited.

“It’s actually kind of exactly what you’re looking for if you really, really want to put defenses in a bind,  having a guy that can beat you with his arm and his brain but can also beat you with his legs,” Enos said. “I’ve been very, very impressed watching the film of KJ. I’ve obviously watched Arkansas on TV and things like that, just obviously being a fan of Coach Pittman and rooting for him the last few years when we’re able to watch. I got a chance to see him, but then now studying the tape and everything, it’s been very impressive to look at his skillset.

“…But the big thing is that we’re going to evolve, and we’re going to use the talent that we have, try to get them the ball and try to find creative ways to be efficient on offense.”

Enos replaced Kendal Briles, who is now at TCU after three years at Arkansas. Briles had previous dalliances with Miami and Mississippi State so Pittman was ready to hire Enos right away within minutes of hearing Briles was being courted by the Horned Frogs.

 “I guess the first part of your question, as soon as I found out that there was interest for Coach (KB) to leave,” Pittman said. “Maybe, I don’t know, 10 minutes after that maybe, or 5 or 3.”

Pittman was the offensive line coach I’m 2015 when Enos was the OC under Bret Bielema. 

“I’ve had respect for Dan Enos for a long, long time,” Pittman said. “I talked to (wife) Jamie last night, and it’s just different. When I was here the first time, he was my boss and now I’m working with him in a different role. I think you hire good people that are confident in themselves, but yet confident in guys they’re working with, tooI was very comfortable working with him, and I hope he feels the same about me.”

Enos said he believed Pittman was going to be a good head coach when he heard he was hired by Arkansas in Dec. of 2019.

“And I’ve said this to many people, and I’ve said this before I was hired here, but when Coach got the job, a lot of people were like, ‘What do you think about Coach Pittman? How do you think he’s gonna do? He’s never been a coordinator.’ I said, ‘You know what? That guy’s gonna be a great head coach, ‘cause I’ll tell you why. He’s an outstanding football coach, he’s very smart, he’s very organized and he’s a great communicator.’ 

“And you know what? The players loved him. They played for him, but he was not Coach Nice, if you will. He was not their friend, but he demands respects by the way he treats people and how he coaches them, and I thought, ‘You know what? I bet you this guy’s gonna be a tremendous head football coach’ because of all those things that we just talked about.”

“…Dan has always, whether it was here or Alabama or Maryland, they’ve always run on offense around their personnel and their talents, and all that starts, in my opinion, at the quarterback position,” Pittman said. “Dan obviously knew coming here what we have at quarterback, and we’re going to just KJ’s abilities to the fullest along with Rocket and all the other guys.”

Pittman just wants to do what it takes to win games, but admits a passion for the running game.

“I’m an offensive line coach for a reason,” Pittman said. “I like to run the ball and Dan fit in with that philosophy as well.  The bottom line is we’ve just got to score more points than they do. Since Dan left Arkansas, he’s been in multiple formations, multiple sets, multiple offensive philosophies that I think he can adjust, and will, around any of the personnel that we have.”

Enos noted the decision to return to Arkansas was an easy one because of his his previous stint.

“It’s been a whirlwind, really, because it happened very very quickly, as what usually happens in this profession,” Enos said. “But it’s been really good because I do have a lot of familiarity with Fayetteville. Just getting back and forth and everything when you take a new job usually that’s a struggle, so I haven’t had to use the GPS at least to do that. It really is, it’s a really special place. 

“One of the reasons why it was so easy for me to come back is because of our experience here the first time as a family and just me as a professional too. The passion that the fans have and the people have for this university. Going to the basketball game a week or so ago and feeling that in that environment, and just being out with Coach Pittman and having all the people talking to coach, it’s just a very special, unique place. So it was very easy that way. 

“But it’s been great to be back. I have a lot of respect for Coach Pittman, and him and I, we worked together here in 2015. He’s just been one of those guys that you work with and you’re just on the same page right from the get-go.”

Enos said it has been heartwarming that many of his former Razorbacks players have reached out to him and told him they are excited about him being back at Arkansas.

“So I preached to those guys believing in me, as these guys will too, and our whole staff, you know, every day we come to work, man, we don’t want to let anybody down,” Enos said. “We want to do the very best we can and make the people of this state proud of the guys we coach and how we coach them, and we’re gonna put our best foot forward every day. It’s great to have support of guys that used to be here, and those are some great players too, and they were fun to coach.”

Enos is impressed with Arkansas’ new staff, which included coaching turnover at  offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, linebacker, in the secondary and with the strength and conditioning program.

“And he also, I think, has really done a really good job of putting people around him that are very, very good at what they do.” Enos said. “I told Coach the other day that just being around the support staff and getting to know everybody, from the strength staff to the operations staff to the recruiting to everybody, there’s really, really good people that are very competent at what they’re doing ,and coaching those that he can do a great job of getting those people together and getting everybody to work together. 

“That’s the greatest compliment I can say is that this guy gets people to work together and get on the same page.”

Enos, who was head coach at Central Michigan from 2010-2014 also fills a role for Pittman that former Razorback defensive coordinator Barry Odom did as having a former head coach on his staff.

“I’ve said this before, but having been a head coach before, I think I’m a better assistant coach,” Enos said. “ Because, you know, until you really actually have to sit in that chair every day and deal with the day to day things – and I mean day to day things, you know, there’s not a lot of days off when you sit in that chair, but – I think you just have an appreciation for the job and the pressure and the organization and the vision and everything. You know what I mean? 

“And so, after I was done being the head coach and was an assistant coach again, I just tried to say ‘Okay, listen, like what is the head coach’s vision? What’s he want out of me? How can I help him and help his job? And then what I try to do is, kind of being the elder statesman a little bit now and having been a head coach, I try to maybe bring some experiences to the assistant coaches in the offensive staff room about things that – trying to anticipate things that may happen, may help keep things off the head coach’s plate to make his job and life easier. 

“Maybe explain the situation. Maybe the head coach may be thinking this because of this, and try to look at it from his point of view. So I think just my experience of being a head coach before, it’s just made me just more aware and just have a much better appreciation for the job that the head coach has.” 

Pittman announced that spring practice will begin on Thursday, March 9 and be over by the time the transfer portal recruiting period opens back up May 1-15.

“We’re going to go 9th, 10th, Saturday off, then go Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday,” Pittman said. “That’ll be the first five before spring break. I’m trying not to come back and do a four-week deal like we always do after spring break. I’m honestly trying to finish spring ball when the portal opens back up.”