Evin Demirel: 1-on-1 with New Hogs OC Dan Enos


How far the Razorbacks rise this year will largely boil down to how well their offense can execute down the stretch of close SEC games and not replicate the chalk-scratching fourth quarter of last year’s Mizzou game. And so, naturally, much of the program’s fate rests in the hands of Dan Enos, the former Central Michigan head coach Bret Bielema hired last winter as his offense coordinator.

No pressure, right?

Not that we could see at the Arkansas Media Day yesterday in Fayetteville. Here’s the latest from the erstwhile Chief Cheppewa:

Offensive coordinator Dan Enos 

On quarterback Brandon Allen:

He’s a very good passer, he’s got very good arm strength, and he’s very smart. He’s really diligent about how he goes about his business. His preparation thus far has been very, very good. He’s very football smart. I think he’s doing everything we ask of him. I think he continues to get better the more I’m around him… He’s a lot of fun to coach, because he doesn’t usually make the same mistake twice, and those guys are the best guys to be around.

… When we talk in there in our room, we have some great, candid conversations about … I’ll share things with him, “I went through this, I’ve, yeah, been in a similar situation.” Sometimes they’re good moments and sometimes bad moments that I experienced.

Having coached the position for 20-some years, too, you get to see different ways to do things, but I think this: I think they know that I understand it’s not easy. It’s the most difficult thing in sports to excel at, in my opinion, is to be a great quarterback. There’s a lot of demands. Not only physical, but mental and emotional demands, as well, to play that position and excel at it. I try to use the experiences that I’ve had as a player, as a coach, to help give those to those guys so hopefully we can help them out in a certain situation as we go through the season.

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On the wide receivers’ performance in training camp:

I think Keon Hatcher’s picked up right where he left off in the spring. Very, very good, very lean, very well. Jared Cornelius has been very solid. JoJo Robinson’s been very good. Cody Hollister, Drew Morgan, all of them have had their moments. Duwop [Damon Mitchell] has been very good, you see he’s flash. It’s good to have Kendrick out there. Kendrick’s made some plays. Dominique Reed is a guy, [Eric] Hawkins. All those guys.

Actually, it’s kind of interesting. Today, as a staff, we went through the two-deep, and then as an offensive staff, we talked about, and I told my questions. I look out there and it’s just different. You see guys physically that can do things. When we’re running rounds and doing things, I’m not really concerned, like, “Oh, make sure this guy’s in with Brandon,” or, “Make sure …” I don’t care, because we’re gaining confidence and trust. These guys can line up and get off the line and get in the right spot and catch the ball. It’s been really fun, because I think we have a lot of guys that can do different things.

On receivers’ improvement since early spring:

The first part of spring, I’ve got to be perfectly honest, I thought, “We’ve got some work to do here.” By the end of the spring, I saw tremendous improvement in Drew Morgan and Cody, in Duwop to a certain extent, and Hawk, to a little bit. Keon I thought was off the charts and JoJo was decent. Kendrick wasn’t with us.

Okay, you look ahead to now, and Drew’s improved, Cody’s improved, Doo-wop looks like a different guy, you know what I mean? JoJo has been very, very good, Kendrick’s good, and then you throw Dominique Reed in the mix, and Keon’s gotten better.

Then there are three newcomers I think we hit a home run with, all three of those guys. That’s with Dominique and La’Michael and Deon Stewart. All three of those guys are class. Early in camp, they’re all physically gifted to do things in this league and help us. That area is turning towards becoming an area of strength for us over the near future. They definitely have us very, very excited.

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On his boss, Bret Bielema 

Coach Bielema is a good, old-fashioned football coach. When you’re around different head coaches, you see guys that are more of administrators or whatever they are. Coach Bielema is a football coach. He understands what it takes to win: blocking, tackling, schematically, special teams, the formula that it takes to put a consistent product on the field every day. He believes in treating your players with respect. He believes in the student-athletes being students first and athletes second. He believes in doing things the right way. He believes in recruiting. He’s a bulldog in recruiting. He’s very diligent in his work. He watches the tape.

I’ve got to be honest with you. Those are all the same qualities that I want to surround myself with. His plan, his formula … it works. It’s been proven it works. This is very exciting for me to be here and be along with it. Hopefully, I can do my part to help us get better.

… He hired me to do a job. He hired me with the understanding that philosophically, we were very similar. He lays out the blueprint of things he wants to see and wants us to accomplish. We talk about things that I think are important, thinks that he thinks are important, and not just with me, but our entire offensive staff, and then we put our heads together and collectively come up with things.

When Coach feels very strong about certain things, then those things will never change for him. We believe in the same things he does, so obviously he gives the blueprint and we work together extremely well. He’s been real good. He has, obviously, a lot of input. He knows everything we’re doing, but certainly allows us to coach and use our personalities and lets our personalities come out with him and indeed, with our players, and that’s very important, in my opinion.

[As far as being a head coach], he’s a lot better at it than I am, or I wouldn’t be here right now. I would just say I think all the head coaches I’ve worked for have been a little bit different, but the really good ones I’ve been around, the Mark D’antonios and the George Perleses and the Bret Bielemas, those guys all have very, very similar qualities. When I was a head coach, I tried to build our program in the same ways of doing things right, being fundamentally sound and being disciplined and all those kinds of things. Certainly since I’ve been here it’s been just what I thought it was going to be as far as we’re going to attack things very detail-oriented and do things the right way and treat people the right way.

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Want to read more interview transcriptions from your favorite Razorbacks? Evin Demirel will provide that for about 20 Hog coaches and players through his new BestOfArkansasSports.com, which has launched as the state’s only roundup of Arkansas-related sports interviews on TV, radio and online.

Dan Enos


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