<
>

Dan Enos finds right fit at right time in Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Inside a desk drawer in Bret Bielema's spacious office resides a list. On it are three coaches at each of the nine full-time assistant coach positions that Bielema keeps at the ready should he need to hire one.

Dan Enos wasn't on that list when Bielema searched for an offensive coordinator this offseason, but for good reason. Enos was Central Michigan's head coach at the time. Bielema is always willing to go beyond the list in certain circumstances.

When Enos asked Bielema about the offensive coordinator position -- which was vacated by Jim Chaney, who is now at Pitt -- Bielema was surprised.

"I said, 'Are you serious?'" Bielema recalls. "'I would love to talk.' So we kind of did it, double secret quiet probation."

Bielema discussed the job, coaching philosophies and more when the two crossed paths at the American Football Coaches Association's annual convention in January. The pair turned out to be a solid fit. Bielema said when he watched Central Michigan's offense on film, it was "almost like watching us." And he liked Enos' background as a college quarterback and teacher of the position.

So Enos made the move.

"We just felt it was the right time," Enos said. "I felt this was a great opportunity, that was the reason why. It wasn't like I sat down and said, 'I don't want to be a head coach anymore. I want to be an offensive coordinator.' The opportunity arose and as we investigated and looked into it and for my wife and my children and myself, at this time in our lives, we thought it was a good time for a change and we thought this was a great opportunity."

The job actually included a raise -- he'll earn a $550,000 salary as Arkansas' offensive coordinator, compared to a $360,000 salary as Central Michigan's head coach. Additionally, Enos -- who spent much of his coaching career in Big Ten country and was a quarterback at Michigan State -- has a healthy respect for Bielema.

"His reputation and what he's accomplished throughout his career as an assistant coach and as a head coach, that was the first draw," Enos said. "Then when I started to investigate the University of Arkansas and the Fayetteville community and everything like that, it really became a no-brainer."

In his new position, Enos is responsible for improving a passing attack that ranked 100th in the country and 11th in the SEC. The Razorbacks are equipped with one of the nation's best offensive lines and a running back tandem that was the only one in the country where each back rushed for 1,000 yards last season in Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams.

Helping fine tune the game of fifth-year senior quarterback Brandon Allen and improving the production of the receiving corps is among Enos' primary tasks. In Allen, Enos is extremely confident.

"I think that everybody around here that's been with him the last two years, I don't want to speak for them, but all the ones I've talked to, I think would agree with me that he can [win a game for you]," Enos said. "The offensive coaches, the head coach, they have not wavered since I was investigating this job before I was even hired, the way they talk about Brandon Allen before I got here and since I've been here, is just glowing, on how much support they have for him."

Enos wants his offense to be balanced. Not necessarily running the ball 50 percent of the time and throwing the other 50 percent but operating efficiently in both areas and proving they can win both ways.

"What I've really challenged our players about is let's be great at both. Let's be a great running team, let's be a great passing team," he said. "That way when we get into games, how the game is dictated, the flow of the game, we'll have an opportunity and give ourselves the best chance to be successful and help our team ultimately win."

Some concepts have changed, primarily with how the Razorbacks run routes. Initially it was a difficult transition in the early days of spring football but by the end, players began to understand the concepts and buy in to them.

"We're going to do a lot of the same general stuff conceptually, but a lot of different things: different reads, different stuff in our repertoire, making reads of coverages while we're running routes, which I like to do," junior tight end Hunter Henry said. "So that'll be unique whereas last year we weren't be able to do that. It'll be kind of fun to be able to find different things in defenses."

Players also find Enos to be energetic. Whether in the meeting room or on the practice field, his excitement level is usually high.

"Coach Enos is a fiery guy," left guard Sebastian Tretola said. "He's a run around, scream, 'Yeah, get juiced,' kind of guy. As a matter of fact, he was working out with us in the weight room the other day. He hopped in a workout. He's awesome. Energetic, always flying around and locked, cocked and ready to rock."

What were players' reactions when Enos jumped in their weight room workout?

"There was definitely a little bit of surprise like, 'What is he doing?'" Tretola said with a laugh. "But he handled it well. He was doing curls and push-ups. He was solid."

His most important impact could come on Allen, who could be the key to the Razorbacks being able to take the next step forward. Bielema is confident in his new offensive coordinator's ability to connect with his quarterback.

"He's an excellent teacher, just a pure dynamics of throwing the football," Bielema said. "How to handle it, how to manage your eyes, how to manage your footwork. And then he's got tremendous rapport with our players. He walked in and had some street cred right away that was pretty impressive and it still impresses me today."