FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman is using the bye week to form a plan to turn the season around in the final month.
The situation got complicated when Pittman fired Dan Enos and moved Kenny Guiton from wide receivers to quarterback. The final straw for Enos was a 7-3 showing against Mississippi State that produced 200 yards of offense. Guiton will now call plays and coach KJ Jefferson and the other quarterbacks.
“Well, we obviously met this week, had a simulated practice yesterday, we’ll have (one) again today and then we’ll start Monday prep on Florida,” Pittman said Wednesday. “We’ve done a lot of film work on them as well. Obviously they haven’t played their latest game coming up against Georgia, but it’s been a good week. We’re trying to get some guys healed up and things of that nature. And obviously with an offensive coordinator change, we’re going through that, as well.”
One goal for Pittman and Guiton is to cut down the playbook leaving more of the efficient plays in. Pittman talked about how he’s going about doing that.
“I think you are right with what you’re saying,” Pittman said. “Obviously we did. We went to our most efficient runs and what they may be and then we looked at does that fit what Florida’s doing, like you would any weekly game plan. Certainly have talked to the quarterbacks, or KJ specifically, about what he feels good about running in the offense, about his throws, about his potential to run.
“And then we obviously have to take into consideration our offensive line, what we can do and what we’re not doing well. If we’re not doing it well, it doesn’t matter what the design of the play is, if we can’t block it, then it’s not going to have success. So we’ve obviously done a lot of soul searching inside, trying to find out how we can be an efficient offense and we’ll continue to work on that as we go forward.”
The offense has been the main culprit of the record. Arkansas’ defense and special teams has been very good for the most part of the season. To replace Guiton with the wide receivers, Pittman has promoted Derek Kief from Senior Offensive Quality Control to coach the group. Kief played wide receiver at Alabama and has experience coaching wide receivers in college per this story.
“He’s a mature guy,” Pittman said. “Has a good relationship with the kids. Knows the offense. Went through the offense. Knows the terminology. I think any time you make a change during the season, I think the biggest thing is the terminology is the same for the kids, do we have coaches that can coach that terminology, what we’re trying to get done, so they’re able to continue to play fast and things of that nature. He played in that system and he also has obviously been an analyst in that system, so he was an easy choice regarding that.”
Pittman talked about how the players have accepted the change.
“I think the kids are excited,” Pittman said. “Again, that’s nothing negative towards Coach Enos. It’s just I think they’re excited. Obviously, when things have been difficult, one of the answers is change. The other answer is to get better at what you’re doing and those things. And we’ve tried that. I feel like the kids feel like there’s the opportunity for new life maybe or whatever you want to say. We weren’t doing what we… our offense, we weren’t doing it well so the only way I knew how to do it was try to change it and certainly the kids have bought into that well the last two days.”
The Razorbacks don’t play until Nov. 4 when they take on Florida in Gainesville. Pittman feels Guiton has handled this week well.
“I think Kenny is ready,” Pittman said. “He obviously knows the offense. He’s more knowledgeable even than what I thought in the run game. Obviously, I’ve been in every meeting. I stepped out of the one I was in now to talk to y’all, but I’ll go right back to it. So, I’m trying to help him in every aspect I can in the running game. He’s ready for it, but more importantly than that, he believes that he’s ready for it and the players believe that he’s ready for it.
“I go back to Auburn last year and Cadillac (Willliams) going and him becoming the head coach, and you know they beat A&M, they beat Western Kentucky and they played Mississippi State real tough, who was a real fine team, on the road. We lost our spirit on offense and we’ve got to get it back. Kenny’s got great rapport with the kids, and he’s very knowledgeable and I think kids believe in him. That’ll make us play better right then and there. We obviously have to block them better and do things like that, but you also have to have the enthusiasm to do that and I think that’s what he’s bringing to our offensive staff.”
Pittman was once again asked why he feels Enos didn’t workout this stint with the Hogs?
“I can’t really put my finger on it because he’s a hell of a coach, a good man, and he’s had great success in his career,” Pittman said. “I really don’t know. Maybe we aren’t a pocket protection team. You know, we ran it, I don’t know, probably averaged 8-10 dropbacks a game in the previous three years. Maybe a little more when Felipe Franks was here.
“It’s just, our quarterback wasn’t great at just sitting in the pocket. Our wide outs weren’t getting open. We couldn’t protect. A lot of things. Maybe that’s part of it, but I just think everything was hard for us. Everything was very difficult. Three yards were very difficult. I don’t know exactly why, because Dan is a fine coach. So, I can’t really put my finger on it, but I do know we lost our spirit. How we did that, I can’t really put a finger on that, but we’ve got to get it back.”
The fact Enos was hired on a three-year contract and lasted just eight games does Pittman feel he will do anything different hiring the next offensive coordinator?
“I don’t think so,” Pittman said. “I mean, we hired a defensive coordinator when Barry (Odom) was fortunate enough to go get the job at UNLV, and it worked out. Doing a great job. And we hired an offensive coordinator, and for whatever reason, it didn’t. I don’t think so, because I liked the offense they were running at Maryland. I liked the offense we ran when I was with Dan here. You hate to admit that it didn’t work out and that you did your research on what you thought was correct, but I did, and it didn’t work out, so I don’t know that I would change the way I made the hire, so no.”
Arkansas and Florida will be televised on ESPN2 and kickoff set for 11 a.m.