FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman was able to retain his three coordinators in the offseason, but has five new assistants from the 2020 season.
The five assistants left for various reasons with two of them opting to return home. Justin Stepp coached the wide receivers and took a job at South Carolina. Then later in the spring Brad Davis opted to go to LSU. Davis coached the offensive line.
Kenny Guiton was hired to replace Stepp. Cody Kennedy was hired to coach tight ends, but when Davis left Pittman shifted him to the offensive line. When Kennedy shifted to the offensive line then Pittman hired Dowell Loggains who was at Penn State. Loggains has been an offensive coordinator with four different NFL teams. Michael Scherer was promoted to coach the linebackers while Jermial Ashley was hired from Tulsa for the defensive line. How are all the new coaches doing so far?
“It’s hard to answer that question without being critical of who you had before,” Pittman said following Friday’s practice. “So, I don’t want to make it like that. What I do want to say is Coach Ashley was here in the spring, and Kenny (Cody Kennedy). The new guy would’ve been Dowell. He’s really learned quick. He’s done a really good job in recruiting, getting alumni back here and obviously has a wealth of knowledge. He’s helping us offensively as well as with the tight ends. I think they really respect him. Coach Kennedy has done the same thing since June 3. He’s won the trust of those kids. They played well today.
“Coach Scherer was here in the spring, so they’ve had time to do that. For hiring, basically moving, a coach on staff June 3 and hiring somebody somewhere probably around the 12th, I think it went really smooth. That’s not a credit to me. It’s a credit to our coordinators and how hard these guys work and how important Arkansas and the game of football are to them.”
One thing noticeable in the first practice was the coaches trying to remain positive and build up the players instead of maybe tearing them down for a mistake.
“I’m the worst one out there,” Pittman said. “I hired guys because of the way they talk to kids and how they can relate to kids and how they can motivate kids and how they can teach them. I think that’s exactly what we have. I want a guy that if we make a mistake here, it’s ‘Hey, I’m going to teach you how to do something right.’ Then if he does something great I want that coach to be the loudest he can possibly be at practice because other kids can see that as well and they’ll want the same thing coming their way.
“I love our coaches. I think they work hard, I think they’re knowledgeable, and more important than anything, I think they can get their kids to play for them because they respect them by the way that, you know our mouth is very, very powerful. And the way that they talk to kids, I think they respect that.”
Senior linebacker Bumper Pool was quick to give Pittman plenty of credit for the staff.
“Coach Pittman does a fantastic job of not only getting us prepared but getting our coaches exactly in line with what he wants,” Pool said. “I think there’s no conflict among our coaching staff. We have a bunch of great coaches who mesh well, and ultimately, they have the same vision. I think that just comes from Coach Pittman being such a great person. They want to coach hard for him, and he wants to be a great head coach for all his assistant coaches. It kind of just trickles down throughout the whole team. Our coaches have a very strong demeanor. They want to win as much as we do and as much as Coach Pittman does.”
Arkansas will return to the practices this afternoon.