FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman fired Dan Enos following the 7-3 loss to Mississippi State in Arkansas’ last outing.
The Hogs had a bye week to help prepare Kenny Guiton for the offensive coordinator job. He was promoted from coaching wide receivers to quarterbacks following Enos’ dismissal. On Wednesday, Pittman talked about how the Hogs are preparing Guiton for the task at hand on Saturday.
“We’ve done a lot of non-scripted plays so Kenny can kind of get in a groove of moving the ball and second-and-this, so he can have opportunities…we’ve done several two-minutes,” Pittman said. “Yesterday we had a third-and-6 situation with 22 seconds left. Just did a situation so we could talk through that as well. We were in no timeouts, toro alert, what are you going to call to get the ball out of bounds? Are you going to call something to get a first down and then are we going to kill it?
“You know, all these type things that I think will help him and help his calmness. We’ve been working on all those things. He’s been very, very good in those situations [and] very, very good in the three two-minute periods that we’ve ran, and in moving the ball, moving the chains. It’s easy to look down at your piece of paper and call a play. It’s harder if you just now know it’s second-and-8, what am I going to call? We just put him in those situations and I think he’s done really well.”
Pittman said it appears the players have rallied aound Guiton.
“The way that they practiced would be the No. 1 thing,” Pittman said. “Practices were moving faster, were more physical. That may have something to do with a lot of other coaches as well, but you can feel it a little bit that the kids have embraced change. I’m saying a lot of that is probably because of Kenny.”
Pittman has made no secret of the playbook being reduced following Enos’ dismissal. Arkansas’ offensive line has experienced issues this season and Pittman was asked if the communication (or lack thereof) was part of the issue?
“Yeah, it really was,” Pittman said with a long pause. “Yeah. I don’t want to get in it… I don’t really want to go back too far. But yes. I don’t know what to say to that. I don’t want to say anything else about that to be honest with you. Sorry. It was a good question. I just…”
How much has the offensive line progressed this season?
“Well obviously we haven’t had as much success as an offense, for a lot of reasons, but we haven’t played well up front this year,” Pittman said. “I think the kids understand that, well I know they do. Playing well means playing all together, and you have to add the tight ends into that as well. So we’re a work in progress and we’ve got to get better. We understand that and we’re working at it really hard. It means we might need to cut down on some of the things we’re asking them to do, and maybe some of the plays that we’re running, maybe we didn’t have the capabilities of doing those up front. So we’ve certainly cut down our offense some, added some things to help those guys, but it’s all about determination, grit, passion, and we’ve got to get that back to that group and the entire offensive side of the ball and I believe we’re well headed in that direction.”
While Arkansas’ fans are anxious to see what Guiton and the offense can do it’s also causing an issue for Florida Coach Billy Napier. He’s having to prepare the Gators for an offensive coordinator who has no film to study.
“Well, I think you’re asking the question for the right reasons,” Napier said. “Certainly we’ve got a process that we began late last week in terms of …. In terms of prep. I think they’ve got a great group of players. Obviously the quarterback is a fantastic player. He’s a very accomplished, veteran player. Big, long up front. They can play with power. They have a unique group of skill players. So it is a challenge. I think for the same reason you’re asking the question, I think there are things that come with that. It’s kind of what I mentioned earlier that are a little bit unique. We’re working hard on it. I’ve got a ton of respect for Coach Guiton. He was a very accomplished player and he’s had a good career as an assistant coach and I know he’ll be excited for the opportunity.”
Arkansas and Florida will kickoff at 11 a.m. on Saturday and televised on ESPN2.