Razorbacks Report:

Enos sees uptick in run game

By: Bob Holt , Tom Murphy
Published: Sunday, August 27, 2017
Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos speaks Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, with linebacker Karl Roesler prior to the start of a scrimmage in Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos speaks Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, with linebacker Karl Roesler prior to the start of a scrimmage in Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- After a sketchy start with the running game for the Arkansas Razorbacks' offensive starters the first couple of weeks, coordinator Dan Enos saw an upswing toward the end of camp.

"It's been good, once we honed in on Florida A&M and the game plan there," Enos said. "Blocking the structure our defense plays and blocking the structure in our first game is really two different things. So it's been good.

"We have really challenged them physically, and I think our backs are doing a much better job. We're playing really three new backs."

Sophomore Devwah Whaley is coming off a 602-yard season, while senior transfer David Williams and freshmen Chase Hayden and Maleek Williams are all newcomers.

"Chase and Maleek, to understand the tempo, landmarks, reads, footwork, it's a work in progress," Enos said. "It doesn't happen overnight, but they have been very good. Coach [Reggie] Mitchell has done a good job and each day I see us doing things a little bit better."

Arkansas is looking to improve on its average of 164.2 rushing yards per game, which ranked 11th in the SEC and 77th in the FBS.

"If you aren't moving people up front it's hard to move the ball because there's no seams," Enos said. "That's running game 101. But the big thing we've been emphasizing is the backs be in sync with the offensive line and the tight ends and everyone understanding the physicality and strain it takes to run the ball."

Close race

The extended practice time available in training camp for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville benefited redshirt freshman quarterback Cole Kelley, offensive coordinator Dan Enos said.

Coach Bret Bielema announced Wednesday that Kelley had edged out redshirt sophomore Ty Storey for the No. 2 quarterback job after a tight competition in camp, which was extended by a little more than a week due to new NCAA rules.

"It was close," Enos said. "It was back and forth. I think the extended camp was really good for that reason, to have extra opportunities for evaluations."

The extra practice days allowed Enos to rest starter Austin Allen, who led the SEC with 3,430 passing yards last season, and give Storey and Kelley more work with the starting offense.

"I think in the last week or so we just saw Cole take a step forward," Enos said Friday. "He made some really good plays and raised his consistency level from day to day. He did a really, really good job."

Bielema and Enos said the competition behind Allen will continue throughout the season and could yield a different depth chart on a week-to-week basis.

"It's important that no complacency sets in for either one of them," Enos said. "We feel really good about both of them, but at this point we think Cole took a step that was real positive. Certainly both those guys will continue to work hard, get reps and continue to improve each week."

Listen up

Arkansas' quarterbacks have been using helmets with earpieces in preseason practices the past two years to get instructions from offensive coordinator Dan Enos.

"I think it's a good teaching tool early on, but you don't want to get addicted to it," Coach Bret Bielema said. "Until they change the rule and you get them in there full time, you don't want it to be a Band-Aid for them."

NCAA rules do not allow quarterbacks to use an earpiece in games, as NFL teams do, but Bielema said that might change soon.

"I'm on the rules committee, and I think the last three years we've been right on the cusp," he said. "I think we're probably very close. A year ago, they actually passed a rule that would allow us to use electronics on the sidelines, and then they came in and rescinded it about two months later just because they realized the cost factor.

"My guess is the Power 5 will continue to flex their muscle and allow things to start happening without financial restrictions, and I think that would be one."

Enos said he'd love for quarterbacks to be wired up in games so he wouldn't have to take time teaching them how to read signals from the sideline.

"If we had the earpiece mechanism, we could just call the plays that way," Enos said. "I wouldn't have to spend any time teaching signals. I could just teach them coverages, footwork, drops. We're limited on time anyway."

Enos said using earpieces is a valuable teaching tool in practice, but not always appreciated by the quarterbacks.

"I'm glad it doesn't have a microphone where I can hear what they say back to me," he said while laughing. "I think they like it to a certain extent. I think there's some benefit, especially for the young players, for communication. The big thing I try to do is just reminders.

"I do think there's a place for them and hopefully, eventually, in college football we'll be using them on a permanent basis."

Return game

Sophomore receiver Deon Stewart is working as the team's primary kickoff returner with Jonathan Nance working as the off man who also lines up deep.

"Jonathan's blocking for me," Stewart said. "But if they decide to kick it to him, then I'll block for him."

Bret Bielema said in addition to return formations with Stewart and Nance, the Razorbacks also have worked with three deep men with receiver Jordan Jones added.

Other players who could return kickoffs include receivers Brandon Martin, De'Vion Warren and Jarrod Barnes.

Young corners

True freshmen Kamren Curl and Chevin Calloway are listed as backup cornerbacks and they will play, defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads said.

"They've earned their spots on the depth chart," Rhoads said. "It was a process to get there. We tested the whole group and got to the first scrimmage and then we had a little bit better idea.

"We got to the second scrimmage and felt real solid where we were at with those guys."

Rhoads said Curl and Calloway can play both right and left cornerback along with Britto Tutt, another backup behind starters Ryan Pulley and Henre Toliver.

Bielema on radio

Arkansas defensive backs Josh Liddell and Kevin Richardson will join Coach Bret Bielema on his radio show at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.

The show is being held earlier on Tuesday rather than the normal Thursday because the Razorbacks open against Florida A&M on Thursday.

Punt, pass

Redshirt freshman Cole Kelley is not only listed as Arkansas' backup quarterback, but also as the No. 2 punter behind Blake Johnson. Bret Bielema said Kelley's punting prowess is legit.

"You'll see when he hits them," Bielema said. "It'll probably surprise some people what he can do."

Bielema said Kelley not only has a strong leg but also good mechanics to get the punt off quickly.

"He's got a great operation time," Bielema said. "He works every day with the No. 2 snapper and all the operations we do during No. 2 punt."

Starting quarterback Austin Allen was the No. 2 punter for the final two games last season.

Multi-Morgan

Redshirt freshman Grant Morgan will be the top backup at both inside linebacker spots, Bret Bielema said.

Morgan, a walk-on from Greenwood and the younger brother of former Arkansas receiver Drew Morgan, has drawn praise from the coaches for his intelligence.

"Grant Morgan might be the smartest of the entire linebacker corps," defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads said. "He needs to be because if you were to describe his physical gifts, he's probably behind the rest of the group. But he might play as well as any of them because of the intelligence that allows him to play with a fast rate of speed."

Hawkeye clash

Arkansas' season opener against Florida A&M will pit a pair of Iowa alumni in the Razorbacks' Bret Bielema and Rattlers Coach Alex Wood, the former Arkansas quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator.

Bielema brought up the point in his talk to the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club on Wednesday, adding, "He graduated well before I did."

Wood is a 1978 graduate of the school in Iowa City, Iowa, while Bielema is a 1992 graduate.

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