Sam Pittman knew exactly what he wanted to do on both sides of the ball when he got the job at Arkansas and that was do things the players could make work.
That may or may not be what most folks think.
“When we hire coordinators, you hire them to basically run their offense, but look and see where we can be successful,” Pittman said after the first night practice Thursday.
Maybe the biggest change in that from the last two coaching staffs is one took a year to put his system in place while the other planned to have enough players to do what he wanted in three or four years. He didn’t make it two.
Offensive coordinator Kendal Briles was hired after defensive coordinator Barry Odom, who worked with Pittman to get Briles on board.
A lot of people talk about “Briles’ offense,” but the guess is it probably won’t look like it has anywhere else simply because he has different players in Fayetteville
“Kendal has adjusted really well to our personnel, what we can do, what we can’t do,” Pittman said. “Different personnel, different formations, different things that we think we can do to take advantage of defenses.”
Which is the mark of good coaches. Having a great system is something developed after a few recruiting classes.
Right now flexibility is the key. The media and fans often spend way too much time talking about people that aren’t here … regardless of whether they’ve left or haven’t decided to come here yet.
Odom has been doing that his entire career on defense.
“He’s been so multiple his whole life I knew that he would adapt to who we have and he’s done that,” Pittman said.
You get the idea he was one of the first hires he finalized when he got the job. Pittman, as the offensive line coach at Arkansas and Georgia, has faced a Missouri defense every season since 2014.
“When we played against him here at Arkansas, over at Georgia or wherever it may be, his fronts were so multiple anyway that I knew he could adapt to what we had,” Pittman said.
Which is why you got the idea Thursday night listening to Pittman what they initially thought might be more of a 3-man front on defense could see more of a 4-man front.
Players like Julius Coates have stepped up and Odom has apparently adjusted fairly seamlessly.
“To be honest with you, coming in, we thought we needed to run possibly another front,” Pittman said. “We have some big guys now, so maybe we can get into a four-man line a little bit more than an odd front.”
That size is something on both sides Pittman wanted. He likes big guys
“Not big guys like me, he has said with a chuckle on a couple of occasions.
He wants big and fast and that task got handed to strength and conditioning coach Jamil Walker.
“I can’t give enough credit to Jamil Walker and his staff in the weight room really transforming some of those guys, especially up front,” Odom said back before fall camp got started.
That means he got players to buy into what he was selling in the first 100 days after he arrived in Fayetteville
And it says a lot about this group of players for making those changes. They’ve had to do it without the multi-million-dollar weight room in Fayetteville for most of the time due to the corona virus pandemic.
Ultimately, that may be the biggest change in this team. The difference above the shoulders may be dramatic.
One person who sees far more of what’s going on with this team than the media said earlier this week it’s a completely different look.
“Everything is vastly different … physically, tempo, attitude is all completely different,” was what I was told.
Which should be good news for Hog fans.