Dan Enos isn’t like Tosh Lupoi, Jeremy Pruitt or some other current or former Alabama coaches.
He’s not a yeller or someone who will be throwing headsets or slamming clipboards.
Enos, as one college football coach put it, is kind of like Alabama’s version of LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda — calm, low-key, highly intelligent and a hell of a football coach.
The former Arkansas offensive coordinator is one of the Crimson Tide’s unsung heroes, someone who has proven to be a big-time difference-maker for Alabama’s quarterbacks, including the Tide’s Heisman Trophy frontrunner.
“I think the biggest thing is the preparation and preparation that whatever the play is, whatever the call is, that the quarterbacks have a very clearly defined read of what their expectation is on that play and that they don’t pre-determine things before the snap and they develop confidence in going through that read progression so you’re getting the ball in the right place at the right time,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Our guys have done a pretty good job of that, but I think Dan has really helped them understand exactly what the expectation is on every play. And that comes through really good teaching and preparation through the course of the week.”
Saban had been interested in Enos for a while, according to sources, and was aggressive in pursuing him this past offseason, even after Enos joined Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan.
A former head coach at Central Michigan, Enos is highly respected in the coaching world and — according to some coaches — is viewed as an NFL-level quarterback developer.
That’s why the former Michigan State quarterback was in high demand once Arkansas let go Bret Bielema and his staff. Enos had multiple FBS offensive coordinator offers, including one from Rutgers, but instead took an assistant coach job at Michigan before ultimately landing at Alabama in late January.
While some of the Tide’s previous quarterback coaches were successful as Alabama’s offensive play-caller, Saban wanted more from a quarterback development standpoint. So he targeted Enos.
Unlike previous Alabama quarterback coaches, Enos only has one responsibility. He’s not the offensive coordinator. His one job is coaching the QBs, something made possible by the new NCAA rule that allows teams to add a 10th assistant coach.
“It’s been a lot better because we have someone specified to just our position,” Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said. “He’s working with us constantly, not having to worry about calling plays, too. Coach Enos has done a really good job with all of us, and we’re grateful to have him.”
Enos, who is reportedly a candidate for Kansas’ head coach opening, is known for being very organized as well as for being great with Xs and Os and at helping to improve a quarterback’s mechanics. He also uses drills that simulate game-like situations.
The QBs work a lot on the progression of their reads on run-pass option plays while also doing drills that focus on movement in the pocket, quick releases and throwing on the run. They also use nets to simulate throwing over a jumping linebacker. Enos will set up one of the big nets and then have another one 10 to 15 yards or so behind it. Quarterbacks will have to throw over the one net and get the ball into one of the pockets in the net behind it, whether it’s throwing a crossing route, corner route or another type of route.
The quarterbacks have so much respect for Enos that, according to sources, he factored into Jalen Hurts’ decision to play out this season with the Tide instead of redshirting. Word is Hurts wanted to continue to learn from Enos rather than going down to scout team and not receiving the same level of coaching, even though that meant sacrificing the year of eligibility.
Hurts’ quarterback rating in 2016 was 139.1. Last year, it was 150.7. This year, while playing some as Tagovailoa’s backup, it’s up to 190.5. People at Alabama feel Enos has helped Hurts take a significant step forward as a quarterback. They feel the other QBs have gotten better, too.
At LSU, Aranda has been described as “The Defensive Coordinator Whisperer.”
One Alabama insider described Enos the same type of way. His impact with the Tide quarterbacks has been that respected and that significant.
“He’s a great, great, great quarterback coach,” that Alabama insider said. “He’s a one a kind quarterback whisperer.”
Matt Zenitz is an Alabama and Auburn reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mzenitz.