Sunny side up

Enos: UM, Diaz ‘on the cusp of do­ing some great things’

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Sports - By Christy Cabr­era Chiri­nos ccabr­[email protected]­sen­tinel.com; On Twit­ter @ChristyChiri­nos.

CORAL GABLES — In his one sea­son as Alabama’s quar­ter­backs coach, Dan Enos helped groom Tua Tago­v­ailoa into a Heis­man Tro­phy fi­nal­ist.

His other high-pro­file pro­tege — Jalen Hurts — im­proved his game dra­mat­i­cally and came off the bench in the SEC Cham­pi­onship Game to lead the Crim­son Tide not only to a come-from-be­hind win over Ge­or­gia and a con­fer­ence ti­tle, but an­other berth in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off.

When for­mer Alabama of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike Lock­sley left Tuscaloosa to take the head coach­ing job at Mary­land, all signs started point­ing to Enos tak­ing over as Alabama’s new of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

Then first-year Mi­ami coach Manny Diaz en­tered the fray and of­fered Enos the op­por­tu­nity to be­come the Hur­ri­canes’ of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

Mi­ami couldn’t of­fer up the ros­ter of five-star prospects Alabama could. The Hur­ri­canes’ quar­ter­back sit­u­a­tion was un­der­whelm­ing last sea­son, with nei­ther Ma­lik Rosier or N’Kosi Perry do­ing enough to con­sis­tently hang on to the start­ing job. And Mi­ami posted some of the worst of­fen­sive num­bers in the coun­try in 2018, a fact only high­lighted by the Hur­ri­canes’ dis­mal per­for­mance in their em­bar­rass­ing sea­son-end­ing 35-3 loss to Wis­con­sin in the Pin­stripe Bowl less than two weeks ear­lier.

But some­how, with Alabama and even fel­low SEC power Ge­or­gia in­ter­ested, Diaz was able to bring Enos to Coral Gables. The hire, an­nounced Fri­day, cre­ated a buzz not only among Mi­ami fans, but across the south­east, where many col­lege foot­ball fans couldn’t help but won­der why Enos would give up the op­por­tu­nity to coach at a pow­er­house pro­gram with a proven win­ner in Nick Sa­ban to take over the of­fense at Mi­ami.

Enos, him­self, shared his thoughts on the topic Fri­day dur­ing a pod­cast with Sport­sTalk with Bo Mat­tingly in Arkansas.

“There’s so much more to it than just the naked eye of ‘Well, they have good play­ers com­ing back, why wouldn’t you want to stay there?’ That’s not how we can think, how I can think, how we can live our lives,” Enos told Mat­tingly.

“Our lives are about try­ing to do what’s best in the long run, for our fam­i­lies and for our sit­u­a­tions and also try­ing to bal­ance that with a ca­reer and be­ing able to do things and ac­com­plish goals that I would like to ac­com­plish. … The Mi­ami thing was less about Alabama and more about the Mi­ami sit­u­a­tion, how we just felt a re­ally strong pull to be there, to help a pro­gram that I be­lieve is on the cusp of do­ing some great things with a coach that has a great vi­sion.”

Both Diaz and Enos have men­tioned since Fri­day that nei­ther had any par­tic­u­larly deep con­nec­tions with each other be­fore their con­ver­sa­tions in re­cent days.

The two never coached or worked to­gether — but they did coach against each other and that, both have said, forged their mu­tual re­spect.

“I think that’s re­ally where it be­gan, just a re­spect for what he had done and some of the of­fenses that he had coached,” Diaz said after an­nounc­ing the hire. “But when sort of word got to me that he had an in­ter­est in our job, I was floored by that be­cause I had so much re­spect for him. And I un­der­stood where he was and that he had a good job.

“The fact he felt like the best thing for him and his fam­ily was to come to the Univer­sity of Mi­ami was quite hum­bling. Like I men­tioned, we had the chance to com­mu­ni­cate a few times and share what our vi­sion is of what type of en­vi­ron­ment we want to cre­ate in terms of some­thing great for the young men in the locker room and some­thing great for the staff.”

Added Enos, “We’d com­peted against each other. He has a great rep­u­ta­tion in this busi­ness as be­ing not only a very good coach, but a very good per­son, a very well rounded per­son with pri­or­i­ties and morals and ev­ery­thing all in the right place. [He’s] a fam­ily man. We com­peted against each other, so I think there was a re­spect there [that] he had for me, of hav­ing to pre­pare for of­fenses I’ve been a part of in the past as well. Again, once we started to talk and got deep into the dis­cus­sions philo­soph­i­cally on what he was look­ing for and what he ex­pected, and the vi­sion he had for the pro­gram and the of­fense, we just felt like it was go­ing to be a very good match.”

As to what’s next for Enos and the Hur­ri­canes’ of­fense, at this point, nei­ther coach has delved into specifics about the sys­tem that will be run mov­ing for­ward.

Diaz has made it clear he wants the Hur­ri­canes to be in­no­va­tive and ag­gres­sive and he be­lieves Enos — who ran a pro-style of­fense dur­ing his three years at Arkansas be­fore join­ing Sa­ban’s staff at Alabama — can de­liver on that.

At Arkansas, in 2015, Enos’ of­fense gen­er­ated

465.5 yards per game and

6.83 yards per play, which ranked 12th in the coun­try.

Those num­bers dropped to 428.4 and 6.03, re­spec­tively, in 2016 and

373.4 and 5.59 in 2017, but Arkansas was one of two FBS pro­grams that had both a 3,000-yard passer and 1,300-yard rusher in both 2015 and 2016, ac­cord­ing to Ba­maOn­line.com.

His track record even­tu­ally ap­pealed to Sa­ban enough to bring Enos to Tuscaloosa and ul­ti­mately, im­pressed Diaz, too.

“We brought Dan [in] for him to do what he be­lieves are the best ways to move the foot­ball and score points. Cer­tainly they’ve had a lot of suc­cess this past year at Alabama. He broke all kinds of records when he was coach­ing at Arkansas. He’s a very cre­ative play-caller, has a great knack for pre­sent­ing things that look the same and then hav­ing coun­ters off of those,” Diaz said. “Again, it’s hard to get into the specifics of [what] you’ll see ... dif­fer­ently for sure. But again, the main thing I want to see is I want to see a team that’s highly com­pet­i­tive. I want to see a team that plays with great tough­ness. I want to see a team that uses our speed and the ath­letes that we have to put con­stant stress on the de­fense that we play against.”

“The Mi­ami thing was less about Alabama and more about the Mi­ami sit­u­a­tion ... to help a pro­gram that I be­lieve is on the cusp of do­ing some great things with a coach that has a great vi­sion.” — New Mi­ami of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Dan Enos on a pod­cast with Sport­sTalk with Bo Mat­tingly in Arkansas

VASHA HUNT/AP

Dan Enos was in line to po­ten­tially be­come the Alabama’s next of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor. He de­cided to take that same job at Mi­ami with first-year coach Manny Diaz in­stead.

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