Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Coaching 'em up: Arkansas
By ESPN.com staff
Today's coaching spotlight shifts to Arkansas.
Coach: Chris Klenakis
Position: Offensive line
Experience: He's in his second season on Arkansas' staff. Klenakis was the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach for six seasons at Nevada prior to replacing Mike Summers at Arkansas in January 2010. Klenakis has 20 years of Division I experience. He served two different stints at Nevada and was also the Wolf Pack's offensive coordinator from 1997-99. From there, he went on to head up the offenses at Southern Miss and Central Missouri. During his two stints at Nevada, Klenakis became the first offensive coordinator in NCAA FBS history to have a team lead the nation in rushing offense (2009) and passing offense (1997).
Of note: Klenakis is regarded as the creator of the "Pistol" offense. ... Klenakis and Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino were teammates in the early 1980s at Carroll College in Helena, Mont. ... Fifteen offensive linemen coached by Klenakis have gone on to the NFL, including tackle DeMarcus Love, who was taken in the sixth round of this past April's NFL draft. ... Klenakis' name was mentioned last January in connection with the Texas offensive line job, which was eventually filled by former Georgia offensive line coach Stacy Searels.
His challenge: Petrino was determined to put some more pop in the running game, and Klenakis' arrival last season helped the Hogs do just that. Knile Davis led all SEC running backs with 1,322 rushing yards, and Arkansas was much more effective running the football. Klenakis will have another key challenge in 2011, and that's shoring up the two tackle positions. Gone are Ray Dominguez and Love, who combined for 70 starts the past three seasons. True freshman Brey Cook enrolled early and was impressive this spring. He's already one of the strongest players on the team, but it's never easy to get a true freshman ready to line up against some of the marquee pass-rushers an offensive tackle has to face on a weekly basis in this league. Yet, that will be Job No. 1 for Klenakis in the fall. In fact, Klenakis won't have much experience, period, to work with at tackle. Sophomore Anthony Oden received most of the first-team work at the other tackle spot in the spring opposite Cook. Junior college newcomer Jason Peacock and fifth-year senior Grant Freeman are also possibilities. Freeman had a pair of starts during the 2009 season. Oden also started a game in 2009 as a true freshman, but missed most of last season with mononucleosis and had to redshirt. There aren't any question marks in the middle of the Hogs' offensive line, not with sophomore center Travis Swanson and sophomore guard Alvin Bailey returning. But especially with a new quarterback taking over this season, how quickly those two new tackles develop will go a long way toward determining whether or not Arkansas will be a serious player in the Western Division race.