DESTIN, Fla. — Bret Bielema arrived at Arkansas from Wisconsin with a reputation for power football.
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney arrived at Arkansas from Tennessee better known for passing than power.
But the offensive union doesn’t seem as odd when Arkansas’ first-year coach explains his offensive philosophy, which isn’t limited to bludgeoning an opponent into submission at the line of scrimmage.
“We had a lot of conversations about where I wanted to go (offensively),” Bielema said Tuesday at the SEC spring meetings. “I love the word ‘balance.’ We want to have balance running and throwing the football.
“I think (the players) thought we were going to be a grind-it-out running team. But they realized where we’re going together.”
While Bielema is counting on Chaney to provide balance from the passing side, he will rely on another former Tennessee assistant coach to produce the same physical running game Bielema implemented with great success at Wisconsin.
“Sam Pittman has had one of the biggest effects on our team with what he was able to bring to the table,” Bielema said of the offensive line coach under former UT coach Derek Dooley. “How we put a hat on a hat and move people off the line.
“He’s a tremendous recruiter and a great personality.”
Reshaping the offensive line in Wisconsin’s image isn’t solely a matter of coaching. It’s also about recruiting.
“We don’t have the same type of people right now, especially up front (as Wisconsin did),” Bielema said. “There hasn’t been a really huge emphasis on being big and strong up front. We’ll gradually grow that position.”
Chaney, who is a former offensive line coach, and Pittman will have a chance to expedite the growth process.
Bielema gained a respect for Chaney when Chaney was the offensive coordinator at Purdue. He became familiar with Pittman on the recruiting trail.
He liked them more after they enhanced their credentials at Tennessee.
“I loved the experience they had in the SEC already that would allow me as a rookie coach to have somebody to lean on,” Bielema said.