HOOVER, Ala. — The night before Sam Pittman left for Georgia, “most” of the offensive linemen at Arkansas went to Pittman’s house to try to get him to stay.
“And the next day he was just gone,” tight end Jeremy Sprinkle said. “It was kind of weird for awhile.”
While Georgia’s defense has a definite Alabama imprint on it, the offense is very Arkansas, with Pittman (who was Arkansas’ O-line coach from 2013-15) and Jim Chaney (its offensive coordinator from 2013-14) being hired away by Georgia’s Kirby Smart.
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema still sounds a bit annoyed about it, and wouldn’t elaborate on what Georgia is getting in the combo. But Sprinkle, who spent a couple years around Pittman and Chaney, has fond memories.
“They were always pretty funny, cracking jokes with each other,” Sprinkle said. “Because I guess they had history with each other at Tennessee, and they brought that chemistry over, and it was pretty good to be a part of that system.”
But Sprinkle was happy that Georgia didn’t lure away offensive coordinator Dan Enos, who replaced Chaney in 2015. Enos kept most of the run-game concepts, but he added more to the passing game, according to Sprinkle.
“That really helped us, and really improved our passing game,” Sprinkle said.
Arkansas improved to the nation’s 32nd-ranked passing offense last year, after ranking 102nd under Chaney in 2014.
Still, the tight end position flourished at Arkansas under Chaney, with Hunter Henry putting up big numbers. Smart has talked about Chaney’s use of the tight ends as a big attraction to him. Sprinkle was asked what he remembers Chaney doing to get his position so involved.
“I would say most of the play-action game, what he does out in space, to get us open and things like that,” Sprinkle said.
Meanwhile, even though he’s a tight end, Sprinkle got to know Pittman too, as Pittman likes to have the tight ends work in practice with the offensive line. Pittman has been doing that at Georgia as well.
“Working together on combination blocks and things like that. Getting that chemistry good,” Sprinkle said. “He has us work on the left and right sides with him, just make sure we can work left and right.”