Brad Davis sparking 'day and night' difference for Arkansas offensive line
FAYETTEVILLE — Considering Arkansas’ struggles on the offensive line over the past four seasons, the hiring of Sam Pittman gave fans hope that at least that area would see marked improvement in 2020.
A long-time offensive line coach who has developed a reputation for being among the best in his profession, the first-year coach was in charge of the Razorbacks’ unit when it led the SEC in fewest sacks allowed between 2013-15.
However, Pittman has been adamant about coaching the entire team and not focusing solely on the offensive line. For that job, he told players he intended to hire the best possible candidate to coach them.
That turned out to be Brad Davis, who both played for and coached under Pittman before becoming an SEC offensive line coach himself. He brought three years of SEC experience to Fayetteville, spending the last two years at Missouri after a one-year stop at Florida.
So far, the early reviews of Davis are positive. Offensive lineman Dalton Wagner, who is competing for the starting job at right tackle, said he has noticed a “night and day difference” in the unit under his leadership.
“He's unbelievable in how much he teaches you,” Wagner said. “He's a technician. He teaches fractions of seconds and the difference in that and losing. His expectations for our group - for everybody in that group - is so high. All you want to try to do is try to beat those expectations.”
Wagner added that Davis preaches straining and pushing yourself to the point of being uncomfortable, with the intent of making practices harder than games.
“The moment you get comfortable in this game is the moment you're going to get beat, the moment you're going to lose on national television,” Wagner said. “Coach Davis pushes us outside our comfort level every day.”
Although fans have consistently talked about being excited to see a Pittman-coached offensive line, the head coach has reiterated through camp that it is Davis’ group.
Even when Davis missed about a week of fall camp because of a “pre-existing condition,” Pittman said he was careful not to overstep while leading the unit in practice because he didn’t want the players to lose trust in their position coach.
Like any position, though, Pittman will occasionally stop by during drills and give some input.
“Coach Pittman can give you some little pointers when he's not coaching other guys and not going around practice,” Wagner said. “Him and Coach Davis are always on the same page. He has all his faith in Coach Davis.”
Coming off a four-year stretch in which the Razorbacks have fielded one of the worst offensive lines in the conference, expectations are high for this year’s unit. Players have bulked up over the offseason and left tackle Myron Cunningham has been discussed as a possible NFL Draft pick.
As much as the fans are hoping for improvement, it pales in comparison to what Davis is looking for out of his room.
“Coach Davis, his expectations are way higher than anybody has ever had for us before,” Wagner said. “He demands perfection in everything he does. He coaches us as hard as he can because he wants us to be successful.”