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With Erickson aboard, perhaps Utah's offense can now get some stability

Published February 11, 2013 11:09 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Utah Utes filled one need by bringing in a seasoned, experienced coach as a co-offensive coordinator with the hiring of Dennis Erickson on Monday. Now, perhaps, they can find some offensive consistency. New coaches, different philosophies and changing roles have prevented Utah's offense from forming a solid identity under coach Kyle Whittingham. Since he was hired as Utah's head coach in 2005, Whittingham has had Andy Ludwig (2005-08), Dave Schramm (2009, 2010 co-coordinator), Aaron Roderick (2010, passing game coordinator 2012), Norm Chow (2011) and Brian Johnson (2012) serve as either coordinator or co-coordinator. Now comes Erickson, who will share coordinating duties with Johnson. Roderick remains as the passing game coordinator, according to Utah officials, which makes one think, how many people does it take to run Utah's offense? Let us re-phrase that, how many people does it take to run Utah's offense well? Hopefully for Utah fans, three will be the magic number. Whittingham admitted last year Utah's coaching changes and quarterback changes led to poor production because of a lack of consistency. Players spoke out about it as well, noting Utah's frequent experimentation in various schemes and philosophies hampered their ability to develop within an offense. At 65-years-old, Erickson might not be looking at a lengthy stay with the Utes, but perhaps a two or three-year stint will be enough to help stabilize Utah's offensive philosophy and take some of the pressure off Johnson. Johnson had just two years of coaching experience, as a quarterbacks coach, before he was promoted to coordinator last year. Johnson might be a sharp, quick-learning coach, but it was clear last year that learning on the job in the Pac-12 wasn't an ideal situation. Throw in the career-ending injury to quarterback Jordan Wynn, the development of freshman Travis Wilson as the starter and it's no wonder the Utes struggled to get points on the board. The Utes averaged just 26.7 points in scoring, ranking only 73rd nationally. The last time the Utes had a formidable offense was 2008 when they averaged 36.9 points. That wasn't such a bad year, was it? That year marked the Johnson's playing highlight as he led the Utes to an undefeated season with his fiery attitude and instinctual play. Now, with Erickson in the ranks, perhaps Johnson can continue to be a leader on the field and a mentor to the young quarterbacks while Erickson and Roderick split the other duties. How their roles will be divided exactly has yet to be determined. However, one thing is certain, spring practice, which begins March 19, marks a new era for Utah's offense. Let's hope it is an era of stability. Offense under WhittinghamScoring OffenseYear Average National Ranking2012 - 26.7 - 73rd2011 - 25.0 - 74th2010 - 33.1 - 23rd2009 - 29.9 - 34th2008 - 36.9 - 15th2007 - 26.2 - 68th2006 - 27.9 - 33rd2005 - 30.0 - 36thTotal OffenseYear Average National Ranking2012 - 324.42 - 105th2011 - 310.9 - 109th2010 - 389.0 - 57th2009 - 389.5 - 54th2008 - 400.9 - 35th2007 - 369.9 - 79th2006 - 368.4 - 41st2005 - 473.0 - 12th




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