A View From The Booth – February 13th Edition
“It’s not about the money, it’s about coaching, and I’m a coach. It’s all I’ve done all my life. Making me sit out last year made it appreciate it even more.” – Dennis Erickson
For the fifth time in as many years, Utah Head Football Coach Kyle Whittingham has named a new offensive coordinator. For the second time in his tenure he will have Co-Offensive Coordinators. The latest appointee, Dennis Erickson, will wear the label as Co-Coordinator with Brian Johnson, but having spent the last 30 years as a head coach and bringing an impressive offensive resume to Utah, I would expect he’s more than just a Co-Coordinator.
So just what should Utah Football fans expect from the Dennis Erickson offense next season? When he joined me on the radio this week, he talked like a man that knew his personnel and knew exactly what he wanted to do offensively. Erickson told me he wants to run a “spread” offense: three receivers, one back, a little tight end and most importantly moving the quarterback around. This should come as music to the ears of Ute fans that have pined for the days of spreading the field the way Mike Sanford and Andy Ludwig did for Utah over the last decade, when Alex Smith and Brian Johnson led high powered offensive attacks for the Utes.
There’s no denying Erickson’s pedigree with offensive football, simply look to his squads at Washington State, Miami, Oregon State and most recently at Arizona State. The only question is: Does Utah has the personnel right now to run effectively what Erickson wants? He believes he does, but won’t know for sure until he sees his guys on the field in spring football practice. Erickson was extremely complimentary of quarterback Travis Wilson in our conversation Monday afternoon, comparing him in some ways to his last quarterback at Arizona State, Brock Osweiler, who’s now with the Denver Broncos. At the very least, he will have options at a number of positions:
At Quarterback: Travis Wilson will come into the spring with the most experience on the roster having played in 12 games, staring the last seven. Freshman Brandon Cox, a dual threat QB, from Pasadena, California is enrolled and will participate in spring ball. This summer Connor Manning, a pro style QB, from Orange County, California will join the quarterback crew. Expect both Cox and Manning to push Wilson for playing time.
At Wide Receiver: The depth here for Dennis Erickson is immense. Kenneth Scott, Dres Anderson, Anthony Denham, Quinton Pedroza are all returners, plus the addition of JC All American Andre Lewis should give Erickson/Johnson and the Utah offense a fair number of play making options down the field.
At Running Back: This is where Erickson will likely have the most question marks coming into the season. Utah doesn’t have a clear cut playmaker in this group with the departure of John White. Kelvin York, Lucky Radley, JC Transfer Devontae Booker and freshmen Marcus Williams and Dre’Vian Young will all compete for playing time, but this is clearly one of the big question marks heading into spring football.
Dennis Erickson told me that he believes the talent is there to compete and challenge next season in the PAC 12 South. Now comes the interesting part..Watching him and Brian Johnson mold that talent to fit their new philosophy.