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Whittingham To Run Unorthodox Utes Offense

By Rhett Wilkinson




Dennis Erickson, the former Arizona State coach, is only co-offensive coordinator, but he'll run the show as former offensive coordinator Brian Johnson got a demotion. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.
Dennis Erickson, the former Arizona State coach, is only co-offensive coordinator, but he'll run the show as former offensive coordinator Brian Johnson got a demotion. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

This fall, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham will see perhaps the most unorthodox offense of his 28-year football career.

It’s his own.

The Utes’ offense ranked just 105th out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams last season after Whittingham appointed Brian Johnson to offensive coordinator in February 2012. Already known as the quarterback who led the Utes to a 2009 Sugar Bowl beat-down of Alabama, Johnson became the youngest in the FBS to hold the position just two weeks before his 25th birthday.

In a sense, Whittingham has now rescinded that appointment, having made Johnson a “co-offensive coordinator” after persuading Dennis Erickson, a former NFL and FBS head coach, to return to the sidelines after sitting out the 2012 season and join Johnson in handling the offense. The previous year, Erickson was fired from Arizona State after a 6-7 campaign.

To emulate even their 8-5 season from 2011 — when Utah’s first Pac-12 season ended in a Sun Bowl win — a handful of key offensive players must produce more than the Utes’ veteran players did last season. Most didn’t even figure into the equation to start that 5-7 affair, which saw three different players start games under center.

What follows is a look at the Utes who will run that offense.