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Doug Robinson: It's a new season, but the Utes' challenge remains the same

Published: Sunday, Aug. 25 2013 3:55 p.m. MDT

Says Johnson, “We met after the season and went over what we did offensively. We felt like bringing in Coach Erickson and having his knowledge would be a great thing, and I’d get to learn from him.”

“When you have a chance to get Dennis Erickson, you take it,” says Whittingham.

Erickson will have the final say on offensive decisions, but will have input from Johnson. “Brian is outstanding,” says Erickson. He coaches like he plays, which is extremely well.”

To listen to Johnson and Whittingham, the offense’s issues might be as simple as a quarterback. Ask Johnson what the Utes’ biggest problem has been, he says, “Keeping quarterbacks healthy. I was the last quarterback to play the whole season. Quarterback is the most important position in all of sports.”

Since Johnson graduated in ’08, the Utes have had four players start at quarterback — Jordan Wynn, Terrence Cain, Jon Hays and Travis Wilson, who will start for the Utes this season.

“It’s such a quarterback-driven game,” says Whittingham. “If you don’t have that guy, you’ll struggle.”

Erickson has said from the beginning he wants to return the Utes to the spread offense roots of their glory days a few years ago, but with faster pace.

“We’re going to run shot gun, no huddle and keep it simple and fast and do what we do well,” he says. “We have five or six running plays we do well out of all formations. Our strength is the offensive front and tight ends.”

Asked how many points he expects the Utes to score, he says, “thirty (per game) would be a good number. With the fast-paced offense we’re going to be doing it would be a disappointment if we weren’t up around there.”

Anyway, these are the latest plans and hopes for rekindling the Ute offense as another season begins.

EMAIL: drob@deseretnews.com

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