Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Dennis Erickson is eager to return to the University of Utah football program next season. The veteran coach, who joined the staff this year as a co-offensive coordinator with Brian Johnson, made his intentions clear when asked about it as the Utes prepared for Saturday’s season finale against Colorado.
“Of course,” Erickson said. “That’s my plan.”
The 66-year-old, who coached Miami (Fla.) to national championships in 1989 and 1991, is determined to get the program on track offensively.
“We’ve got a job to finish here,” said Erickson, who noted that things have just gotten started. “I’m excited about playing this game Saturday and recruiting and next year and whatever.”
Despite the difficulties associated with Utah’s 4-7 season, Erickson is confident things will turn around.
“We’ll get it done around here,” he said, while acknowledging that the offense hasn’t been as consistent as he would have liked, or as it should have been this season. “We’ll get that corrected starting this Saturday. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but there’s a lot of good football players here and we’ll get it done.”
Although Erickson noted it’s been a tough year for the Utes with so many different things happening and a lot of close losses — as is the case with other teams, he said — they can’t be used as excuses.
As for Utah’s quarterback situation, which is unclear considering that starter Travis Wilson’s health status won’t be known for at least three months, Erickson doesn’t believe it’s time to panic.
“I think we’re just going to have to wait and see how things happen when the season’s over with. That’s a decision that coach (Kyle Whittingham) will make and we’ll all make together as a group,” Erickson said. “I like our young guys and I think they’ve got great futures ahead of them.”
Current starter Adam Schulz will be back for his junior year, while Conner Manning, Brandon Cox and Micah Thomas are true freshmen that are redshirting this season.
TEAM FIRST: Junior receiver Dres Anderson can take sole possession of a school record that he currently shares with two others if he reaches 100 yards receiving against Colorado. Anderson has reached the milestone in six games this season, matching Dennis Smith (1989) and Louis Thomas (1968) for the most in team history.
“It would be amazing, but I’m just trying to do the best I can for my team to get us a win,” Anderson said. “That’s all that matters to me.”
All things considered, though, Anderson wouldn’t mind walking off the field Saturday with the win and the record.
“Both would be cool,” he said. “But as long as we get the win I’ll be OK.”
EXTRA POINTS: The Utes plan to practice early Thursday and be done by 11 a.m., allowing the team to head off for Thanksgiving gatherings. They’ll reunite again Friday afternoon ... Offensive linemen Vyncent Jones, Jeremiah Poutasi and Jeremiah Tofaeono have not missed an offensive snap for the past eight games ... This is will be just the third meeting since 1962 between Colorado and Utah.
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