Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Although it’s only been a couple of years since Dave Schramm concluded a lengthy tenure as a University of Utah assistant coach, the Fresno State offensive coordinator claims he isn’t all that excited about Saturday’s return to Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“No, not really. Not having to go in there and play those guys,” Schramm said. “If I was going skiing or something, or going back and seeing friends, it might be a little different. I’d be excited about it. But we’ve got our hands full.”
Schramm worked for the Utes from 2005-11 and explained that he knows their defensive guys well. As such, he’s expecting everything they’ve got.
“Having been there for seven years I know we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Schramm said. “Those guys do such a great job on defense.”
Utah’s defense is sound in what it does, he added, and there’s always a wrinkle here-and-there that offenses must adjust to on game day.
Schramm doesn’t know if past familiarity is any sort of advantage, other than knowing that the Utes have good coaches.
“You’re not going to slide anything by them,” he said. “They’re going to be ready for anything. They always are.”
There’s mutual respect on that front as the Utes (1-0) and Bulldogs (0-1) prepare to meet.
“Dave did a great job for us while he was here, one of the top running back coaches in the country, and he was an excellent recruiter,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “He just did a solid job for us.”
Whittingham also had good things to say about Schramm’s offenses at Fresno State.
“They’ve been very productive and explosive,” Whittingham said. “He has done a great job over there.”
In 2013, Schramm coordinated a Bulldogs offense led by quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Davante Adams. The duo wound up being second-round NFL draft picks.
Fresno State led the nation with 394.8 yards passing per game. The Bulldogs were third in total offense with 547.8 yards per game and sixth in scoring with 43.4 points per outing. They racked up 822 yards against New Mexico and had six games with more than 600 yards of total offense.
The previous season — when Schramm became coordinator — Fresno State averaged 477.5 yards of total offense, 325.6 passing yards and 37.9 points. Running back Robbie Rouse rushed for 1,490 yards.
“It’s been good, it’s been fun,” said Schramm, who added that things in Fresno have been great and that the community has been really supportive.
Schramm’s offensive scheme has been described as an up-tempo scheme that puts the ball in the hands of playmakers.
“That is exactly it. That’s our philosophy,” he said. “Our offense isn’t really about the plays, it’s about the players.”
Schramm explained that in Fresno State’s system, the quarterback is like a point guard seeking to distribute the ball and looking for one-on-one matchups.
“We try to get the ball to the guys that can make plays as fast as we can get it to them, as many times as we can get it to them,” Schramm said.
It worked well the past two seasons. Schramm credits former Fresno State coach Pat Hill for doing a great job of having so many great juniors and seniors in the program who adapted quickly to the system and executed it. Carr and company came within a game of most likely reaching a BCS game last season.
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