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Tom Smart, Deseret News
Utah's Dennis Erickson, Co-Offensive Coordinator at University of Utah football practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, in Salt Lake City.
If a situation arises for me where I need some advice, there’s no better guy to go to and he’s right down the hall from me. So it’s been big and the players have really embraced him. —Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham, on co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson

SALT LAKE CITY — As co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson’s official debut with the Utes approaches, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said that his arrival on the staff has been a huge benefit to everyone — not just the offense.

Whittingham noted that Erickson is a guy who has been in just about every situation imaginable as a head coach. As such, he’s been a valuable sounding board.

“If a situation arises for me where I need some advice, there’s no better guy to go to and he’s right down the hall from me,” Whittingham said. “So it’s been big and the players have really embraced him.”

Erickson’s coaching resume is impressive. He won national championships at Miami in 1989 and 1991 and was the Sporting News Coach of the Year while at Oregon State in 2000. Other collegiate head coaching stints include Idaho, Wyoming, Washington State and Arizona State. Erickson also coached the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. He hasn’t been an assistant coach since serving as San Jose State’s offensive coordinator from 1979-81.

HERE AND THERE: Whittingham said that linebacker Brian Blechen’s status for Thursday’s game is uncertain. The senior has been battling tendinitis in camp. He’s listed as the co-starter at stud linebacker with Trevor Reilly, who also tops the depth chart at defensive end. Whittingham said that Reilly will be moving around and is expected to see action at both positions.

LIFE OF REILLY: Speaking of Reilly, the senior said his health is good and that he’ll “be 100 percent for the game.” The team captain had offseason knee surgery.

The 6-foot-5, 255-pounder is getting around so well, in fact, that he’s blended into the crowd on campus now that classes have started. Fellow students have pretty much left the 25-year-old alone, thus far.

“I don’t think they even know who I am a lot of the time,” Reilly said. “I look like a 40-year-old man, so they think I’m probably faculty or something.”

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EX-UTE IN THE BOOTH: The Pac-12 Networks has announced that former Utah running back Jamal Anderson has joined its broadcast team as a football game analyst. He’ll make his debut Sept. 7 when the Utes take on Weber State.

EXTRA POINTS: Three ex-Utes were recently cut by NFL teams — defensive tackle Dave Kruger (Cleveland Browns), cornerback Moe Lee (Baltimore Ravens) and linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (Pittsburgh Steelers). ... Fans attending Thursday’s game are encouraged to participate in a “Stripe the Stadium” promotion. For more information visit utahutes.cstv.com. ... Standing-room-only tickets ($45) remain for the opener.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer