I’m proud of what I was able to contribute in the short time I was there, and I’m proud of Mike Riley and the program. I’ll always have great feelings for them and I had a lot of fun there. —Utah co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson, on his time as head coach at Oregon State
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson knows Oregon State very well. At least he knows the school and football program well.
Most folks remember Erickson from his days at Miami, his two stints in the NFL, or his most recent coaching job at Arizona State. But they forget he was the head coach at Oregon State from 1999 to 2002, when he compiled a 31-17 record.
When he took over in 1999, Erickson led the Beavers to their first winning record in 29 years, as they went 7-5 and received an invitation to the Oahu Bowl. In 2000-01, he led the Beavers to an 11-1 record, culminating in a convincing 41-9 Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame and a final No. 4 ranking in the country.
Erickson left to became the coach of the San Francisco 49ers for two years before returning to the college ranks for one year at Idaho and five years at Arizona State.
“I’m proud of what I was able to contribute in the short time I was there, and I’m proud of Mike Riley and the program,'' Erickson said. "I’ll always have great feelings for them and I had a lot of fun there. It was a great experience for me with great fans. But now I’m at the University of Utah and that’s my team.’’
Erickson said the contest with OSU is basically just another game for him and that the novelty of playing his former team wore off years ago. He coached against the Beavers the year he was at Idaho, losing 38-0. In five years at ASU he was 2-3 against his former team.
BEAVERS' DEFENSE: As for his offense going against Oregon State this week, Erickson believes the Utes will see a defense like the one that held Hawaii to one offensive touchdown last week, rather than the one that gave up a bunch of points and yards to Eastern Washington the week before.
“They’re very solid and disciplined. They don’t make very many mistakes and they’re very physical,’’ Erickson said. “They’re a good defense year in and year out. The thing we need to do is be patient and not turn the ball over. They know what we’re doing and it’s a matter of execution, who executes the best.’’
ALL BANGED UP: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham isn't feeling bad about Oregon State's depleted offensive line. He declined to say if it's an area the Utes would attempt to exploit Saturday.
"Everybody's beat up. We're beat up. They're beat up," he said. "Everyone in the country is beat up to a certain extent. We never pay attention to that."
UTAH-OSU NOTES: Last year, Erickson helped his son, Bryce, coach at South Albany High School, east of Corvallis, Ore. Bryce has since moved on to be the quarterback coach at the University of Idaho. ... The Utes are 6-10-1 all time against Oregon State. The first game in 1932, a 12-0 OSU win, was played on a neutral field. ... The Beavers have three players from Utah on their roster: defensive tackle Devan Filipe out of Skyline High School and Snow College; Siale Hautau, a defensive tackle from Snow College; and placekicker Riley Harper out of Cottonwood High. ... Utah has just one player from Oregon on its roster, Evan Eggiman, 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker from Hillsboro, Ore.. ... OSU linebackers coach Trent Bray was a top defensive lineman for the Beavers under Erickson and was an assistant for Erickson at Arizona State. ... OSU quarterback Sean Mannion is completing 79.1 percent of his passes, which is ahead of the NCAA record of 76.8 percent by Texas’ Colt McCoy in 2008. ... Oregon State junior linebacker D.J. Alexander, who missed the first two games of the season with a sprained knee, is expected to make his season debut against Utah.