It’s been good. They’re both excellent football coaches with great knowledge, great experience. We sit in the staff room for hours and hours and hours together — trying to come up with the best way to put our players in the best position to be successful. —Utah offensive coordinator Dave Christensen, on position coaches Dennis Erickson and Aaron Roderick
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah offensive assistants Dennis Erickson and Aaron Roderick are working in new surroundings this spring. They’re the lone holdovers on a side of the staff that has undergone a makeover since last season.
Erickson oversees the running backs and Roderick directs the quarterbacks for new offensive coordinator Dave Christensen.
In a shake-up that followed the departures of three coaches after the Utes’ second consecutive 5-7 season, Jim Harding and Taylor Stubblefield were hired to coach the offensive line and wide receivers, respectively. The newcomers — including Christensen — fill vacancies created by Jay Hill’s hiring at Weber State, Brian Johnson’s move to Mississippi State, and the decision not to retain Dan Finn.
The movement led to Erickson and Roderick being assigned as position coaches only. Erickson was Utah’s co-offensive coordinator with Johnson last season and Roderick was the Utes’ passing game coordinator the past two years.
The transition, though, has been smooth.
“It’s been good. They’re both excellent football coaches with great knowledge, great experience. We sit in the staff room for hours and hours and hours together — trying to come up with the best way to put our players in the best position to be successful,” Christensen said. “ ... There’s no egos in the room. All we want to do is win. So it’s fun. We’re all on the same page and it’s exciting to come out here and kind of see how things are when we put it all together on the practice field.”
It’s become one of the more intriguing storylines for the Utes this spring. Christensen, Erickson, Roderick and Harding all have offensive coordinating experience experience and Stubblefield is an NCAA record-setting receiver.
“It’s Coach Christensen’s offense and he’s the offensive coordinator. But he’s been great about asking for input from all of us,” Roderick said. “I think we have a really good staff. Each guy has their say and it’s a good collaboration.”
For Roderick, the move to quarterbacks comes after nine years as the primary receivers coach.
“It’s not that big of a deal, really. I’ve coached quarterbacks before and I’ve been around some of the best quarterback coaches in the game. So I feel like I’ve been well-trained by some really good coaches,” Roderick said. “I’ve coordinated before, so anytime you coordinate everything you do is through the quarterback’s eyes. It doesn’t matter if you’re coaching tight ends or receivers, if you’re calling the plays you’re always thinking about the game through the quarterback because he’s holding the ball every play.”
Erickson, meanwhile, is also fine with his new role. The veteran college and NFL coach has pretty much done it all in his career, including leading Miami (Fla.) to a pair of national championships.
“The bottom line is what’s best for our football team. I know Dave and he does a good job. We’re doing some of the same things and I contribute and help in a lot of ways,” said Erickson, who is entering his second season with the Utes. “My role isn’t all that different to be honest with you. So the bottom line is moving the football, scoring some points.
“I just like being around the players and coaches and being here trying to help win football games,” he added.