Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
Presumably, they're going to keep the spread, but what tweaks would you like to see?
I think we can all agree Brian Johnson's inaugural season did not go very well. You can debate why, and certainly there would be many reasons to support a variety of claims, but the bottom line, the offense stagnated and struggled through the 2012 season. This is probably a big reason why Kyle Whittingham brought in Dennis Erickson, who instantly becomes one of the most experienced offensive coordinators in college football - a twist, considering Johnson, when he accepted the role last year, was the least experienced.
The tandem hope to turn around one of the worst Pac-12 offenses and, in the process, make Utah a legitimate threat in the conference.
That's no easy task for a team that hasn't really had a consistently good offense since mid-2010. It's going to take more than just play calling to fix everything that has gone wrong at Utah since the Iowa State game in their final season in the Mountain West.
In reality, the offense has struggled because it's not had consistency - either at quarterback or in the coaching booth. It's been now four seasons since Andy Ludwig departed to Kansas State (and then Cal) and since he's left, Utah has made five offensive coordinator changes - the latest being Erickson. That is an insane amount of turnover that includes Dave Schramm (now at Fresno State), Aaron Roderick (now at BYU err...), Norm Chow (now at Hawaii), Brian Johnson and, of course, Erickson. I'm sure there is no other program in college football who's had more offensive coordinators since the Obama administration began (thanks, Obama).
That is troubling and a big reason why some paused when Erickson was named the new co-offensive coordinator. Fortunately, it's not an entirely revamping of the offense and I think Whittingham wants to continue down the path Johnson set us and I believe that's the right thing to do - because the spread is certainly more favorable for the Utes.
But it goes beyond just titles. Last year's offense would've been bad even if they stuck with the pro-style offense established under Chow. So, just calling it the spread, or whatever the hell they call it nowadays, is not going to automatically make it good.
You have to have the right play calling, and the right talent to make it go. And while the Utes may have had some talent on the offensive end, for whatever reason, whether it was the struggles at quarterback or the inconsistencies at receiver and the offensive line, it didn't necessarily translate into solid performances.
One thing that plagued the offense, which I would like to see end, is just how slow plays were to develop. It seemed Utah would run off a big play, push down field, and let so much tick off the clock that by the time they lined up, the defense could promptly set up and defend whatever Utah threw at 'em.
It seemed the Utes also went away with what was working. Whether it was Kelvin York or John White or passing - when one player was getting in the groove, all too often, it felt, Johnson would go in a completely different direction and then inevitably, the offense would peter out and Utah would have to punt.
Maybe it was all by design, and certainly I'd have to go re-watch the games again to refresh my memory, but there were moments were it seemed Johnson didn't quite know what he wanted to do with the offense.
So, what changes would you like to see Utah make on the offensive end? How can the offense become more productive in 2013?