Utes will look to push the tempo in 2013

Stephen Dunn

Utah spent part of Tuesday's practice working on improving offensive tempo.

Last year's offense was hardly fast - developing at a slower pace than an average 90-year old walking up hill. It was a big reason Utah struggled so much at doing anything and that was no more apparent than against the Arizona State Sun Devils - as their high-flyin' offense often put Utah's sluggish defense on its heels. Utah's offense could hardly match the pace and the game developed like a really bad movie.

Dennis Erickson didn't coach in that game, but he's familiar with its players and the talent needed to run an offense that pushes down the field at a startling pace. This is what he wants to do at Utah, focusing spring ball on an uptempo offense that won't take up the entire play clock before hiking the ball.

I'm guessing that's pretty good news all around because that really does appear to be the direction college football is heading - at least on the offensive side - and especially in the Pac-12. Most teams are not waiting long to set up a play and get the ball out of the quarterback's hands. They want a constant motion that keeps the defense guessing instead of allowing the defense time to compose and ready itself for the next play. Last season, when Utah somehow was successful at getting off a good, ten-plus yard play, it was almost always negated by an offense that appeared far from urgent and purposely ambling to the point where they could never catch the defense off guard.

That meant the very next few plays would lead to a punt and the drive would stall without points.

It was extremely frustrating because you got the sense the offense wasn't aggressive enough. Which is an odd term to use when you consider they ran an exorbitant amount of trick plays. But it felt like things would slow to a turtle-like pace at key points in the game.

Erickson, and Brian Johnson, want to change this. They want an offense that doesn't waste clock - especially after key plays that net a good amount of yards.

It seems they want to keep the peddle to the metal. And in Tuesday's practice, that's what they worked on.

Still, don't expect the Oregon Ducks. I still don't believe this offense is going no-huddle, though they might on some plays. They'll still milk the play clock as much as possible - but it does feel there will be more urgency from the team and because of that, I do expect faster developing players, which means more plays and the chance for more points.

It'll be interesting to see how this offense develops, but a lot will depend on Travis Wilson's progress and the improvement of the offensive line. In that latter regard, if you believe Erickson's hype (or maybe it's some cryptic warning, I don't know), the offensive line is shaping up to be the strongest unit on this year's team.

That's either really good, which I'm hoping is the case, or it's really bad.

I'll let you be the judge.

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