If Dennis Erickson is chafing about his move to running backs coach, he's not publicly discussing it. He seems pretty chill about the whole situation, to be honest. Erickson chatted with Matthew Piper of the Salt Lake Tribune and had this to say.
"I was on the other side of that, too, as a head football coach, so I understand the situations," he says. "My role is not a heck of a lot different [from last year]. We're all doing it together like we've always done."
Of the new boss, Erickson says: "I've never coached with him but I have friends of mine that have coached with him, and they have nothing but good things to say, and so do I. He's doing a good job."
Erickson is now in charge of the running backs and remains meticulous about details according to the running backs on the team. It's hard to say how comfortable and competent he'll be in the role (Erickson hasn't been a position coach in approximately forever), but he has embraced it and seems comfortable with the staff.
As for the offensive coordinator, Erickson has ceded coaching duties to new offensive coordinator Dave Christensen, and he seems okay with all of it. The philosophy won't change too much (both he and Christensen favor fast paced offenses that run the spread) and Erickson seems to be happy with the entire situation. The two know each other and are quite pleased with each other. If this team struggles next season, it doesn't look like it'll be due to coaching turmoil.
Christensen steps into Erickson's shoes
With Dave Christensen as the new offensive coordinator for the Utah Utes, Utah will be changing up their philosophy in certain specific ways. One of them involves tight ends.
Utah wanted to utilize their tight ends to exploit mismatches in opposing defenses this season, but they lost Westlee Tonga early and Jake Murphy got injured later, making it very difficult for that philosophy to ever get off the ground.
Tonga is back, and Christensen has a few young talents like Siale Fakailoatonga and Evan Moeai, and Utah can consider utilizing tight ends more next season. While Murphy is gone and that might limit how much Utah goes to two tight ends, Christensen does have crucial depth at the position that will allow him to put out various offensive sets.
"There will be a lot of variety," said Christensen, who also takes the reins of the position group that Jay Hill left to accept the head coaching job at Weber State. Christensen said tight ends could line up in as many as nine spots in his system, and that "there's a lot more asked of them now from a receiving standpoint now than there was in the past, probably."
Christensen definitely has far more recent experience than Erickson at the position. Still, it will be a bit peculiar to see both offensive coordinators on the same staff, particularly a name as revered as Erickson.
Utes, how do you feel about Christensen and Erickson? Do you think it was a wise decision by Whittingham to pull the plug so quickly and get more experience on staff? Do you think it was wise to demote Erickson rather than change course altogether? What are your thoughts on how the new offensive coaching brain trust looks?