The Utes will take the field on September 3rd against a Michigan program led by new head coach Jim Harbaugh, and a completely different Michigan coaching staff than Utah faced last season. While Kyle Wittingham remains the head man
Aaron Roderick & Jim Harding (Co- Offensive coordinators)
Aaron Roderick and Jim Harding are not new names to the Utah program. In fact Roderick is one of the most tenured members of the coaching staff, having been on staff since 2005. Harding and Roderick do have new coaching positions, however, so we'll include them as "new coaches."
Roderick and Harding are now serving as co-offensive coordinators for the Utes. According to head coach Kyle Whittingham, Roderick will handle the play calling while Harding will serve as the lead coordinator. That being said, it is obvious that the offensive coordinator position will be a group effort this year, with Dennis Erickson providing input as well.
According to the coaches, everything is going swimmingly, with each coach noting the lack of egos among the group. Harding is the most vocal and is typically more demonstrative with the players than Roderick, who tends to be more reserved. The contrasting styles seem to be working for the Utes well so far, as both coaches have earned rave reviews from the players.
One of the main reasons the players seem to appreciate having Harding and Roderick as their coordinators is continuity. The players already have formed relationships with these coaches, and have not had to forge new relationships or worry about first impressions as they did last year with Dave Christensen.
Moving forward into the season, Roderick said the focus will be on simplifying the offense and relying on the Utes strengths. Once the season starts and we are able to see the offense in action against opposing defenses, we will have a better idea of how well the new coordinator hires
Lewis Powell (Tight Ends)
Lewis Powell is a familiar face at Utah. The new tight ends coach played at Utah and was a graduate and administrative assistant for three years before joining Norm Chow's staff in Hawaii for the past three years. Coaching on the offensive side of the ball is a new experience for Powell, as he played on defense as a player and served as the defensive line coach
Powell has indicated that coaching on offense has given him additional insight into why defenses scheme the way they do. In addition, his knowledge from coaching defensive line has helped in teaching the tight ends specifically with blocking, since he knows many of the subtleties defensive lineman use to shed blocks. While Powell's hire as an offensive coach despite no offensive experience might seem puzzling to some, his connection to the Poly community as well as relationships developed
Justin Ena (Linebackers)
Justin Ena came over to the Utes this year after stints as defensive coordinator at Southern Utah and Weber State. Ena has stepped in and taken over as the linebackers coach. Like his predecessor, Sitake, Ena is a BYU alum, but seems to be adjusting just fine to wearing red, joking he got used to wearing red while at SUU. Sitake and Ena also happen to be good friends, and Ena said Sitake was able to provide him valuable
With the three starting linebackers
John Pease (Defensive Line & Defensive Coordinator)
This will be Pease's fourth tour of duty with the Utes. That's right, Pease came out of retirement for a fourth stint coaching the Utes. Pease served as a graduate assistant 1968-69 and then as linebackers coach in 1977, before coaching the defensive line in 2009-2010. Pease came out of retirement to coordinate the defense this upcoming season. Pease coached in the NFL from 1985-2005 including a stint as the defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2001-2002.
Pease has been well received by the players, thus far. He has made it known he would like to see the defense become the "terrors of the Pac-12" under his watch. He coaches with great enthusiasm and is one of the most vocal coaches on staff in practices. He has endeared himself to the players with his energy and passion, often running with the players between drill stations. Pease is familiar with the defensive system Whittingham likes to run, after having coached under him in 2009-10. As Whittingham has mentioned, not much has changed since then with the defensive schemes. He has stepped in seamlessly so far and has the attention and respect of the defensive players, a good sign for Utah fans.