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Pac-12: Utah's Dennis Erickson promising uptempo offense

Published February 20, 2013 3:50 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dennis Erickson wanted to make a good impression when he reported to his new job.

"I am not going to the University of Utah with a cane," he told his wife.

So the Utes' co-offensive coordinator waited until he had sufficiently recovered from his Feb. 6 hip replacement surgery to come to Salt Lake City. That rehabilitation process and a coaching shelf life that he guesses is two to four years – "Probably not 10 years," he said – are his only concessions to age, as he approaches his 66th birthday next month.

Introduced at a news conference Wednesday, Erickson promised to install a fast-paced, no-huddle offense that's suited to the Utes' current personnel. Because they are well stocked at tight end with Jake Murphy and others, that position will be featured. Erickson said Ute coach Kyle Whittingham endorses the uptempo approach, because "he knows what hurts people."

Other points Erickson made:

— He expects to work smoothly with co-offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, who was demoted after being in charge of the offense last season. "Brian Johnson is a superstar in our business," Erickson said.

— He attributes most of Utah's offensive struggles to former quarterback Jordan Wynn's shoulder injuries. Erickson's 2011 Arizona State team beat the Utes 35-14 in the first game following Wynn's initial season-ending injury. He also said of the Utah offense, "You've got to find out what's broken before you can fix it."

— In brief exposure to Utah's players, he senses some of the bonding that characterized his great Miami teams, in terms of "how much these guys care about each other."