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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon
Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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Former ASU coach Erickson eager to help vitalize Utah's offense

Dennis Erickson looked rather fresh and spry for a guy who had hip replacement surgery less than a week ago, now let's see if the longtime coach can add a little pep to Utah's offense.

Erickson had his introductory press conference Wednesday at the University of Utah. While admitting he still doesn't know all of Utah's players, he does know he wants a more uptempo offense and would like to incorporate the shotgun and use the tight ends extensively.

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Erickson, who spent several minutes talking of his time at Miami, said he decided to get back into coaching because he saw an opportunity to help Utah reach a new level. He also said he has long respected Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.

"It's his blue print," he said. "He wants us to score touchdowns, the faster the better. He has been around the game and coached defense, but he knows what happens on offense and wants to pick it up."

Utah's offense has been unsatisfactory in recent seasons, but Erickson attributed part of the struggles to injuries to Jordan Wynn.

"It's unbelievable what they've been through," he said.

Based on past experience, Erickson said he doesn't think the Utes have to change a lot, echoing Whittingham's desire to not overhaul the offense.

"Coaching is about giving players the best chance to win on both sides of the football," he said.

At 65-years-old, Erickson said he didn't know how long he'd remain in the game, but likes the idea of being an assistant and not having all the added duties a head coach has.

"Believe me, I don't miss it that much," he said.

As for calling Utah's offense, Erickson said it would be a group effort and he spoke glowingly of Brian Johnson, who was promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator for the 2012 season.

"We all believe the same thing and are on the same page," he said. "We all want to get it done and get better on offense."

- Lya Wodraska



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