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Utah football: Anderson ready to play leading role for Utes

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes wide receiver Dres Anderson (6) pulls in a first quarter touchdown pass from quarterback Travis Wilson (7) as the University of Utah hosts Utah State, college football Thursday, August 29, 2013 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

By Lya Wodraska

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Sep 12 2013 10:44AM
Updated Feb 14, 2014 11:34PM

There was no better example of Utah’s struggling offensive woes last year than the Utes’ loss to Oregon State.

Quarterback Travis Wilson threw two interceptions while receiver DeVonte Christopher lost a pitch that was recovered by Oregon State and running back John White dropped a pass that would have gone for a big gain.

In the end the Utes, who said they needed big plays to win, had little more than big mistakes in the 21-7 loss.

This year the Utes hope to show just how much they’ve improved by unleashing a smooth running offense in the Pac-12 opener against the Beavers.

Piling up 70 points against Weber State was one thing, but the Utes know doing it against a legitimate opponent like Oregon State is another challenge.

"We aren’t taking anything for granted," Utah receiver Dres Anderson said. "But going into any game, for us to be an effective offense, we want to try and take over the game no matter what the defense does and win it with offense."

The Utes thought they’d have a potent offense this season with Anderson and Kenneth Scott leading the receivers.

With Scott out for the year after suffering a season-ending injury in the opener, the role of being "the guy" now falls to Anderson.

Anderson, who likes catching passes a whole lot more than he does talking about himself, said he can fill that role if necessary.

However, he believes the Utes have more weapons in the passing game than many believe. Tight end Jake Murphy is a reliable receiver and Sean Fitzgerald and Anthony Denham have made some big plays.

"I wasn’t alone," he said of Scott’s absence. "I still have my guys out there and it’s all right...We have a lot of guys who can catch for us."

Still, the Utes look at him as being the target when they need a big play.

"We need to dial up a few more plays for him because he is a big play guy," Whittingham said. "He’s definitely a deep threat and it’s just a matter of him being consistent and we have to get him the ball."

Anderson is accustomed to a leading role, having paced the Utes in 2012 with 36 catches and 365 receiving yards. At 6-foot-1, 187 pounds, Anderson is a big-time threat after catching the ball with his 4.4, 40 speed.

The problem is, he wasn’t enough of a consistent threat last year and scored just three touchdowns.

Anderson knew he had to work on being a more reliable receiver this year. He has had a few drops, but so far has improved enough to help the Utes show hints of being the threatening offense that was lacking in recent efforts.

"One of the reasons we didn’t snap the ball a lot [against Weber State] was a couple times we had some quick strike scores that didn’t last very long," he said. "That was something that was severely lacking the last couple years and it has shown up in the first two games. If that continues, this offense has a good chance of being pretty good."

Anderson, for one, hopes to play his part.

"If that is the role they want me to carry, I am fine with it," he said.

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