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(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Dennis Erickson, Utah's new offensive co-coordinator is eager to begin spring practice with the Utes on Tuesday.
Super Bowl notes: Dennis Erickson’s protege could be Broncos’ next QB
Notes » Ute assistant coached Brock Osweiler while at Arizona State.
First Published Jan 30 2014 03:39 pm • Last Updated Jan 30 2014 11:12 pm

Newark, N.J. • Super Bowls always inspire opportunities for creative gambling, and it is possible this year to bet whether Brock Osweiler will become the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback next season.

The proposition is not worded quite that way, dealing strictly with the potential for Peyton Manning’s retiring — which is viewed as unlikely, according to the odds. Yet the circumstances make Osweiler an intriguing figure, considering he’s currently next in line, whenever that day may come.

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And he believes he’s well prepared to play in the NFL, thanks to Dennis Erickson, his coach at Arizona State and now a member of the Utah staff.

"Not only was it a lot of fun, but I learned so much about playing the position," Osweiler said.

As the Sun Devils’ head coach, Erickson was heavily involved with the offense, particularly the quarterbacks. "He kind of laid out what he wanted from his quarterbacks, and as long as as you did that or exceeded that, it was a lot of fun."

And less so, when the standards were not met. "He really helped me grow at a very rapid pace and be prepared for those demands of major college football," Osweiler said.

Osweiler completed 25 of 41 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-14 win at Utah in 2011, his junior season. He entered the NFL Draft after that year, when Erickson was fired, and the Broncos took him in the second round as the fifth quarterback taken — ahead of Seattle starter Russell Wilson.

Ute connection, part II

Denver defensive lineman Mitch Unrein played at Wyoming, where Dave Christensen replaced Joe Glenn as head coach in 2009, in advance of Unrein’s senior season.

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Christensen was named Utah’s offensive coordinator in December, when Erickson was demoted to running backs coach. Compared with Glenn, Christensen was "more strict, that’s for sure," Unrein said. "He was the coach that really prepared me for the NFL."

Unrein said he particularly benefited from defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery, who’s now at Oklahoma.

Pot Roast goes extra mile

Denver’s Terrance Knighton is nicknamed "Pot Roast," nicely capturing the 335-pound nose tackle.

Knighton said he has studied the NFL’s top players at his position, including Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata, a Highland High School product who earned a Super Bowl ring last year. Nose tackles are sometimes viewed "as just being cloggers," Knighton said, but Ngata and other stars "have such quick feet for their size, and quick hands. … So I just take a little bit from everybody."

Unlike Ngata, Knighton is a big talker on the field. The research of his opponent, Seattle center Max Unger, goes beyond film study. "I’ll start Googling him and doing all types of stuff to guide out his personal life," Knighton said. "I want to know everything about him … from his favorite food to his favorite color."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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