All the talk recently about Utah’s tepid offense and how it could be improved calls for a solution that’s as plain as the day is third-and-long, complete with collateral damage that would add the kind of peppery emotion to a rivalry that would be so outrageous it would make things even more fun around here.
Utah should roll out the big bucks to hire … Jeff Grimes.
Grimes, in his first year as offensive coordinator, has brought to BYU exactly what it needed, exactly what Kalani Sitake wanted all along — a tough-minded OC who values power football, putting a premium on big, strong offensive linemen who can grade the road, utilizing capable running backs who can be counted on to pick up adequate bits of yardage and occasionally break off big plays, and the threat of throwing the ball, when necessary, to all quadrants of the field, keeping secondaries honest and on guard against mid-range to deep throws.
That’s precisely the type of athletes, on all counts, Utah can recruit.
It’s the reason the Utes’ defense has been as rocksteady as it’s been. Powerful, driven, disciplined players who are mean and rugged in their attitudes, along with those with speed at certain spots where that agility and quickness is required.
Think about that defense and then transpose it to the offensive side.
That’s what Grimes is doing at BYU.
It’s an attack that complements Kyle Whittingham’s defensive philosophies, putting a premium on taking care of the ball and not repeatedly putting his defense in disadvantageous situations, especially in tandem with the Utes’ ever-strong punting and kicking game.
It would mirror, at least to some degree, Stanford’s approach, which has worked nicely for the Cardinal.
The Utes should go ahead and rid themselves of the haunting call for the spread offense, and RPOs, and mobile-first quarterbacks, some of which have hung around that program over long stretches since the Urban Meyer days.
That was then, this is now.
Troy Taylor wants to get creative with his attack, throw in some innovation, allow Tyler Huntley to throw the ball around the yard when he’s not running like a madman, trying to pick up important gains with his feet. Against Washington the other night, there were times when it appeared Huntley might get a number of his receivers killed with wild, errant throws that allowed Husky defensive backs to measure up and pop Ute targets with a ferocity that was hard to watch. It was darn-near miraculous that Britain Covey, for instance, could even get out of bed Sunday morning, the way he had been stretched out and made vulnerable by some of Huntley’s passes and cruelly hit by Washington defenders.
The answer is to allow the offense to hit back. There’s no better reward for an offensive front than to turn it loose on defensive opponents, permitting it to run block, to clear space, to punish the toughies lining up against them.
Whittingham has hinted that a philosophical shift might be in play during the bye week, rearranging what Taylor was trying to get accomplished heretofore, which, as everyone knows, has accounted for just two touchdowns against proper FBS competition so far this season.
You, too, may have noticed: It’s not working.
What would work?
Get Mr. Grimes on line 2, and keep him there.
The added benefit to all of this would be how steamed BYU fans would get over such a bold move by Whittingham. The problem is, he and Sitake are such close friends. Friends don’t steal friends’ offensive coordinators, do they?
Well, yes, they do, when the offense is dragging down the whole endeavor.
It may have come to that in the desperate case of Utah football in 2018.
Upon further review, though, maybe Utah doesn’t have to take BYU’s guy. Maybe they can just take his ideas. Maybe Taylor and Whittingham really can adjust their style of offense. Grimes isn’t the only one who can put two and two together to get an attack on the field with a roaring four on the floor, mixed with effective, efficient, honest passing.
It’s not that complicated.
Just play well-muscled, old-school, clean-your-clock football. Play the kind of offense that’s worthy of your defense.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.