Whittingham turns to familiar faces to fill out Utah staff

BY foxsports • February 4, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Utah coach Kyle Whittingham wanted some kind of stability when it came to hiring a new offensive coordinator. He doesn't mind change at the position - the Utes haven't had the same coach at that spot since Norm Chow and Aaron Roderick were co-coordinators in 2010 and 2011.

But the 11th year coach didn't want a change in scheme from the spread attack players were used to. That's why Whittingham didn't look far and promoted Roderick back to co-offensive coordinator from quarterbacks coach along with former offensive line coach Jim Harding.

''Our players really like the scheme we're running right now,'' Whittingham said. ''Bringing in someone from the outside and disrupting the scheme, the terminology, all that type of stuff, really wasn't in the equation for me. Plus, we have good coaches right here on staff that players really, really like and play for.''

Roderick will be in charge of the passing game and call the plays from the press box on game days. Harding will continue to work with the line and head the run game. The Utes' running game ranked No. 3 in the Pac-12 in 2014 with 190.4 yards per game and they ranked No. 12 in the passing game with 197.7 yards per game.

Roderick's goal is simple.

''We need to find a way to generate more explosive plays and improve in our passing game overall,'' Roderick said.

This will be the third time during Whittingham's tenure that he has employed co-offensive coordinators. Roderick has been in this position before and Harding said neither has an ego to make the sharing of responsibilities an issue.

''(Co-coordinators) doesn't (work) everywhere, but a single coordinator doesn't work all the time either,'' Whittingham said.

Utah went back to the well with 71-year-old John Pease at defensive coordinator. Pease, who came out of retirement for a second time, said he was actually suggesting another coach for the position when Whittingham decided to make the offer. Again, the new defensive coordinator brings a level of familiarity as a former Utah player who enters his fourth stint as a Utes assistant - in addition to 19 years of NFL coaching experience.

The Utes had the No. 4 scoring defense in the Pac-12, allowing 24.9 points per game last season.

''I was actively trying to get somebody else the job,'' Pease said. ''We're not going to change what has been good there. Maybe we'll put a new carburetor on the engine, or a supercharger. It's minor things. Maybe a little bit of alignment change. A little difference in some of the techniques.

''You're not going to see a great deal of difference scheme-wise from what they've been here. ... You're driving a Ferrari, let's not clean it up too much. We don't need to.''

The moves bring stability back to the coaching staff after an odd offseason that saw the program lose both its coordinators and rumors of a rift between Whittingham and athletic director Chris Hill were widely reported. Whittingham eventually signed an extension through 2018 and the coaching hires were announced two days before national signing day. A tight ends coach remains the lone vacancy.

''It's tough to recruit and try to fill a staff out at the same time, but that's the nature of college football,'' Whittingham said.

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