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Looking at the Utah coaches heading into fall camp

Utah returns most of their staff from the previous season, but there was some shuffling

By Joel Davidson

Kyle Whittingham: Head Coach

In his 12th year at the helm, Kyle Whittingham will be looking to take his team a step further in the Pac-12 by winning the south division and contending for a conference championship. Kyle is one of the most respected coaches in the nation and has another chance to further his legacy in 2016. His deck of coaching cards has been shuffled a bit during the offseason. But after adding only one new member, it is much more stable than previous years. It will be business as usual with a stout defense and a conservative game plan. But the head coach will need a bit more from his offense and a new quarterback to accomplish his goals.

Dennis Erickson: Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs

Easily the most experienced and knowledgeable member of the staff, the 2x national championship winning coach is on the back end of of his coaching career and now prefers the ancillary role he has at Utah. With his coast-to-coast connections, he has been one of the most important recruiters during his time at Utah. He alone can be credited with bringing in most of the Florida talent currently on the roster. As the assistant head coach, he can provide little nuggets of knowledge to just about anyone on the field. Erickson has also done an excellent job coaching the running backs, which has been the most consistent offensive position over the past few years.

Morgan Scalley: Defensive Coordinator/Safeties  

The most significant coaching change happened when defensive coordinator John Pease decided to retire...again. This left another vacancy at one of the most important positions on the Utah staff. Morgan Scalley may have been ready to take the position after the exit of Kalani Sitake to Oregon State in 2014. But ultimately, Kyle Whittingham decided to bring Pease back to further groom Scalley to take over the position. Being just over 10 years removed from his playing career at Utah, Scalley is one of the brightest young coaches in the business. He has been a part of Kyle Whittingham’s staff in some capacity since the head coach took over the position in 2005. Expect his defense to be typical, but also reflect his own personality which is sharp, intense, and loud. Scalley will also continue to coach the safeties position, which he takes great pride in.

Aaron Roderick: Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks

Roderick, another long-time assistant of the head coach, will be going into his second consecutive season as the co-offensive coordinator. In 2010, Roderick shared co-offensive coordinator duties with Dave Schramm as well. He also previously held the title of Passing Coordinator for a couple of years. As co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, the passing game and play calling are primarily his duties. Despite the 10-3 record last year, the passing game took a small step back in 2015. This could mostly be attributed to injuries at the wide receiver and tight-end positions. With healthy pass-catchers and a group of promising new quarterbacks that can deliver the pass, Roderick needs to see improvement under his wings in 2016. This is likely the pivotal component to helping the Utes take the next step in the Pac-12.

Jim Harding: Co-Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line

Jim Harding has probably been the lone bright spot from the Dave Christensen experiment. Under Christensen, Harding served as the co-offensive coordinator at Wyoming and the line coach at Utah. In 2015, after only one year on the staff, Whittingham promoted Jim to co-offensive coordinator. His primary responsibilities are the offensive line and he assists with the run game as well. Harding has done an impressive job as the offensive line coach. His position group is arguably the most improved during his time at Utah and has paved the way for back-to-back 1000+ rushing seasons. With four returning starters, some good depth, and the addition of the top JC tackle Garrett Bolles, Harding will be coaching his most talented line yet.

Justin Ena: Linebackers/Co-Special Teams Coordinator

Justin Ena was previously the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Weber State before joining the Utah staff in 2015. In his first year coaching at Utah, he had the privilege of coaching two of the best linebackers to suit up for the Utes in Gionni Paul and Jared Norris. All three senior linebackers have now graduated and Ena will be left coaching a young and inexperienced group. But he does have help on the way in 4* JC transfer Kavika Luafatasaga. He will also split special team duties, mostly handling kick coverage.

Sharrieff Shah: Cornerbacks/Co-Special Teams Coordinator

The former Utah player and attorney has made a nice transition to coaching college football. With no prior coaching experience, many questioned Kyle Whittingham’s decision to seek out and hire Shah in 2012. But he has proven to be an adequate coach, even successfully assisting the transition of two former safeties into NFL cornerbacks. The coach can often be heard motivating his players on the field and they respond well. He is a player favorite. 2016 should be another successful year for his experienced group of cornerbacks. Shah will be handling return units for special teams as well.

Guy Holliday: Wide Receivers

Guy Holliday is the only new addition to the Utah staff after former wide receiver coach Taylor Stubblefield left at the end of the 2015 season. The former BYU position coach brings 18 years of wide receiver coaching experience to help ignite Utah’s own group. He assisted in coaching two top 30-ranked passing offenses during his time at BYU. Through spring ball, he has already received praised from his players for his coaching style. I think this is a definite coaching upgrade and, with a healthy group of receivers, expect improvement at the position.

Lewis Powell: Defensive Line

Powell is another former Utah player that joined the staff as the tight end coach in 2015. He previously coached the defensive line at Hawaii for two years and was able to help them improve their overall defense in consecutive seasons. As expected, he took over the defensive line coaching duties now that John Pease has retired...again. Powell has also been getting a bit of help from a new coaching assistant by the name of Sione Pou’ha. You may have heard of him. The defensive line is in good hands.

Fred Whittingham, Jr: Tight Ends

After handling player personnel duties for the past four years, Fred is ready to try his hand at this coaching thing his older brother has been telling him about. Coaching is in their blood and tight end is a good position group to get your feet wet. The group is deep and most have some decent playing experience. If there is anything he can do to help them stay healthy, it should be his first task.

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