New Utah offensive coordinator Troy Taylor has been on the job for roughly a month, but he already has big plans for the Ute offense. Taylor, who arrives at Utah with a reputation as both a quarterback guru and an offensive innovator, is expected to install a high powered aerial attack – a style that is a dramatic turn from some of the more recent Utah offenses.
As he enters his first spring, UteZone caught up with Taylor to talk about his goals and the process of installing a new offensive system.
What’s job number one this spring as you look to implement the new system?
“[It’s a] new system. so obviously installing the offense and then learning it for the first time will be a priority. There will be a lot of learning. There’s some carry over, so we’re going to take that learning and add it to what we’re doing. The pass game is going to be different than what they’re used to, but the run game is very similar to what they’ve done in the past. And the rest of it will be about getting to know each other and building a relationship. So many of the great organizations are about trust. So [the players] will be getting to know me as well as I’m getting to know them.”
For the players that are on the roster, is it a clean slate for everyone?
“It is a clean slate. It’s an opportunity to get a new start. I’ve seen a little tape, but everybody has a new start.”
The buzz has been all about the passing game. How do you plan to use the running backs?
“Running back, it’s a very key position in this offense because of their versatility. Obviously they need to be great runners, but they need to pass protect. One of the things that they’ll be doing different from what they’ve done in the past is that they’ll need to be involved in the pass game. For me, balance is spreading the ball to all five skill positions so that they’re all involved. It makes us a more dangerous offense.
The type of guys we’re looking for [on the recruiting front] are guys that are versatile, that can win the one-on-one matchups in the pass game, that can pass protect, but still be dynamic runners. So they’ve got to be special players. “
How will you use the tight end position in the offense?
“We love tight ends. In our offense at Folsom, we had three years where [the tight end] was the leading receiver not only on the team, but one year it was the state. So those guys again, it depends on their versatility. If they can win at the point of attack in the run game, but also are adept about finding space and catching the ball in traffic, then they’ll never leave the field. If they’re not as versatile, then sometimes you have to adapt and bring on another receiver. You’ve got to adapt to you personnel, but for me, tight end is a huge position and I’d prefer to have a tight end on the field.”
What are your expectations for the quarterback competition this spring?
“It’s about competition. They’re coming in with a clean slate. I’ve seen them on film, but I’m going to let them compete. Tyler and Troy will get a majority of the snaps and we’ll see how that works out. I’m excited about both guys. It’s going to be how well they adapt to the system and also how well I coach them to adapt to the system. It’s my job as a coach for them to be successful, and if they’re not successful then that’s on me, because they’ve got plenty of talent. That’s the great thing about competition. The cream typically rises. You sort it out, you let them play, you coach them up, and the guy that plays the best will be our starter.“
What’s your first impression of the coaches on the offensive staff?
“In terms of coaches here, I’ve been impressed. In terms of the offensive coaches, I’m extremely impressed with their knowledge, and with their willingness to be open to change. There’s been a great chemistry early on. I’m really fired up to work with them. I knew Freddie a little bit because his son played for me. Jim Harding and Doc [Holliday] are known as two of the best coaches at their positions in the country. They’re very well respected. I never worked with them. I met Jim Harding in recruiting. Coach McDonald, I worked with him at Eastern, and I obviously wouldn’t want him to come here if I didn’t think he was a great coach. He’s a great teacher. He builds great relationships with his players. He’s a passionate recruiter. He really knows his position. I’m thrilled with the offensive staff. We have everything we need here to be successful. And if we’re not successful, that’s entirely on me. But that’s not going to happen. We’re going to have lots of success.”
Looking forward to 2018, how do you anticipate adjustments in terms of your recruiting approach and the types of personnel you bring in?
“Two things. You want to get great players – everybody does - but you also want to find fit within your system. I think wide receiver wise, you can have different guys. They don’t always have to be cookie cutter guys in terms of size and speed. Our insider receivers have to be able to create space and have a great feel [for finding holes in the defense]. The outside guys are probably a little bit bigger, but we can make it all work. We just need to continue to bring in talented, dynamic receivers. At Eastern, we had three guys that went for over 1000 yards, so for us it’s not just one, tow or even three guys. We should have eight guys that can play. We have to continue to create depth at wide receiver.
Obviously, we’ve had great offensive linemen here that I think will adapt to the system well.
The quarterback, I’ve had different guys. I’ve had a lot of dual threat guys. Our quarterback at Eastern was a dual-threat guy. Almost all of my quarterbacks at Folsom were dual threat guys except for Jake Browning. It’s important to be able to adapt your system to the player’s talent, so if we have a guy that’s more skilled as a drop back passer, he’s still got to be able to get himself out of trouble, but even if he’s not a running threat, we’ll be interested in him because we can make both work.”