Although the book is closed on the 2016 Utah football season, things have been shuffling around.
The Utes closed out the season with another bowl win, this time in the Foster Farms Bowl with a 26-24 victory over the Indiana Hoosiers. However, the play during that game left several fans wondering what could be in store for next season. And so far, there have been a few changes, the most notable one being the hiring of a new offensive coordinator.
On the sideline
In the wake of a season where Utah struggled in the red zone — the Utes only managed to score touchdowns on 25-of-50 attempts when they were within 25 yards of the endzone — head coach Kyle Whittingham fired co-offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick, who had been a part of the Utah football program for 12 years. Other co-offensive coordinator, Dennis Erikson, retired.
“Both Dennis and Aaron have been instrumental to the success of our program and we appreciate their contributions,” Whittingham said in a press release in late December. “Dennis is one of the most respected coaches in the history of college football and the opportunity to work side by side with him and learn from him has been an invaluable experience. Aaron has been an incredibly loyal member of our staff for many years and has been an integral part of this program’s growth.”
So out with the old and in with the new. Whittingham hired Troy Taylor to take on the offensive coordinator position.
Taylor hails from Eastern Washington where he was a co-offensive coordinator. Whittingham noted that he had been keeping his eye on Taylor for some time now, even before his collegiate coaching days, because he thought he would be a good fit for this Ute squad.
“I have watched Troy Taylor closely over the years when he was coaching innovative high school offenses in California and was eager to see how that translated to college coaching,” Whittingham said in a press release. “He achieved the same results at Eastern Washington and we are fortunate that Troy was interested in bringing that style of offense here to Utah.”
On the field
The quarterback position may not be as tied up as it once was in the season. Troy Williams struggled to get the ball across the goal line often times when the Utes were in the red zone, and although he mentioned he was battling an injury for nearly all of Pac-12 play, backup quarterback Tyler Huntley performed well when given the opportunity in the bowl game.
In Santa Clara on Dec. 28, Huntley found success in the red zone, and he looked to have great command of the team. Following his performance, Whittingham said Huntley would have an opportunity to compete for that starting position.
In addition to several Utah seniors leaving the team, there are a couple of players who have decided to forego their season at the U, and they have chosen to pursue an NFL career.
The Utes will be without safety Marcus Williams and offensive lineman Garett Bolles. Bolles had only been in the Utah system for a year after transferring from junior college, and Williams was with the Utes with his entire collegiate career. However, while Williams is moving on, he took time to note on Twitter how thankful he was to the coaching staff at the U.
— Marcus Williams (@Babymagik32) January 2, 2017
Up next for the Utah football team is spring football, and the 2017 season will kickoff on Aug. 31.