The Utes need to find a ninth offensive play-caller in 11 years.
Kyle Whittingham wants it all. A Pac-12 Championship. An offensive coordinator. A quarterback.
When asked in his weekly press conference about what offensive identity he’d like to see after the 21-7 Washington loss, he said: “We would like to get to the point where we’re a physical run team, feeding the ball to our best runner. Identity is kind of an ambiguous term. There’s a lot of different directions that can go. A team that takes care of the football, has physicality in the run game, and has big play capability. That’d be ideal.”
Hard to please a man who wants everything. But Troy Taylor nearly did, producing the much famed four-straight 40+ point performances. Leading into Washington, Tyler Huntley had more carries than Zack Moss in six of the 11 contests. After, it tilted in Moss’s direction until injuries sidelined both players.
Two days before Utah football will sign a majority of their recruiting class, the Utes lost their offensive coordinator. A year with so much promise will go back to the drawing board next year as Kyle Whittingham searches for his ninth play-caller in 11 seasons. For 14 years of stability at the top, offensive coordinator continues to have the flair for the dramatic. Interim OC Jim Harding knows this first hand.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported Troy Taylor was forced out. Did Whittingham sound happy after Washington? Britain Covey questioned the team’s identity in his postgame interview. He lobbied for more runs for Zack Moss.
Taylor went from a Power-5 coordinators position to FCS. Would you take the step down? In his interview on Gunther and Ben, he said that he received “at least a 7-maybe-8-year deal.” He’ll call plays at the Holiday Bowl.
On working with Kyle Whittingham: “Sometimes people talk about coach being tough on offensive coordinators and all that. Coach is like any high achiever. He has high expectations. No head coach is excited to be around an offense if they’re not executing, scoring points, and doing all those things. I don’t think it’s independent to him. Coach is direct with his style of communication, which he’ll tell you, and which I always appreciated just because I knew exactly where he was at and what he wanted and all those things. It was a great experience for me. I have nothing but admiration for the program.”
It’s likely a confluence of events. Sacramento State offered a chance to go home with a Godfather offer to boot.
But Sac State isn’t a better job; he’s taking a pay cut; the Utes are on the precipice of a banner year in 2019. Why leave all that? Whittingham and Taylor know the answer.
Whoever takes the job will be inheriting an incumbent starter at quarterback, a talented running back corps (with or without Zack Moss), and a dynamic tight end group. The task for the next man in charge is to replace three starters on the offensive line and generate a throw game with inconsistent-yet-capable wide receivers. And yet there’s still more drama.
Six days ago, Jayden Daniels committed to Arizona State. All of Utah’s recruiting chips (Potato chips, chocolate chips?) were in Daniels’s basket. Cue the message board meltdown.
Jack Tuttle’s transfer placed a higher importance on Utah landing the Cajon High School quarterback. Swing and a miss. The Utes need to find a QB before striking out on two straight classes without signing a signal caller.
Recruiting analyst for 247 Sports Blair Angulo says Utah might have to wait a bit and look on the transfer market. The NCAA’s new transfer portal will make it easier, but without an OC, the odds aren’t great for a quality QB. Would you sign up for a job without knowing your boss?
“We’re still looking. We’ve got all three guys coming back, at least that’s our anticipation. It wouldn’t be disaster if we don’t come away with a guy,” Whittingham said after Monday’s practice. “It’s kind of like looking for the o coordinator. You don’t want to get a guy just to get a guy in here. We want the right guy. We’ve got a line on several guys that are right now still available.We’re still working through it. Ideally we’d like to sign one.”
February 6 is the next signing day – the Utes have to make up ground in the booth and on the recruiting trail.