The Utah Utes kicked off the 2013 season with a competitive win over the Utah State Aggies, avenging last season’s overtime loss. New co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson played a key part in the win, showing that he has put his stamp on this offense early as the Utes attacked the Aggies down the field in the passing game. Is this a sign of things to come for Utah?
Last season, Utah finished as the worst passing team in the Pac 12, averaging just 190.7 yards per game through the air. On Thursday, quarterback Travis Wilson threw for 302 yards on 17 of 28 passing with a pair of touchdowns as the Utes spread the field and picked up the pace. The team’s No. 1 wide receiver, Dres Anderson, finished the game with two catches for 59 yards and a touchdown while tight end Jake Murphy hauled in the other touchdown on a 30-yard catch-and-run down the seam in the first quarter.
There is still plenty of room for this team to improve, however. After jumping out to a 14-3 lead, Utah went scoreless on seven straight possessions and had fallen behind 23-14. Both of Wilson’s touchdown passes came in the first quarter and the only other touchdown the Utes scored was a two-yard rushing touchdown by Karl Williams set up by an onside kick recovery. Anderson, Kenneth Scott and Murphy, seen as the team’s top three receiving options, combined for just four receptions.
This offense needs to find more consistency to be truly effective this season. They came out strong and put points on the board quickly, but fizzled out once the defense made adjustments. Wilson showed he can be a quarterback that attacks defenses through the air and Erickson will undoubtedly continue feeding him those opportunities as the team gets more comfortable in the offense. The challenge for Wilson will be showing that he can consistently handle that kind of responsibility for four quarters of football.
After one game, it’s clear that this offense is a Dennis Erickson offense. It helped the Utes get the win in their season opener, but is it an attack that the team can sustain all season long?