COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Utah Offense Has Many Strengths, Will Address Weaknesses After Spring Ball

Apr 20, 2023, 11:32 AM

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah offense had a very productive spring ball despite sitting out some key pieces. Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig discussed their many strengths, and some of the weaknesses to be addressed ahead of the 22 Forever spring game.

Utah’s primary offensive story has been who will backup starter Cam Rising in 2023, but the depth, unity, and leadership of the running back and offensive line group have been worth some headlines too.

Wide receivers and tight ends are entering new eras, with a new coach for the receivers and no more Dalton Kincaid in the TNT room.

 

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The Quarterbacks Behind Cam Rising

Brandon Rose has made a splash as the guy leading the charge through spring for the backup roll behind Cam Rising. Ludwig is happy with the progress Rose has made but will be looking for him to continue his growth through the summer months.

“He’s gotten better, still a work in progress” Ludwig said. “We’re talking about a freshman quarterback and the learning curve is very steep. He has shown progress practice one through practice 13 and has to finish out spring ball strong. I think we talked about it in our first press conference prior to spring ball- we didn’t try to limit the package very much for him. There are some things we held, but he’s gotten exposure to the whole offense and it’s a load. It’s a big load, but I think he is growing, and adjusting, and learning every day. We are looking to finish strong, but you’ve got to have a great summer and I anticipate he will.”

 

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As for the group as a whole, Ludwig is very confident in the talent the Utes have collected at signal caller. Much like Rose, he just wants to see the group take big steps together in preparation for the 2023 football season.

“It’s a good room,” Ludwig said. “You talk about Bryson Barnes- we know what he’s about, Brandon Rose, Nate Johnson who has been limited. He missed some practices which will set him behind a little bit, but he was back with us and had a good day. Luke Bottari and Mac Howard are filling out the room. It’s a good room. Again, there is a lot of growth and development with the whole group.”

As for what Ludwig wants to see from the group in the 22 Forever Game, it’s all about accuracy, decision making, and taking care of the football.

“Decision making and repetitive accuracy would be the big things that is still a work in progress,” Ludwig said. “The group has gotten better through the course of spring, but we want to finish on a high note.”

Ludwig’s Biggest Concern For Utah Offense

Much like head coach Kyle Whittingham, Ludwig sees the need to continue pushing and upgrading the wide receiver room depth. Both coaches seem to be on the same page that added depth could come from just continued improvement in the room, or even from the NCAA Transfer Portal.

“Depth at wide receiver would be the number one concern,” Ludwig said. “I feel really good about where we are with Devaughn Vele, Money Parks and Mike Matthews has come in and done a really good job. Tiquan Gilmore- we need more production, a couple of the other guys need more production, but that would be the one gray area as we wrap up spring ball.”

“We’ll explore every option to get better,” Ludwig continued, “Ever option to get better.”

High Praises For The Running Backs

It’s hard to not be excited about Utah’s running back room between the depth and talent, along with how much they have talked about being a brotherhood on and off the field.

“Through my tenure here and this second go-around, it’s really been a three-headed horse,” Ludwig said. “If you look at the success we had in ’21, it was Tavion Thomas, it was T.J. Pledger, it was Micah Bernard. A year ago, it was more of ‘who do we have available?’ Different guys stepping up each week. Jaylon Glover got starts, we moved JJ from quarterback to tailback and it’s going to be a huge plus for us- was a huge plus, will continue to be so. The more depth, the better and that’s not just depth, it’s quality depth. I feel really good about the strength of that position.”

 

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A name that hasn’t been mentioned a lot this spring in the running back room, but fans should continue to keep an eye on is Chris Curry. Last year, it looked like Curry was on the verge of a breakout season, before a season-ending injury. Ludwig noted he is very excited to get the LSU transfer back in the rotation over the summer.

“I’m fired up to see him back out on the field,” Ludwig said. “That guy has so much juice, so much personality in the way that he carries himself in the building and on the practice field- he brings a lot to the entire unit, and he runs so hard. I’m fired up to get Chris back.”

With so much talent available to the Utes in 2023 in the running back room, Ludwig will have his work cut out for him to utilize it all. However, coming up with plays that feature the best athletes on the roster to the best of their abilities is what Ludwig specializes in most and it’s a challenge he’s looking forward to.

“It’s all about the players,” Ludwig said. “Any play we run, we try to highlight the best players on our team and utilize the players within the scheme. Some years it’s three tight ends, other years it may be two backs, could be four wideouts. I think that is the flexibility of the system and the philosophy of the system. It’s not about the plays, it’s about the players.”

The Offensive Line Will Be Key In Utah Offense

Not only will the talent of the running backs make the run game a strength once again for the Utes, but Ludwig anticipates the incredible depth at offensive line being a factor as well in 2023.

“I think the offensive line will be a real strength and you combine that with the strength of the depth of the running back room, you feel confident about where we are and where we will be going in terms of the run game,” Ludwig said.

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports

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Utah Offense Has Many Strengths, Will Address Weaknesses After Spring Ball