No. 13 Utah hosts familiar faces against Oregon State
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — There may be no two coaching staffs more familiar with each other than those at No. 13 Utah and Oregon State.
First-year Beavers coach Gary Andersen played center at Utah and was defensive line coach at Idaho State while Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was defensive coordinator there. The two were on the same staff twice at Utah with Andersen serving as defensive tackles coach and defensive coordinator while Whittingham went from defensive coordinator to head coach.
When Oregon State (2-5, 0-4 Pac-12) visits Utah (6-1, 3-1) on Saturday night with the Utes aiming to bounce back from their only loss of the season, it will mark the second time Andersen has faced Whittingham in his first year at a program. The first time was in 2003 when Andersen was the head coach at Southern Utah.
Whittingham said Andersen has always been organized, detailed, intelligent and has a great rapport with players. There’s a lot of similarities in the way the programs run.
“We hung on to a lot of stuff that Urban (Meyer) did, who probably copied it from Lou Holtz who probably copied it from somewhere else,” said Whittingham. Both were on Meyer’s staff in 2004. “I’m sure Gary took a lot of that with him. Stuff that has been good over the years, so why not use it.”
There are seven other coaches on the Oregon State staff with Utah ties. Defensive backs coach Derrick Odum, defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a and graduate assistant Kameron Yancy all played and coached at Utah. Defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake was the Utes’ defensive coordinator from 2012-14.
Utah co-offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick was Andersen’s offensive coordinator for Southern Utah in 2003.
“I’m very, very happy for Kyle, because it’s been a grind to get where they are today,” Andersen said. “We won’t speak this week, not because of me, because he doesn’t like that stuff. I’ll still throw him a couple joking texts and different things. You talk to him, and he’s excited for the success his team is having.”
There isn’t much concern that either side will benefit from the relationships. Whittingham said things are tweaked every year even if principles and philosophies haven’t been.
“It’s all about players,” Whittingham said. “Players are 90 percent of it. Coaches are not dumb. They’re going to change signals, make modifications and do whatever they can, but they know what we know and we know what they know. I don’t think that’s as big of a factor as people make it out to be.”
Things to watch when Utah hosts Oregon State:
STILL ON TRACK: The Utes lost for the first time last week, getting blown out 42-24 by USC, but are still in control of their own destiny. They remain the lone one-loss team in the Pac-12 South. A one-loss Pac-12 champion is likely to get a berth in the College Football Playoff.
GOOD VS BAD: Utah quarterback Travis Wilson has been inconsistent throughout his career. The Utes play well when he does and struggle when he doesn’t. The team is 1-9 when he throws multiple interceptions. It’s no surprise Utah rolled over Oregon when Wilson had a career game and lost to unranked USC when he threw four last week.
QB NO. 2: The Beavers turned to redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Mitchell last week, who threw for 122 yards in his first game, and rotated him with freshman Seth Collins. Collins has started every game and leads the team with 536 yards rushing and five touchdowns, but has only completed 51.9 percent of his passes. The Utes are preparing for both.
QUOTABLE: Utah LB Gionni Paul on Sitake, “He brings the best out of players. It doesn’t matter the stars you have coming out of high school, if he sees potential in you, he’ll bring the best out of you. He’s a great coach because he’s a players’ coach.”