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Utah's Erickson happy to be back in the game

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 22, 2013 at 3:16 pm •  Published: August 22, 2013

Wilson said he's embraced a leadership role as well as the new no-huddle offense.

"It's going to be a lot faster," Wilson said. "We're going to really try to achieve a lot more plays throughout the whole game. That's the big emphasis."

Erickson said Wilson is progressing nicely.

"We weren't very good on offense last year and we were very inexperienced on the offensive line," Erickson said. "So he got introduced to it in maybe not the best situation. But he learned from it. And I really like where he's coming from and how he's improved. He's going to be the guy that makes this offense go."

The Utes open the season next Thursday night at home against rival Utah State. Utah is expected to finish fifth in the Pac-12 South, where the team finished last season.

The Utes were in the Mountain West Conference before joining the Pac-12 for the 2011 season. The team is still transitioning to the faster, bigger league, but the players think they'll surprise some of the naysayers with the new offense.

"We'll be able to surprise a lot of people given where we were as an offense last year and not being very productive. Hopefully, we can come out and have that underdog mentality as an offense and just surprise people. Catch them on their toes," junior tight end Jake Murphy said. "Not many people are expecting much out of our offense right now. We like it like that. It should be interesting."

Erickson and Johnson will share play-calling duties, with Johnson on the field and Erickson upstairs in the box.

After more than 40 years in coaching, Erickson said it's been decades since he's watched from above.

"It will be a little different, but it should be fun," he said. "I can have a hot dog if I want one. And I don't have to stand out in the weather if it's pouring. So I like that."


AP freelancer John Coon in Utah contributed to this report.