Pro-style offense changing in Utah

2011-07-29T00:01:00Z 2014-07-08T15:44:52Z Pro-style offense changing in UtahPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 29, 2011 12:01 am  • 

SALT LAKE CITY - Norm Chow is changing Utah's offense.

But talking about formations and verbiage, he said, is missing the point.

"The style doesn't really matter," the Utes' offensive coordinator said. "What matters is that attitude: that I'll make whatever style you want work."

The play-calling guru joins Kyle Whittingham's staff after stops at USC, the Tennessee Titans and UCLA; the Bruins are still paying him $500,000 this year.

The Utah alum's task is to put quarterback Jordan Wynn regularly under center, rather than the shotgun, and to instill more of a pro-style attack.

"Change of philosophy is going very well," Whittingham said this week. "That is one of the reasons, the primary reasons, we brought Norm in - to instill more of a pro-style attack."

A week before the start of fall camp, Chow is sure there will be issues.

"You learn that, in coaching, nothing's easy," he said.

The Star talked to Chow in his Salt Lake City office and Whittingham in Los Angeles this week to find out how the change could spark the Utes in their first year of Pac-12 play:

The quarterback fits

Wynn "fits this style of football," Chow said.

Whittingham agrees.

"He's been in shotgun the last couple years for us and has done a good job with that," Whittingham said. "His skill set is such that being under center is a much better situation for him.

"That's what he did in high school. He was under center in high school almost exclusively, so we think this is the right direction to go."

Neither coach, however, has seen the junior in action yet.

Wynn wasn't able to throw a single pass in spring practice after having surgery Dec. 13 on his right throwing shoulder. He injured his shoulder in the finale against BYU and watched as the Utes lost to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Wynn threw for 2,334 yards and went 8-2 in 10 games last year.

Whittingham said the quarterback has "no limitations" physically, though the coaching staff would limit his throws early in camp.

"Job One, in fact, is keeping Jordan Wynn healthy throughout the course of the season," Whittingham said. "We want to make sure that we don't overwork him early on in camp."

They've bought in

It's one thing for the Utes to be taught the offense, Chow said. It's another for them to believe in it.

Chow said he has a supporter in an important place - the strength and conditioning department.

"What I think is a big deal is Kyle and the strength coach (Doug Elisaia), who spends more time with the players than anybody, have done a terrific job of not only developing strength and speed … but developing an attitude that we're here to play football," he said.

It's not a huge change

Chow said he "probably" has more independence this year than last season, when UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel was involved in offensive planning.

Chow plans to use some similar formations to Utah's spread offense from last season.

"Just the fact that we went from the shotgun to being under center, we'll still be in the shotgun some," he said.

Chow will benefit from a mostly intact coaching staff; all but two Utes coaches are back from last season.

"They did a lot of similar things," he said. "A lot of plays were the same."

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