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Utah coach Kyle Whittingham explains Utes' coaching staff moves

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham speaks with reporters during national signing day Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015, in Salt Lake City. Whittingham knew his team was short-handed at several key positions after the 2014 season and set out to address them with the 2
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham speaks with reporters during national signing day Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015, in Salt Lake City. Whittingham knew his team was short-handed at several key positions after the 2014 season and set out to address them with the 2015 recruiting class. The Utes signed 20 new players to letters of intent during Wednesday's Signing Day and 14 of those will suit up on the offensive line, at receiver and in the defensive secondary. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer, AP

SALT LAKE CITY — Before discussing Utah’s signing class, head coach Kyle Whittingham addressed the changes he made to his staff for 2015 — noting it’s tough to recruit and fill staff openings at the same time.

“But that’s the nature of college football,” Whittingham acknowledged.

On Monday, Whittingham announced several moves, including the naming of Aaron Roderick and Jim Harding as co-offensive coordinators and the hiring of John Pease as defensive coordinator. They’re filling vacancies created by the departures of Dave Christensen (Texas A&M) and Kalani Sitake (Oregon State).

As far as the offense is concerned, Whittingham explained that it wasn’t in the equation to bring in someone from the outside to disrupt the scheme and change the terminology. He noted that the Utes have good coaches on the staff that the players really, really like and play for. Whittingham is hopeful the offense doesn’t miss a beat and continues in the direction the program has recruited to personnel-wise for a few years now as a spread attack.

Whittingham said that Roderick will be up in the box on game days calling the plays and primarily be in charge of the throw game. Harding will be on the sidelines overseeing the run game and pass protections.

“I think it’s a very workable situation,” Whittingham said. “Both guys are very good coaches and I think we’ve got a good situation there.”

Roderick and Harding will continue to coach the quarterbacks and offensive line, respectively.

When asked about co-coordinators not always working out elsewhere, Whittingham joked that the single coordinator thing doesn’t work out all the time either.

On defense, Whittingham explained his decision to hire Pease. The 71-year-old former Ute is a longtime NFL and college assistant, who retired in 2010 after two seasons as Utah’s defensive line coach.

While noting that there were coaches already on staff — particularly safeties coach Morgan Scalley — qualified as candidates for the job, Whittingham ultimately opted to go with Pease.

“When I had a chance to finally catch up with Coach Pease and talk to him and gauge his interest, which turned out to be very, very strong, I felt that was the best thing for us at this time,” he explained.

Scalley, who is the team’s recruiting coordinator, added the title of special teams coordinator in the recent shuffle.

“Morgan’s a very capable guy. He can multitask,” Whittingham said. “He’s got a lot on his plate, but he’s handled it well.”

Whittingham may give the recruiting coordinator duties to the new tight ends coach he expects to hire sometime in the next two weeks.

In other moves, Whittingham promoted Dennis Erickson to assistant head coach and hired Weber State defensive coordinator Justin Ena as linebackers coach.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer