Right now Utah football fans are super excited. Instead of recruiting a bunch of mid level recruits and working to improve them through coaching, the Utes are working to recruit higher ranked recruits. If the Utes can take the next step in their recruiting they can improve from the 8-4/9-3 talent level they currently have. So far the results have been good with Utah football recruiting several 4 star recruits and several high level 3 star recruits. Last Friday night Utah football announced that Jack Tuttle who is a 4 star quarterback accepted a 2018 football scholarship.
Utah football fans are excited because Jack Tuttle is a highly regarded recruit who none of us heard of before last Friday. Jack Tuttle may or may not ever play for the Utes because 1 year is a long time in football recruiting, he might change his mind or he could have a bad year or he could get injured and the Utes wouldn’t want him anymore. Or he could be so great that suddenly all the top teams want him and promise him that he will be the starter Day 1 and he wouldn’t want to come to Utah. However what is most interesting about the Jack Tuttle signing isn’t the fact that a 4 star quarterback has interest in the Utah Utes but what it means for Utah’s offense in the future. Jack Tuttle is a pocket passer. Recruiting Jack Tuttle indicates that Utah is considering making serious changes to its offense over the next few years.
One of Utah football’s biggest problems since joining the Pac12 has been their offense. At first the Utah Utes didn’t have the speed and skill players to field a competitive offense. Utah has always been good on the O-line and D-line. Utah was able to be one of the top teams outside the major conferences because of their O-line and D-line. However they didn’t have the receivers nor the quarterback play to win week in and week out in the Pac12. Since joining the Pac12 Utah football has been able to recruit better players and every year Utah’s offense is a little bit better than the year before.
However the problem with Utah football’s offense is Utah wants to run a spread, high octane offense. The problem is Utah’s offense doesn’t match its grand strategy to win games nor does it match Utah’s recruiting strengths. Kyle Whittingham is a really good coach. The work he’s done over the years with the Utah Utes is phenomenal. He wants to win games by playing great defense, controlling the clock on offense and out executing the other team. It is a good strategy and it is very effective.
The problem is Utah football runs a spread offense. To run a spread offense well, teams need to play fast and run lots of plays. Good spread offenses generate big plays by playing fast, getting the other team in a bad defensive formation and exploiting their matchup problems. Kyle Whittingham wants to play a slow game which minimizes the effectiveness of the spread offense.
The other big problem with Utah’s offense is their offense doesn’t match their recruiting strengths. Utah is a really good football recruiting ground, even though most Utah fans don’t know it. Utah produces tons of guys who can play on the O-line and the D-line. The 3 most important parts of every team are the O-line, D-line and quarterback. The state of Utah bulk produces O-linemen and D-linemen better than anywhere else in the western United States. Utah doesn’t produce a lot of skill players like wide receivers. The Utah Utes always can find and develop good running backs. Nobody knows why but the Utes almost always have a NFL level running back.
When we look at the strengths of Utah football recruiting on offense it is the O-line and running backs. The biggest struggle in recruiting is wide receiver. The Utes also makes another mistake in recruiting and that is Utah football doesn’t recruit a lot of tight ends. The state of Utah produces a lot of great tight ends. BYU football used to run a supply line of tight ends from their football program right into the NFL. The Utah Utes are making a huge mistake not maximizing the quality of their tight ends.
For Utah football to take the next step with their football program, they need an offense that matches the strengths of their recruiting and minimizes its weaknesses. The Utah Utes need to adopt the Stanford offense. Stanford has had a top level Pac12 program for most of the last decade based off of having an incredibly physical offensive line, a ton of tight ends and a physical running game. Stanford had 3 years with Andrew Luck as their quarterback when they were a top 5 team in the nation, but outside of Andrew Luck their quarterbacks were no big deal.
The Jack Tuttle way too early signing indicates that Utah football is going to change their offense over the next 2 or 3 years. College football recruiting websites say that Jack Tuttle is a pocket passer. He isn’t the kind of quarterback Utah has recruited in the past. Recruiting a player like Jack Tuttle indicates that over the next few years Utah is going to adopt an offense like Stanford’s offense. This is a good thing because the Utah Utes running the Stanford offense will allow Utah to match their recruiting strengths and minimize their recruiting weaknesses.
Utah football may also be getting ready to exploit a major inefficiency in college football recruiting: the pocket passer inefficiency. Right now the top programs recruit lots of good receivers and they like to run a spread offense. If they can spread their opposition out with their receivers and have a quarterback who can run for first downs they can hold the ball and wear their competition down. The top programs like Alabama and Ohio State like to recruit black quarterbacks because it is easier to get a fast black quarterback who can make 1 read and either throw or run. They don’t want to invest in a pro style offense quarterback because it is harder to develop these guys. Besides their strength is they have lots of great receivers who can get open easily. The first read usually is open on these teams.
Right now there is a huge inefficiency because the top programs aren’t interested in recruiting and developing White quarterbacks. In football the best quarterbacks are always White. But the best college football programs don’t want to spend the time and effort developing them. Utah has a chance to become the school that will recruit and develop White quarterbacks. Utah could quickly recruit a strong stable of White quarterbacks just by showing that they are willing to develop them. Right now is a huge opportunity for Utah football to take the next step with its football program. If Utah gets into the White quarterback recruiting and developing game, the Utes can have good O-lines, D-lines and quarterbacks and be in position to take the program from the 8-4 level to the 10-2 level.
Kyle Whittingham is a really smart guy. He already knows everything that I just wrote. He doesn’t think about it in terms of racial awareness like White quarterbacks, but thinks of it in terms of “pocket passers.” Over the next month or so look for Utah football to announce that they hired somebody really talented to work with quarterbacks. Does anybody know what Norm Chow is up to these days? Recruiting players like Jack Tuttle shows that Utah is getting serious about running an offense that matches their recruiting strengths and that Utah football is interested in exploiting the “pocket passer” inefficiency in college football.
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