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Utah Utes Preview: UCLA Needs To Avoid Hibernating

Let's finish up our Utah previews with a look at the Utes' Coaching staff, special teams and the keys to the game.

Noel Mazzone needs to call an effective game in order for the Bruins to beat the Utes.
Noel Mazzone needs to call an effective game in order for the Bruins to beat the Utes.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Experience. If there's one thing you can say about the Utah coaching staff, it's that they are experienced. Not only has Kyle Whittingham been coaching at Utah for over 20 years, he's surrounded himself with guys who know the game.

Dennis Erickson is the Utes' Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs coach. In addition to winning two national championships as the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes, Erickson has coached at four Pac-12 schools as well as two NFL teams.

Defensive Coordinator John Pease is another guy with a lifetime of experience. He has actually retired twice. He was lured out of retirement for the second time this season after Kilani Sitake left Utah to join Gary Andersen at Oregon State. Interestingly, Pease was the defensive line coach for Jim Mora, Sr. when he coached the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars and the New Orleans Saints. Overall, Pease has spent 11 seasons in the NFL and this is his fourth stint with the Utes. He runs a base 4-3 defense.

The Utes have two guys who serve as the co-offensive coordinators, Aaron Roderick and Jim Harding. Roderick also coaches the quarterbacks while Harding also coaches the offensive line.

Special Teams

The Utes' leading scorer is their placekicker Andy Phillips. Phillips is a perfect 40 for 40 on PATs while he has made 18 of 22 field goal attempts. His four misses have all been from more than 45 yards. His long for the season is a 53-yarder. Phillips will also handle kickoff duties where 18 of his 66 kickoffs have gone for touchbacks and he is averaging 60.2 yards per kickoff.

Tom Hackett is the Utes' punter. Hackett has 14 fair catches and 6 touchbacks on 66 punts. He is averaging 47.1 yards per punt and his long is 76 yards.

The Utah return guys can be dangerous. Punt returner Britain Covey has returned 1 punt for a TD while averaging 11.7 per return. Covey is also one of the Utah kick returners, having returned 6 kickoffs for an average of 24.5 yards per return.

Cory Butler-Brown has also returned 6 kickoffs, one of which was a touchdown. He is averaging 29.8 yards per return.

Keys To The Game

1. Avoid Hibernation: This is the most hostile climate the Bruins have faced all season. Game time temp should be somewhere around 41 degrees. The Bruins need to stay warm and keep moving the ball offensively to pull this one out.

2. Give Perk The Rock: Part of keeping the ball moving is effectively executing the running game. Noel Mazzone needs to remember he has one of the best rushers in the conference in Paul Perkins and let Perk pound the Rock, especially from the 2-yard line.

3. Avoid Penalties: Only time will tell if the refs are gunning for the Bruins or if calling out the officiating after last week has affected how the officials call this one. Either way, the Bruins NEED to play disciplined football against a good Utah team.