When former Utah quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson stepped down in February to go to Mississippi State, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham found himself in opportunistic situation. Why, you ask? Because having a former Passing Game Coordinator and Offensive Coordinator already on the staff allowed him the luxury of looking at a variety of options.
Enter Aaron Roderick.
There's little question in coaching circles that Roderick is a talented offensive mind. In his 15 years of coaching he has coached receivers (nine years, Utah), quarterbacks (two years, Southern Utah), and running backs (one year, Snow College). "(Whittingham) talked to me about coaching the quarterbacks and I know that it went through Coach Christensen as well," said Roderick. "I don't really know what their conversation was about, but they asked me to do it and I was excited. I feel prepared and ready to go."
That shift allowed the program to hire wide receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield in an approach that helped find the best fit as opposed to filling a need. Throughout his years of coaching, Roderick has been around some bright minds and he believes that collaborating with those coaches has prepared him for this transition.
"I've sat next to some great quarterback coaches like Andy Ludwig, Norm Chow, Robbie Bosco, and Brian did a great job here," he said. "You know, Dennis (Erickson) hasn't coached quarterbacks, but Dennis has such a wealth of knowledge, I've learned a lot about quarterback play from Dennis."
So far the transition looks to have gone relatively smooth as the former Coordinator seems to be more in his element.
"I've said this before, whenever you coordinate, everything you do is through the eyes of a quarterback," said Roderick. "When you're calling plays, when you're game planning. With everything you're put together, no matter what other position you coach, as coordinator, you're still doing it through the lens of a quarterback, so I think that prepares you to coach quarterbacks. "
The Utah quarterbacks do miss Johnson and genuinely wish him well, but it is apparent that Roderick's calm demeanor suits their position-something Conner Manning previously eluded to.
"One thing I've learned is the temperament you have to have to play quarterback and I think that sort of suits my personality," explained Roderick. "Hopefully I can just be a calming influence on those guys and help them develop."
Roderick's personality has not exactly changed, he just recognizes and understands-from all his years of coaching-what each position needs in order to be pushed and be successful.
"I don't really think I've changed my personality, but the position is a little bit different," he explained. "I mean, when you're coaching receivers, you've got to be chasing them around and hustling on the run, and getting them going. When you're coaching quarterbacks there's a little bit different approach in that you're talking more through the details of the offense and there's just getting guys to hustle and go. (Half the job) of coaching receivers is pushing them to run for four quarters."
The main area of emphasis for his quarterbacks this spring will be taking care of the football. It is an area that was probably Utah's biggest culprit for their underwhelming 5-7 record in 2013.
"Our number one job in this program is to take care of the ball. Coach Whittingham has a plan to win and the most important thing the offense can do is take care of the football, so we're trying to cut down on turnovers and take good care of the ball," said Roderick. "Then, when we get in the red zone, we want to score touchdowns. There's a huge emphasis this spring on fewer turnovers and getting touchdowns in the red zone. We feel like if we can improve in those two areas, we've got a chance to win a few more games this year."
Roderick and his quarterbacks have a big challenge ahead of them as he admits, "We've got to get better." Still, he believes he is ready for a challenge that he believes his whole career has prepared him for.
"It's something I feel like I'm prepared to do. You know, I've coached long enough now and I'm excited about it," said Roderick.