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Wednesday, October 21, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Utes lure EWU coach Troy Taylor to Utah

Former Eastern Washington assistant coach Troy Taylor is the new head coach at Sacramento State. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Former Eastern Washington assistant coach Troy Taylor is the new head coach at Sacramento State. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Salt Lake Tribune

Utah’s next offensive coordinator was scheming against high school teams two years ago.

But in hiring Troy Taylor – a former NFL quarterback and a respected passing guru – Utah football feels it may be hitting upon the next big thing.

The Utes announced the hire of 48-year-old Taylor on Monday as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, plucking the Eastern Washington playcaller from the Big Sky after only one season. In that season, Taylor coached a former walk-on to an FCS record-setting year with 5,160 passing yards to validate a system he created at his California passing academy and at powerhouse Folsom High in Sacramento, California – the system he has been given “full freedom” to install at Utah starting this spring.

“We don’t huddle, and we have the ability to go fast,” Taylor said in an interview with the Tribune. “We try to be aggressive and attack all parts of the field. It’s a little different than what some people are used to.”

Calling plays for the Eagles last season, Taylor directed an offense that finished No. 1 in the FCS in passing yards (401 ypg), No. 2 in total yards (529 ypg) and No. 3 in scoring offense (42.4 ppg). EWU went 12-2 this past season on the way to an FCS playoffs semifinal finish, and quarterback Gage Gabrud threw for 48 touchdowns. The team’s season opener was played in Pullman where the Eagles upset Washington State 45-42.

Taylor said he got the EWU job somewhat unexpectedly: Washington coach Chris Petersen recommended him to head coach Beau Baldwin.

“Getting your foot in the door is the biggest challenge,” he said. “The football transition, it was pretty much the same.”

For a team on its ninth offensive coordinator in 10 seasons and which has languished in the bottom tier of passing offense every year in the Pac-12, Utah is ready to take a risk to improve its “throw game” woes.

Taylor replaces Utah’s co-coordinator set-up from the past two years: Playcaller Aaron Roderick was fired last week, while offensive line coach Jim Harding was named “assistant head coach.”

“I have watched Troy Taylor closely over the years when he was coaching innovative high school offenses in California and was eager to see how that translated to college coaching,” Coach Kyle Whittingham said in a statement. “He achieved the same results at Eastern Washington and we are fortunate that Troy was interested in bringing that style of offense here to Utah.”

Utah finished ninth in the Pac-12 in passing yards (216.7 ypg), eighth in scoring offense (29.3 ppg) and seventh in total offense (430.7 pyg). Whittingham pointed to Utah’s struggles in the red zone as the particular concern this year, as the team finished 110th nationally with a 77.8 scoring rate nearing the end zone.

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