Q&A: Utah assistant coach Dave Schramm

Utah co-offensive coordinator Dave Schramm has overseen one of the best-scoring units in the country this season. The offense ranks third in the nation in scoring, averaging 46 points per game, and has gotten great balance from backs Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata, and quarterback Jordan Wynn.

He took a few minutes to answer a few questions about Wynn, the offense, and facing TCU.

Where is Jordan Wynn today compared to where he was when you played TCU last year?

Dave Schramm: I’d say he’s light years from where he was and he’s light years from where he needs to be by the time he’s a senior. He’s an extremely mature young man, which is what allowed him to do what he did a year ago for us. He takes football very seriously. If there is a negative about Jordan, sometimes you have to reign that in a little bit. He’s an aggressor, he sees things happen on the field and sometimes we have to caution him not to make some of the throws. He has to get the ball to the heroes so he can be a hero.

But now he knows what everybody does on the offense. A year ago, he knew his job. Now he is at a point knowing the offense, if a wideout doesn’t know where to line up, he can help them. He can help if the back is misaligned. He has an innate ability to lead, and people follow him.

So what to expect when he is a senior, then?

DS: By the time he’s a senior, we can grab popcorn and a Coke and watch the offense and not have to call a play. He’s already to a point where the play is about to get called and he knows what’s about to get called. That’s how we game plan. Everything we do is designed for situations. He understands how our game plan is broken down. He knows as the game is going down, OK we crossed the 50, we’re getting close to the red zone, expect this blitz and I know we’re going to go to this. He’s able right now to be a step ahead so his mind is already thinking. There’s no surprise. A year ago, he would wait to see the play call and wait to see where we need to go. It allows us to go much faster, to have a lot faster tempo than we had a year ago. Where he’ll be two years from now is much faster, especially in terms of putting pressure on defenses.

How do you explain the unselfishness on this team, especially with your running backs Wide and Asiata?

DS: It’s coach (Kyle) Whittingham. What he preaches to this team is: We’re a family. Without a doubt not every single guy in the locker room goes out to picnics on the weekends, but when you come on the field, you have to understand we as coaches are going to put you in the best situations. Eddie and Matt understand in our scheme, we don’t call any different plays for Matt that we would call for Eddie. When we were going into the first game it was like we’re a one-back team, which one is going to start? We left it up to them. Matt’s a captain, and Eddie’s a senior. They both said, ‘Let the other guy start.’ That’s the kind of guys they are.

Is this the best chemistry on the team since you got here in 2005?

DS: No question. It’s just grown that way because he’s steering the ship and that’s the way he wants it. Even before they get to the locker room it starts in recruiting. Character is a big issue with the guys. We try to make sure we’re not bringing guys in here that aren’t going to understand that this isn’t about you as an individual. This is about the Utes as a team.

What is the strength of the TCU defense?

DS: Their strength is all 11. Without question this is the best defensive football team we’ve played to this point. They give you problems scheme wise, but they are very talented. The guys that make things go are the safeties, because they are the unblocked guys and they make the tackles. You can get a hat on a hat in the front seven, but it’s the unblocked safety that gets you the whole time.

What is the key when going against a 4-2-5 defense?

DS: The key to the defense is the players. It’s not so much their scheme. Gary (Patterson) and their staff have done a great job recruiting to that system. They have big safeties and they have two linebackers that are very physical and very fast. Any coach worth his salt can design plays on the board, we can get this guy blocked, but when those Xs and Os are on the field, when that guy’s a lot better it’s a lot harder to block them.

They have two great defensive ends in Wayne Daniels and Stansly Maponga. How do you slow them down?

DS: We’ve got to be able to run the football. That’s what’s going to slow those guys down, bottom line. A year ago, we’re down 21 points real fast and now we have to throw the ball to catch up. If you’re going to do that with those guys, it’s like throwing raw meat in a shark tank. So they’re rushing the passer and that’s what we have to avoid, stay out of third and long, protect the football and mix up our run and pass, because that’s what will slow them down.