Utah offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, the youngest offensive coordinator in major college football, helped the 3-5 Utes (1-4 in the Pac 12) to their best offensive point total of the season last weekend, putting up 49 points on Cal and snapping their four game losing streak.
The Bears hadn’t given up that many points since an week three loss to Nevada in 2010 (52-31).
Johnson credits part of their success on Saturday with being able to make the move from the press box down to the field while passing game coordinator Aaron Roderick took his place up in the box.
According to the Deseret News, for Johnson, the move was all about being able to look his guys in the eyes and being able to communicate with his quarterbacks as soon as they come off the field, both of which can’t be done over the headphones.
That’s a much different vantage point than Ohio State offensive coodinator Tom Herman shares, who credited their overtime win over Purdue a few weeks ago to being in the box away from the emotion of the game.
“You can talk to someone on the headphones, but it’s not quite the same as being there face-to-face. It’s give-and-take, though you lose a little bit of a vantage point with your coordinator being down.” Johnson explained.
Kyle Whittingham added, “Fortunately we have Aaron Roderick, who has experience being in the box as a coordinator and is a good set of eyes for Brian up there.”
The win was not pretty (by any stretch) for the offense. However, even though they were outgained by the Bears, they were somewhat efficient, and the bottom line is that they found a way to win (and put up nearly 50 points in the process). The Utes managed to run for 188 yards and 4 touchdowns and completed 67% of their passes (16 of 24) for 156 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
Each staff has their own strengths and weaknesses and it’s just a matter of time until everyone figures out their role and how to effectively handle those roles on game day. Coach Whittingham seems to think they’ve found their formula and plans to keep the coaching assignments the same moving forward.
“It seemed to be something that was a positive for us. We made the move with just those hopes in mind,” Whittingham explained. “Moving forward we anticipate leaving it the same way and don’t anticipate that changing unless we run into another reason to take a look at it,” he said.
Utah will look to remain on the winning track against Washington State (2-6, 0-5) this weekend, before hitting the road to take on Washington (4-4, 2-3) next weekend. They’ll wrap their season up, looking to get bowl eligible, with games against Arizona (5-3, 2-3) at home, and Colorado (1-7, 1-4) on the road.