More on that fresh set of eyes

Last week I mentioned that Smart hired another analyst, former Minnesota offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jay Johnson.  Marc Weiszer flushes out Johnson’s background a little, with a couple of quotes.

In one season at Minnesota, the Golden Gophers improved from 22.5 points per game in 2015 to 29.3 but ranked 107th in the nation in total offense, with a 357.2 yard average. Johnson and the Minnesota staff were fired after a 9-4 season.

The Lakeville, Minn., native and former Northern Iowa quarterback spent five seasons as offensive coordinator at Louisiana-Lafayette where his teams ranked in the top 35 nationally in rushing from 2012-14 and 10th in the nation in red zone offense in 2014 at 91.2 percent.

Georgia last year was 64th in red zone offense (84.4) while Minnesota was 36th (87.5).

“I was told by everybody who’s coached with Coach Johnson before that he does a tremendous job of taking advantage of weaknesses and how people have to defend him,” then Minnesota coach Tracy Claeys said last August. “I have to think in the red zone everybody has certain ways they like to play, and I have to think that he made good decisions on how to attack what they were doing.”

Penn State coach James Franklin, before his team beat Minnesota 29-26 in overtime last season, described Johnson as running an “efficient, balanced offense, uses multiple looks, formations, personnel groups, mainly two personnel groups, 11 personnel, one back, one tight end, three wide receivers, and 12 personnel, one back, two tight ends and two wide receivers. Big, physical line.”

Taking Franklin at face value, it sounds like Minnesota was running a lot of the same stuff last season Georgia was.  Minus the big, physical line, of course.

That being said, if Johnson’s got a few insights into successful red zone offensive play calls he’ll share with the class, it certainly can’t hurt.

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33 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

33 responses to “More on that fresh set of eyes

  1. Macallanlover

    You are right, it cannot hurt. Big 14 wouldn’t have been my search area of choice but after watching our offense last season, any change would be an improvement. What is this multiple looks, formations, etc., that you speak of? Is that legal?

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  2. JCDAWG83

    Every coach is great when they are hired.

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    • SemperFiDawg

      This. I still have cyanide coursing through my veins. I don’t care if he hires Saban. Until I see something on the field that doesn’t resemble the Nichols State game, I’m not tasting the koolaid again.

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    • loutown

      the guy was not so great at scoring against ranked teams, maybe 16 pts per gam, but boy, he averaged 35 against the unranked teams, got most of his stats from a 58 point performance vs a FCS team Indiana State, never hear of the Indiana St football program.He struggled at the end, scoring 17 in last 3 out of 4 games. Wasn’t Van Gorder supposed to give us another set of eyes?

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      • Will (The Other One)

        I’ll take 58 vs an FCS school almost no one’s heard of over not even cracking 30 points vs an FCS school almost no one’s heard of any day of the week though.

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      • sniffer

        Minnasota just finished with the 57th ranked recruiting class (zero 4 stars; 12th in the B10). If that is about average, then he didn’t have the talent to dominate too many teams.

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  3. McTyre

    Can’t hurt. However, Given that our RZ O was a well-oiled machine compared to our RZ D, where’s the quality control analyst on Kirby’s favorite side of the LOS?

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  4. South FL Dawg

    I like having another point of view. Just remind yourself the offense produced less than in Richt’s last year.

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    • merk

      The offense was pretty much the same also, outside of a true freshman at QB and losing MM (who was leaps and bounds beyond what we had last year). Between the regression of the line (which pretty much nullified our great TE depth) and lack of a solid go to receiver, I can see how they could have produced less. However, what I did see was a QB with some level of clutch play and some players begin to standout by the end of the season (Ridley and Nauta). If our WR can contribute with less drops and the Oline can produce decently, things will improve dramatically.

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      • Sherlock

        You are omitting the fact that the OL lost Theus and Houston as well. Losing every SEC level OT on the team and your best receiver while starting a true freshman QB while the offense is on its 3rd OC, 3rd OL coach, and 3rd QB in three years is not “pretty much the same”. It is a recipe for the mediocrity we saw.

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    • Please stop. It was Mark Richt’s O line that produced that. I was reminded every single week, thank you

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  5. Otto

    I’d like to know why after going 9-4 he was fired from Minnesota, that is their 2nd best winning percentage in 40? years

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    • I’ve posted about the Claeys firing. Stemmed from his support of the aborted player strike.

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      • Otto

        OK I remember now, my mind goes blank when it comes to mid pack B1G teams. I’ll be getting coffee now.

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      • DawgPhan

        and it totally had nothing to do with PJ Fleck being available.

        nope nothing to do with that at all.

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        • Sherlock

          You are correct. PJ Fleck had absolutely nothing to do with it at all. The idea that a middling B1G team would fire a HC after his first year, a year in which he went 9-4… i.e. their best season since they went 10-3 under Glenn Mason in 2003 – in order to gamble on a coach, one from the same coaching tree I may add, that had one good year at a MAC school is preposterous.

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        • Mayor

          I view the firing of Claeys differently. It was the administration committing football hari-kari. Holier than thou university presidents do it all the time and it usually kills the program, at least for a while. How many years did it take for Bama to recover from its president firing Mike Price for going to a titty bar and playing Big Dog? They were lucky at MN that Fleck would take the job.

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    • The whole staff was fired because the head coach endorsed the UM players’ boycott of the bowl game in protest over the handling of discipline related to an on campus sexual assault. While I can remember all the details, it was pretty clear that some of the players were culpable, and it was probably also true that the University punished some who were not involved. Nonetheless, UM admin fired the head coach and his staff for going against the admin.

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  6. W Cobb Dawg

    I hope the addition of Johnson lights a fire under Chaney. I like the hire. We need more brains on offense. We need a ‘real’ QB coach. Underperforming assistants need to know they can be replaced fairly easy.

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    • Kirby made clear upon his hiring that holding his assistants accountable was a significant part of his job. With all due respect, I don’t think we have reason to believe Chaney needs a “fire lit”. He may or may not turn out to be an effective OC at UGA, but if your point is that he needs his fire lit because of lack of effort, I am not sure how any of us would reach that conclusion.

      Nonetheless, Minnesota’s results in the red zone improved significantly in 2016 under his coaching. I have no idea if that was a fluke or not, but at a minimum, we have another experienced voice in the room, which usually helps with decision making.

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      • W Cobb Dawg

        “..I don’t think we have reason to believe Chaney needs a “fire lit”.”

        Wow! Chaney had worse results than the despised and quickly jettisoned Schotty, and you don’t believe he needs a fire lit?

        Mark my words, the Vandy loss was an example of Chaney’s career problem – he finds ways to lose. A ‘great’ year for Chaney is 8, maybe 9 wins. I guarantee he’ll find ways to continue costing us wins until Kirby finally gets to the point of ditching him. I don’t know if Johnson is the answer, but I do know Chaney isn’t.

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        • Mayor

          I agree with everything in your post except for the “fire lit” business. I don’t think Chaney’s lack of success as OC has been for lack of effort. I think it is because he is a lousy OC. Light all the fires you want under the guy he’s not getting any better. He’s been a mediocre position coach his whole life and scaring him won’t make him any better. He should have been fired at the end of the season and replaced with a good OC.

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        • W Cobb…ultimately, Chaney is the OC for 2017. I think everyone would agree that to achieve the success that we all want for the program that we have to have a more productive offense.

          I would suggest to you that speculation about the future performance of his offenses and his employment status is just guessing on your part. I would ask…What’s the point of it? Is it to be able to say, “i told you so” when Chaney fails? Is it to voice your doubts about Kirby because if that is the case, why not just argue that Kirby should be fired for keeping Chaney because no intelligent head coach would have hired and then retained a coach with Chaney’s very public mediocre track record?

          That said, I understand this a blog that discusses UGA football and Chaney is a part of it, but the concerns you raise are not particularly new. His pre-UGA resume has not changed in 12 months. More broadly, I don’t think any single game or the entire 2017 season was enough to draw any new conclusions about Chaney. Chaney did not check down to Nauta with Jayson Stanley running wide open against Vandy for a TD NOR did he whiff on his block of Cunningham like Kublanow did. Obviously, you disagree about his responsibility for such, and the point to my response is to suggest to you that you should have some faith that Kirby would have fired Chaney if he thought it was in the best interest of the program.

          Give him the benefit of the doubt and see what happens. If he does not deliver and Kirby ignores the problem, we will know we have the wrong head coach. Given what we return on offense, “significant” improvement is a very realistic standard for all of us to expect.

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          • W Cobb Dawg

            “…What’s the point of it? Is it to be able to say, “i told you so” when Chaney fails?”

            I’m not waiting to say ‘I told you so’. I’m telling anyone who’s interested in reading right fricken now.

            My hopes for a successful 2017 rest on the defense. In the decades I’ve followed the Dawgs I’ve seen dozens of assistants come and go. I’ve seen enough of Chaney to know he isn’t championship material. Maybe the jury is out for you. But for me, Chaney is a liability that should’ve been replaced. He’s not an up-and-coming prospect who’s learning the trade and improving over time, like Bobo was. This is as good as Chaney gets. Bringing Johnson in gives me a ray of hope Kirby is hedging his bet on Chaney.

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            • Tim in Sav

              I wonder if W Cobb said the same thing about Bobo when he started…..I know a bunch of you did LOL

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    • Otto

      How many snaps do you see Eason take from under centers?

      I am not saying Chaney is Bill Walsh but given what he had I’ll hold off from judging him.

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      • Russ

        So why did Chaney insist on putting Eason under center, even when he was struggling there? Play to the players’ best advantage, not how you wish they could play.

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        • Otto

          He has to learn. I firmly believe that is why Nichols was so close. He could have run shotgun and run them out of the stadium but Eason doesn’t learn to play under center and the team doesn’t learn toughness. However, I doubt anyone thought it would be that close.

          It is a balance playing to the talent you have and building for the future. Chaney did go shotgun early and often against Mizzou.

          Smart did not do himself any favors with the win//loss record with the fan base last year but if the program turns around he did not hurt himself. Chaney and Smart clearly believe in playing from under center and in an ideal world Eason gets a redshirt but he was pushed into learning on the job which I agree with given the other options.

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  7. loutown

    Minnesota to the rescue, this is our hope for turning around the 102nd scoring offense? Smsrt has some strange ideas, Brian Van Gorder hire was a flop, and he had a better pedigree. Smart’s judgment not good on coaches.

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  8. Derek II

    Is it fair to call our 3rd year 5-star WR a bust?

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    • He has been a good player at times for us, but it is unclear if his production will match his recruiting ranking. He is not particularly big NOR does he have blazing speed. He does have good hands and elusive after he catches the ball in space.

      McKenzie beat him out “fair and square” and repeatedly made plays to stay ahead of Godwin. If Wims and Ridley become more consistent threats, we don’t need Godwin to touch the ball as much as IM16 did a year ago. That said, if he improves as much as IM16 did in year 3, it would would certainly help our offense a LOT.

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