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.