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Utah football: Smooth transition expected for OC Brian Johnson

Published August 30, 2012 4:33 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah's opener against Northern Colorado will be the debut of offensive coordinator Brian Johnson.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham doesn't believe it will be a difficult transition for Johnson, who will call the plays from the box for the first time.

"He has called plenty of plays as a quarterback, so it's not brand new to him," Whittingham said. "I'm comfortable with him. He handled himself well in scrimmages, we put him in two or three situations and he was outstanding, so there are no reservations whatsoever. We have a lot of confidence in Brian."

The 25-year-old Johnson, who replaced Norm Chow when Chow accepted the head coaching position at Hawaii, is the youngest coordinator in the country.

What about the D?

The offense might have a few new wrinkles in it, but defensively, expect more of the same from the Utes, according to Utah defensive lineman Dave Kruger.

The Utes ranked near the top of the Pac-12 in several categories, including scoring defense (20.2) in 2011.

"You're going to see the same as always," Kruger said. "It will be the typical Kyle Whittingham defense. We need to stop the run and bring the blitzes on the pass. It's the same defense as we've always had, but we have a lot of talent this year."

More of the same

As much as the Utes have talked about helping John White shoulder the running back duties with the presence of Jarrell Oliver and Kelvin York, the Utes still plan to give White the ball — a lot.

The Utes would like to see him carry the ball between 20 and 25 times a game, which would put him close to his effort in 2011.

"He is still the featured back, no question about it," Whittingham said. "He had 316 carries last year; we'd like less than that, but he is still the main force in the run game. We'll supplement it, but he's still the guy who will get the vast majority of the workload."

Asked how often he'd like to carry the ball, White was quick with an answer.

"Whatever coach gives me," he said.

Of note

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott will be presented with a Utah and Pac-12 Network flag during the pregame festivities. The flags will be delivered from a skydiving Swoop. … Standing-room-only tickets remain available for the opener. … Four Utes are preparing to start for their fourth season. They are Kruger, offensive lineman Tevita Stevens, receiver Luke Matthews and punter Sean Sellwood.