Brad Rock: Say what you will, Utes' Johnson is a winner
Brian Johnson entered the records books in typical fashion Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. It wasn't picture perfect, but honestly, isn't that like griping about Obama's mole?
You don't knock what's working.
No doubt about it, the man both men are on a roll.
The Utes moved their win streak to nine games by demolishing Colorado State, 49-16. All they need now is to keep doing what they've done, which is figure out ways to overcome obstacles.
Don't you wish they were in charge of the economic recovery?
Heading the charge is quarterback Johnson, who tied Alex Smith for the most starting wins in school history. It took Johnson a little longer (28 games to 22) and he's had more detours, thanks to injury. But there he is, a fixture in the books.
"I was aware of that," he said. "That was a personal goal I set for myself. But we've got a ton of football left."
The appeal of Johnson is that he's not afraid to deal with stuff, good or bad. The criticism, the hype, the pressure he loves it. He once said he doesn't worry about media and fan criticism, because all that vanishes if he throws the winning touchdown the next week.
He's a long-view, big-picture kind of guy.
Win enough games, media and fans will eat your shorts and call them ice cream.
That's what happened this year. Through much of the Oregon State game, he was below average. The Ute offense had stalled. But in the final two minutes, he marched them downfield, throwing a 25-yard touchdown pass to tie the score, then got them in position for a game-winning field goal.
Johnson could have run for mayor and won.
Saturday there wasn't much to criticize. He completed 18-of-26 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown. OK, there was that second-quarter interception, when he got hit as he threw. Otherwise, he was great. Isn't that the way he's always been? (It should be noted he sat out considerable time while backup Cobin Louks ran the offense.)
Truth is, Johnson is tough to single out. Knocking him is like knocking the guy who fixes your sink. He may make a slight mess, and even momentarily plug things up, but when he's finished, everything is working fine.
Johnson has fumbled in several games and thrown six interceptions. He has been criticized for holding the ball too long, forcing passes and missing open receivers. The offense can inexplicably stall for long periods. Last week in Wyoming, for instance, the Utes totaled just 242 yards.
Yet Johnson is completing 66 percent of his passes. His touchdown-to-interception ratio is still better than 2-to-1 and he is second in the conference in passing efficiency.
"We've heard it over and over, how inconsistent we were, even though we were averaging 37 points a game," said Johnson. "So we wanted to come out and make a statement, stay focused and get ready to play."
The story on Johnson is that, regardless of the hiccups, there's all that winning. He is 16-1 as a starter since returning from a season-opening shoulder injury last year. He also missed the 2006 season with a damaged knee.
For his part, Johnson doesn't seem particularly worried. You know, the winning-trumps-everything approach.
"At the end of the day and I've had this conversation with plenty of people you look at this team five years down the road, 10 years down the road, the only thing that people remember is wins," he said. "So right now you can re-figure this all you want, but this team keeps winning football games, and that's all we can control. "All they need to, in fact.
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