Johnson wants Utah to have aggressive attitude on offense
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah offensive coordinator Brian Johnson is bringing more than just youth to the job. The 25-year-old plans to instill a new attitude in his first season at the helm.
"I think the first thing, obviously, that we need to do is create a culture where we have an aggressive mentality on offense," Johnson said. "I want us to be aggressive and confident in our approach each and every day."
Johnson, who is major college football's youngest offensive coordinator, begins his on-field tenure in the position Tuesday afternoon at Rice-Eccles Stadium when the Utes kick off spring ball.
Although he has a "vested interest" in all aspects of the offense, Johnson's primary focus will be on the position group he coaches — the quarterbacks.
Jordan Wynn, who played in only four games last season before being sidelined with a shoulder injury, is back. The junior opens camp on top of the depth chart.
"Jordan is our No. 1 quarterback going into spring. I think what he brings to the table, when he's healthy, is obviously something that will definitely help us contend for a Pac-12 championship," Johnson said. "He's obviously had some hard times here going through injury and things of that nature, but he's as tough as they get and I'm positive he'll find a way to bounce back."
Wynn, he added, is extremely healthy. The quarterback told espn.com last week that both of his surgically repaired shoulders "feel great" and that he's been throwing at 100 percent since January.
"Jordan busted his tail to get to this point," Johnson said. "He'll be ready to go."
Wynn headlines a cast of quarterbacks that includes senior Jon Hays and highly touted freshmen Travis Wilson and Chase Hansen. All of the players will be in camp and have already met as a group with Johnson.
"The two young guys are extremely talented and Jordan and Jon have played a bunch of football here for us and won a bunch of games," Johnson said. "So I think it's a real dynamic mix and I'm looking forward to see how this thing shakes out."
By the end of spring ball, Johnson would like to have a pecking order in place. Camp opens with Wilson and Hansen sharing the No. 2 spot behind Wynn and ahead of Hays, who made nine starts last season.
All four quarterbacks, though, will get opportunities this spring.
"Competition makes everybody better," Johnson said. "These guys will all learn from each other and work with each other to get better over the course of the spring."
Johnson said the quarterbacks will continue to compete as long as they are Utes.
"That's part of the mentality and the culture we want to create as an offense — be ultra-competitive in everything that we do," he explained. "Being a quarterback doesn't make you immune to having that drive to compete. Those guys understand that."
The learning curve, however, will be a little bit more steep for Hansen and Wilson. Johnson noted it's the reality of the situation. They've yet to play at this level and have a lot more to learn about it.
Even so, Hansen and Wilson are going to be in the mix this spring.
"We're going to throw both of them in there and see what happens," Johnson said. "Both of those guys are going to have a lot to learn. I love the physical tools and the mentality that they bring.
"Both of them, you can tell, are natural-born leaders. Guys kind of naturally just cling to them," he continued. "They have that edge back there that you look for. I'm extremely excited to work with both of those guys. They'll both get a ton of reps this spring and we'll see how it shakes out."
Johnson also had praise for Hays.
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