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Football: Hudspeth begins search to replace Johnson – going to Golden Gophers

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, Dec. 30, 2015

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Former UL offensive coordinator Jay Johnson. (Photo: Advertiser file photo)

There are certainly some negative aspects to the news that former UL offensive coordinator Jay Johnson has accepted the same position with the Minnesota Gophers of the Big 10.

For starters, losing a successful assistant coach – one that led the Ragin’ Cajuns’ offense to four New Orleans Bowl victories before this past season’s 4-8 campaign –  is usually not a cause for celebration.

Secondly, no program wants to lose one of its top assistants in the middle of recruiting season.

Despite those factors, however, UL head coach Mark Hudspeth refuses to focus on the negatives of the development.

Especially with so many positives to detail.

“From a personal standpoint, I’m just so happy for Jay and his family,” Hudspeth said of the Lakeville, Minn. native who played QB at Northern Iowa. “He’ll be a lot closer to his mom and dad. There are just so many positives for Jay, and professionally going to the Big 10, financially getting a pay raise and with his family.”

Secondly, Hudspeth said it’s a huge compliment to UL’s program.

“You look at James Willis going to the Saints, Tim Rebowe being hired as a head coach at Nicholls, Matt Wallerstedt getting a defensive coordinator position (UNC-Charlotte) and now Jay going to Minnesota,” he said. “You don’t hire coaches from bad programs. I won’t be calling any bad programs (to replace Johnson).”

Hudspeth added that keeping an offensive staff virtually intact during his five years at UL is “almost unheard of” in today’s world.

“We didn’t have one single offensive coach leave in our first two years here,” he said. “You just don’t see that. I’d say that we’ve had more stability than 90 percent or more of the programs in America.”

Hudspeth said he’s known about the news since “right before Christmas,” but that the announcement was delayed a few days around the holidays by Minnesota.

As a result, he’s had “four or five days of doing my homework” to find a replacement.

Hudspeth said he’ll be looking for a new coordinator that best suits the current makeup of talent on the squad and then recruit to that system in the future.

“We no longer have a 245-pound tailback to move the sticks,” Hudspeth said. “I’ll be looking for someone who can utilize the talent we have on the roster right now. We have some talented young wideouts and a very fast, athletic running back, as well as a talented young quarterback in Jordan Davis.”

Hudspeth said he’s confident he’ll have his staff back intact before signing day.

During his stay with the Cajuns, Johnson set school records for total offense (5,914) and points (461) in 2012. In 2014, UL finished 22nd nationally in rushing offense at 225.9 yards per game, as well as 10th nationally in red zone effeciencey at 91.2.

In 2013, the offense set school records for total first downs (283), while quarterback Terrance Broadway led all Sun Belt quarterbacks in passing efficiency while completing 62 percent of his passes for 2,419 yards and 19 touchdowns.

In 2011, Blaine Gautier emerged as one of the top offensive threats in the south, throwing for a school record 2,958 yards and 23 touchdowns. In 2012, Broadway replaced Gautier and set a new school record for total offense.

"We appreciate everything Jay has done to helping to build our program," Hudspeth said. "I also understand that this is a great opportunity for Jay and his family. And you what, sometimes change is good. It can bring a new energy, so we’re going to go forward from here."

While UL’s offensive numbers this past season may have been subpar by recent standards, in no way did that diminish the mark Johnson left on the Cajuns’ program, says Hudspeth.

"Some people just look at the last game or the last season," he said. "Coaches don’t really look at it that way. Coaches look at the entire thing, the long haul. That’s what their coach was looking at and that’s what I would be looking at."

Athletic Network Footnote by Ed Dugas from Sports Information at UL:
LAFAYETTE   Jay Johnson, who served for five seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Louisiana Ragin  Cajuns football team, resigned his position after agreeing to accept a similar position at the University of Minnesota, head coach Mark Hudspeth announced on Tuesday.

Johnson, a Lakeville, Minn., native, helped direct an offensive unit that set numerous school records during his tenure at Louisiana. During his stint in Lafayette, Johnson was responsible for the development of quarterback Terrance Broadway   a two-time R?L Carriers New Orleans Bowl MVP and school-record holder in total offense (9,240 yards).

 We appreciate everything that Jay has done for our program during the last five years,  Hudspeth said.  He has been an integral part of our program s success that has produced four bowl championships, three bowl MVPs and a Sun Belt Conference championship.

 We ve had a great run together and we wish Jay, (his wife) Lori and (son) Cole all the best in the future.

In five seasons under Johnson s tutelage, the Cajuns have posted some of the top offensive performances in school history, including school records for total offense (5,914) and points (461) in 2012. Behind a stellar performance from running backs Alonzo Harris and Elijah McGuire, Louisiana finished 22nd nationally in rushing offense in 2014, averaging 225.9 yards per game during the 2014 season.

The Ragin’ Cajuns were also efficient in the red zone during the 2014 season, converting at a 91.2 percent clip and finishing 10th nationally among FBS teams.

Under Johnson s guidance in 2013, the Cajuns set school-records for total first downs (283) and total plays from scrimmage (883). The Cajuns produced four first-team All-Conference selections, paced by the running back tandem of Harris and McGuire.
Broadway led all league starting quarterbacks in passing efficiency while completing 62 percent of his passes for 2,419 yards and 19 touchdowns.

In 2011, Blaine Gautier emerged as one of the top offensive threats in the south, throwing for a school record 2,958 yards and 23 touchdowns. In 2012, Broadway replaced Gautier and set a new school record for total offense (3,611).


Matt Sullivan,

Sports Information Director | Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns | University of Louisiana at Lafayette | Cox Athletics Center | 201 Reinhardt Drive | Lafayette, LA 70506-4297