Mel Tucker has made his first coaching hire for the Colorado Buffaloes. After retaining Coach Chiaverini and Coach Hagan, two pretty obvious picks given their connection to the program and recruiting, Tucker brought in his first outside face in Jay Johnson.
Tucker knowns Johnson from their time together last year on the Georgia staff, where Jay was an offensive analyst. Prior to that, he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Minnesota for just one year in 2016. Stretching further back, he spent five years running a record-setting offense at University of Louisiana – Lafayette and worked at Kansas for three years as a QB coach, among other jobs. The reason that his Minnesota stay was so short was due to the player revolt under Tracy Claeys that ended with his entire coaching staff being let go, including Johnson.
Jay Johnson is a very nice fit for this coaching staff. Coach Chiaverini is a young recruiter at WR, Hagan is a RB coach by trade that generally operates as “CU legend”, so an experienced play-caller and offensive mind was a must. Johnson runs a run-heavy offense that involved a lot of play-action and pistol formation, which is music to my ears. He was pretty wide open at ULL, but even at Lafayette, it was a run heavy offense. Personally, all I needed to hear was “pistol” and I was smitten. The pistol offense is a legendary football offense and gives the Buffs plenty of ways to attack a defense. The visions of physical football and thoroughbreds like Chris Brown and Bobby Purify dance in my head when I think of a hire like Johnson.
As a recruiter, he appears to be solid, but not spectacular. He obviously has deep Louisiana connections, re-iterating that Tucker wants to make that state a focus going forward. He is from the Midwest and has coached there for much of his career, so he may have deep connections there as well. He is not being hired for his recruiting, he is being hired for his near-decade of calling plays, mostly with success. Advanced stats do not like his ball-control offense, so his resume doesn’t look great when you look at S+P or other efficiency metrics. Consistently, through the eye test, simple stats, and advanced stats, he has shown an ability to finish drives at an elite level. Once he gets inside the opponent’s 40-yard line, the drives almost always end in points, which is refreshing after the year that Buff fans just endured.