When Jay Johnson takes over as offensive coordinator for the Gophers, their schemes won’t appear much different from what they ran in the Quick Lane Bowl, said a quarterback who spent three years starting for Johnson at Louisiana-Lafayette.
Terrance Broadway studied Monday’s game intently, knowing the man he calls “Coach Jay” will soon be returning home to run the Gophers offense.
“The quarterback [Mitch Leidner] looks like he’ll do well with it,” Broadway said. “The passing game — I think it’s similar, and the running game, too. I saw a lot of jet sweeps, things like that. It’s not going to be too hard of a transition for those guys.”
Louisiana-Lafayette announced Tuesday that Johnson was leaving after five seasons as the Ragin’ Cajuns offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the same role at Minnesota.
“He’s not just a really good recruiter, a really good play-caller and a really good developer of talent,” Louisiana-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth said in a telephone interview. “He’s a great mentor to the players. He sets an example. He’s a class act. And he brings just a ton of credibility to the job.”
The Gophers were waiting for the paperwork to clear before announcing the Johnson hiring, along with the hiring of Florida Atlantic offensive line coach Bart Miller.
Johnson, a 46-year-old Lakeville native, might run a familiar offense, but that’s not why coach Tracy Claeys is hiring him. Claeys wants to improve a team that ranked 105th nationally in scoring offense.
Broadway believes a big jump is possible, partly because he experienced one at Louisiana-Lafayette.
The Ragin’ Cajuns went 3-9 and ranked 92nd nationally in scoring offense in 2010, the year before Hudspeth arrived. One of Hudspeth’s first moves was hiring Johnson, who was Central Michigan’s quarterbacks coach after previous stops at Louisville, Southern Mississippi and Kansas.
In 2011, Louisiana-Lafayette went 9-4, with the nation’s 32nd-ranked scoring offense. Broadway redshirted that season after transferring in from Houston. The next year, the 6-2 Baton Rouge native took over at quarterback, and the Ragin’ Cajuns set school records for total offense and points in 2012.
“Coach Jay took pride in running the football, whether it was me or one of the talented backs he had,” Broadway said. “The pistol is our base formation, but we run some stuff out of the [shotgun]. Read option — he uses whatever he has at his disposal.”
Louisiana-Lafayette also went 9-4 in Broadway’s final two seasons. In 2014, the team ranked 22nd nationally in rushing offense. Two tailbacks combined for 2,071 rushing yards, and Broadway added 653 yards on the ground to go with 2,295 through the air.
“It’s a 50/50 offense,” Broadway said, referring to the run/pass balance. “We keep defenses guessing. But once Coach Jay gets going with a play call that’s working, he’ll keep running it.”
Broadway remembered a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State in 2014, when the Ragin’ Cajuns passed only 17 times. Johnson called 56 running plays, because his squad was churning out 7.5 yards per rush.
Broadway finished second on the school’s all-time passing list, and without him, Louisiana-Lafayette stumbled to 4-8 this year. He still keeps in close touch with Johnson.
“He’s the most loving and family oriented guy you may ever meet,” Broadway said. “I could talk to Coach Jay about anything. His wife [Lori] and son [Cole] — they’re like family to me. I have two kids, and I learned a lot about being a family man from him.”
Broadway posted a 2.5 grade-point average at Houston.
“I thought that was decent for a freshman,” he said. “But Coach Jay was always pushing us. He didn’t tolerate too many C’s. I graduated with a 3.1, and that was mainly because of him.”