The Life of Brian: Brian’s bye week

Ute quarterback Brian Johnson took off from the west side of the McCarthy Practice Field Tuesday, sailing at full speed, crossing the line, turning back around and taking off in the opposite direction.

This was for Utah’s team sprints, which take place at the end of most practices for the U football team. The first-year starter beat all of his teammates in the 100-yard sprint, easily outracing some of his more hobbled colleagues. He looked fast and motivated, but most important, he looked healthy.

“I get some bumps and bruises every once in a while, but for the most part, I’ve stayed pretty healthy,” Johnson said.

While Johnson is undoubtedly one of the team’s faster and most athletic players, the truth is that he also remains remarkably unscathed despite all the punishment he has taken during this season, his first at the helm.

In addition to withstanding 16 sacks, the sophomore has been the focal point of both the running and passing games, forcing him to take more than his fair share of hits on a weekly basis.

“I just have that feeling when I get out of bed Sunday morning, after getting beaten up in the game,” Johnson said. “But by Monday and Tuesday, I feel better.”

However, through seven games and 2,602 yards of total offense, Johnson has managed to stay off the injured list, while several of his offensive teammates have been relegated to the sidelines in recent weeks.

Johnson’s status should remain unchanged during the team’s bye week. Instead of taking hits this Saturday, Johnson gets a three-day weekend and a brief reprieve from the typical weekend grind.

Johnson hasn’t missed any time due to injuries so far this year; in fact, the only offensive snaps he has missed came in the final minutes of the team’s 31-7 win over Utah State, as backup Brett Ratliff came in for late mop-up duty and on rare occasions when Quinton Ganther has lined up as QB for a direct snap.

With that durability have come some flashy numbers for the 18-year-old quarterback. Johnson’s rise up the nation’s total offense charts has been well documented, as he now sits at No. 6 in the nation, averaging 325.3 total yards per game, just four yards behind Oregon’s Kellen Clemens.

However, with just four wins as a starter under his belt thus far, it may be difficult for some to validate his impressive statistical season with the disappointing showing of the Utes as a whole.

With the team sitting at 4-4, Johnson’s chances at an all-conference spot are at 50-50. But, Johnson said, nationally ranked stats and conference honors are not exactly at the front of his mind.

“It really doesn’t matter. We don’t really look at the numbers anyway,” Johnson said. “I’m just trying to get wins, get these last three and send these seniors out right. That’s my main focus right now.”

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