Offensive coordinator on the defense

By By Mandeep Gill and By Mandeep Gill

By Mandeep Gill

What does it feel like to be in the hot seat? Ask U offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig — he can tell you.

Although the Utes have suffered an uncanny amount of injuries, many fans and media entities are pointing fingers at the Utes’ anemic offense. Most of those fingers are pointed directly at Ludwig.

With his play calling being dissected and his offense under a microscope, the embattled coach is not shying away from the criticism.

“It’s a very challenging position,” Ludwig said. “I have a lot of confidence in what I am trying to get done. There is nobody that questions my work ethic and my dedication to this football team, our players and our success. There is no question we got to improve. There is no question I have got to improve.”

Senior quarterback Tommy Grady, who made his first collegiate start in Ludwig’s offensive system Saturday, has faith in what his play-caller brings to the table.

“He is all about football,” Grady said of Ludwig. “He is a great coach; he knows the game inside and out.”

The senior signal caller was not the only player to come to Ludwig’s defense.

“What hurts me the most is we have a wonderful coaching staff and there is a lot of bad talk about my coaches,” said tailback Darryl Poston.

Fans have been the most vocal when it comes to taking shots at the veteran offensive coach.

“They cheer loud and they criticize loud; you want to work at a place like that, if nobody cared it would not be a good job,” Ludwig said.

Still, most of the backlash that has come from the Utes’ 0-2 start has stemmed from something Ludwig directly controls. Air Force’s late-game goal-line stand last Saturday has made many Utah followers question Ludwig’s ability to call effective plays. Furthermore, the Utes have yet to eclipse the 100-yard mark on the ground-and that’s for the entire season. The Utes have managed to average 254 yards in two games, but have only 19 total points to show for those efforts. As some of the U players said, the responsibility for the team’s deficiencies lies primarily with them.

“He calls good plays, we just have to execute them,” Grady said. “They’re always going to blame the coaches, but it’s the players that need to execute the plays.”

Poston echoed those same sentiments and he puts all the blame on the Utes’ inability to get into the end zone from the one-yard line against Air Force squarely upon himself.

“The plays that we ran, my play and Eddie Wide’s play, there were huge holes there, they were great plays but we did not execute, unfortunately, it made the coaches look bad,” Poston said.

Since arriving in Salt Lake City, Ludwig has seen a lot of ups and downs. Despite the down times, such as the first two games of this season and the Utes’ blowout loss to Boise State and Wyoming last year, the Ludwig era has been highlighted by some big wins and some impressive stats as well.

In Ludwig’s first year as offensive coordinator at Utah in 2005, Ludwig helped the Utes’ average increase to 473 yards per game in total offense. His offense capped that season off with impressive performances against bitter rival BYU and ACC power Georgia Tech.

“Beating the team down south in 2005 with a brand new quarterback was as big a win as I have been associated with,” Ludwig said.

Sometimes, those wins can be overshadowed by the here and now. Right now the Utes are losing and there isn’t enough scoring being done to win. Ludwig understands that and the nature of college coaching as well as anyone.

“The one thing you appreciate about the University of Utah is people care about the football team and they care about winning,” Ludwig said.

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Liz Rohde

Andy Ludwig calls out plays during the Utes Practice Tuesday. Ludwig has received a lot of criticism from Utes fans after the first two games.