Life of Brian: Not looking ahead

By By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

If Mountain West Conference coaches learned anything from the Utah-Wyoming game last week, it was this: Don’t make a guarantee when facing the Utes. Not to your team. Not to your booster club. Not even to a rock.

After the players and coaches had some time to divorce themselves from the controversy surrounding the game, The Daily Utah Chronicle caught up with quarterback Brian Johnson to discuss what happened and how the Utes are preparing for New Mexico.

The Chronicle: So?the infamous guarantee. What do things like that do for an opposing team?

Johnson: The guarantee. I think different people react to it differently. Obviously, some of our guys took it personally and kind of saw it as disrespect. Me, personally? I just want to go out and play the game. I try not to pay attention to any of that.

The Chronicle: So, what would you say if I told you that New Mexico head coach Rocky Long guaranteed that the Lobos were going to win on Saturday?

Johnson: (Laughing) I would probably say that wouldn’t be wise, considering what happened last time somebody made a guarantee. Like I said, some people like that kind of stuff, and some people take it personally.

The Chronicle: Looking at the Wyoming game as a whole, is there anything you guys could have done better as an offense?

Johnson: Without question. We got it down in the red zone three times and had to settle on a field goal, you know, and we turned the ball over when we got down there another time at the end of the half. I wouldn’t say we played poorly on offense, but there’s plenty room for improvement.

The Chronicle: A lot of people in the media are kind of giving Utah a “black hat,” so to speak, after the Wyoming game. I just kind of wanted to get your reaction to that and your assessment on what happened.

Johnson: I think (Utah head) coach (Kyle Whittingham) said it all. If we had to do it over again, there probably wouldn’t be an onside kick. But he made the call, and we did it and didn’t get it. We’ve just got to move forward now.

The Chronicle: Turning to New Mexico, I know the history between the two teams and how they’ve kind of had Utah’s number for the past decade or so, but how do you guys not look past them a little bit knowing what happens next weekend?

Johnson: It’s easy not to look ahead when you look at the past and especially what happened the last two years. I mean, if that’s not motivation enough, then you’re playing the wrong game. We’ve just got to realize we’re playing a very talented team.

The Chronicle: Does this game have any emotional carryover considering the last time you played them was your last before the knee injury?

Johnson: Not much. I thought it would a lot more than it does, but it was two years ago, so it’s kind of a non-factor now. That was just a part of the game, too. It’s not like they intentionally hurt me. I got hurt playing football.

The Chronicle: Can you talk a little bit about that New Mexico defense? I mean, it’s not something you see every day.

Johnson: It really isn’t. The key to playing well against these guys is just film preparation and film studies throughout the week. It looks a little foreign at the start, but after seeing it for a couple days, you kind of start to see a method to the madness.

The Chronicle: Does it do anything in particular scheme-wise to the run or pass game?

Johnson: Schematically, they can cause a lot of problems. They like to bring more than you can block, and, as an offense, you know that they can always bring one more player than you can block. They always find a way to get that guy through and put pressure on the quarterback.

The Chronicle: Does that kind of fall on you to point out who’s coming or on (center) Kyle (Gunther)?

Johnson: Me and Kyle. We have to identify the rush and know who’s blocking who, so we can get the best possible outcome from the play.

The Chronicle: Are there any particular players that stick out to you on New Mexico’s defense?

Johnson: No. 41 had a great game against us two years ago when I was playing. They have some pretty good cornerbacks — DeAndre (Wright) is a good player. They just do a nice job making plays all the way around.

The Chronicle: What’s it going to take for Utah to run the rest of the table, winning the next two weeks and maybe getting a share of the MWC title?

Johnson: We’ve got to play with consistency. We’ve just got to come out week-in and week-out and play with that same passion and energy level that we’ve been playing with the last couple weeks and execute on the field.

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Jarad Reddekopp