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Utah playmakers: Offense — Mr. Clutch

Utah's Brian Johnson became Utah's all-time winningest quarterback during the 2008 season.
Utah's Brian Johnson became Utah's all-time winningest quarterback during the 2008 season.
Tom Smart, Deseret News

Utah's offense surely did its part in helping the Utes achieve perfection and win the second BCS bowl in school history during the 2008 season.

The Utes' production on offense obviously started with quarterback Brian Johnson, who engineered three game-winning touchdown drives in wins over Air Force, Oregon State and TCU. He also became the school's all-time winningest quarterback, finishing his career with a 26-7 record.

Johnson was brilliant in the Utes' 48-24 drubbing of BYU to clinch the Mountain West Conference championship. He completed 30-of-36 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns. He was equally effective in Utah's 31-17 win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, as he completed 27-of-41 passes for 336 yards and three scores.

But Johnson didn't do everything by himself during Utah's second BCS-busting season. Outside of Johnson's play at quarterback, the Utes featured a balanced attack with several playmakers.

Running backs Matt Asiata and Darrell Mack shared the rushing load for the Utes. Asiata led the team with 707 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Mack rushed for 541 yards and three scores. Asiata was also effective lining up in the shotgun formation at quarterback. He scored some rushing touchdowns out of what was termed the "Asiata Formation" and also threw two touchdown passes.

Freddie Brown was Johnson's most reliable target during the season, and he capped his senior year with an outstanding performance in the Sugar Bowl. Brown hauled in 12 receptions for 125 yards against the Crimson Tide while withstanding some hard hits from the Alabama secondary. Brown finished the season with 77 catches for 900 yards and seven touchdowns.

Receivers Bradon Godfrey (56 receptions, 556 yards, four TDs), Brent Casteel (43 receptions, 564 yards, four TDs), Jereme Brooks (30 receptions, 331 yards, one TD) and speedster David Reed (25 receptions, 427 yards, six TDs) also contributed steady play throughout the season.

Two players who may have been overlooked at times during the season but made key contributions were backup quarterback Corbin Louks and tight end Colt Sampson. Louks was the team's third leading rusher and averaged 8.1 yards per carry. He ran for a total of 218 yards and scored three touchdowns.

Sampson only had 11 receptions during the season, but he made them count. Five of his catches went for touchdowns.


E-mail: aaragon@desnews.com