February 10, 2014 1:36:03 PM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State announced the finalized football coaching staff Monday for the 2014 season.
As reported last week by The Dispatch, MSU head coach Dan Mullen hired former Utah quarterback and assistant coach Brian Johnson as the Bulldogs quarterbacks coach. Johnson was in Starkville last Thursday to interview with MSU head coach Dan Mullen and discuss his role to fill the vacancy on the coaching staff.
Johnson, who will turn 27 on Feb.16, has been identified as the leading candidate to fill the MSU coaching staff vacancy left when Les Koenning left Starkville to become the new wide receivers coach at Texas on Jan. 15.
Johnson served as the Utes offensive coordinator at his alma mater last season for a disappointing 5-7 season that saw his offense average 29.2 points per game, good for just ninth in the Pac-12 Conference. Subsequently, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham hired former Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen as its new offensive coordinator and reassigned Johnson back to just coaching the Utes' signal callers.
In his National Signing Day media conference, Mullen made no secret about how the offensive play calling happened during the 2013 season and will continue to operate in the future.
"I called all the plays for us last year. I spent a lot of time with the quarterbacks," Mullen said Wednesday. "The two quarterbacks who are coming in know that I was sort of the quarterback coach anyway. They didn't have to wait and see who it may be. Fortunately how that worked out it allowed us to take our time. Hopefully within the next week we'll have something in place."
Johnson was the starting quarterback for the Utes in a 31-17 upset win against Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl. Johnson led then No. 7 Utah with 336 passing yards and three passing touchdowns and was named the 2009 Sugar Bowl Most Outstanding Player.
MSU also announced the expected promotions of wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales and offensive line coach John Hevesy to co-offensive coordinators while still maintaining their position coach responsibilities. MSU running backs coach Greg Knox was also given the special teams coach tag for the 2014 season. For the first five years of Mullen's tenure at MSU, the Bulldogs head coach had never designated such a position and taken full responsibility for the entire staff having a hand in special teams.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
2. Community Calendar for the week of April 20, 2014 ENTERTAINMENT
3. Adele Elliott: Book tour COLUMNS