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Potential ‘Canes Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Johns

Johns could be a free agent in 2019 after Kingsbury’s firing

North Carolina v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Miami wasn’t going to bring in Kliff Kingsbury for a variety of reasons, and money was definitely one. With that out there, one person the ‘Canes could grab would be offensive coordinator and inside receivers coach Kevin Johns. Johns allegedly makes $380,000 at Texas Tech which would be a little steep for the Hurricanes. However, Johns did spend most of his career between Indiana and Northwestern which aren’t throwing around assistant pay quite like a Texas Power 5 program will.

Johns has coached both wide receivers and quarterbacks in his time and could replace Jon Richt or pick up a position like h-backs. Under Johns Texas Tech posted the 26th offense per the S&P+. The Red Raiders were only 53rd in points per play (Miami was 64th) but were 28th in the nation in points per game with 33.7 (Miami was 72nd this season with 26.7 points per game).

Johns came to Texas Tech after spending the 2017 season at Western Michigan. He was at Indiana helping Kevin Wilson call plays from 2011-2015 before the offensive side of that staff was pushed out. Sure at Indiana the Hoosiers had a couple of mediocre offensive seasons but they also finished 6th in S&P+ offense in 2013, 15th in 2015 and 44th in 2012. The ‘Canes are currently 68th per Bill C’s analytics system and obviously boast more talent than Indiana.

Johns is a former quarterback himself, having played his collegiate days as a starter at Dayton in Ohio. If Stacy Searels is staying that’s just fine, if he’s not, Johns could bring Clay McGuire with him. McGuire is also on the Texas Tech staff and spent some years coaching under Mike Leach at Washington State.


Texas Tech has used fullbacks and tight ends under Johns in 2018. With Johns coming on board the Red Raiders added more fullbacks and tight ends to their roster. At Indiana, the Johns and Kevin Wilson offense used tight ends, too.

In 2015, the Hoosiers put together a statistically dominant season on offense with Nate Sudfeld at quarterback. Sudfeld threw for 3,573 yards and 27 touchdowns with seven interceptions. In the backfield, the Hoosiers had two backs break 1,000 rushing yards while combining for 18 touchdowns on the ground. The receiving corps had a 1,000 yard receiver, a 900 yard receiver and a 600 yard receiver. Those three receivers combined for 15 touchdowns through the air.

Tunnel Screen

Indiana employed the middle tunnel screen against Ohio State in 2015. The receiver will work his way up field to get the defensive back to bail, then break back on the football. The right tackle and right guard will block the linebacker and any alley player that comes close to the receiver. This allows the receiver to work back up field.

With Miami’s speed (even with Jeff Thomas off site) the ‘Canes should be able to use plays like this to slow down the pass rush and work underneath it with a screen.

Inside Zone Read with an arc H-Back

I love using the h-back to arc block his way to the alley player. With teams using scrape exchange techniques (see below) it’s possible for the QB to see a pull read but then be hit in the mouth by the linebacker. With the H lead blocking for the QB a scrape exchange is nullified.

In the GIF you won’t see a scrape exchange. The defensive end sits to force a give and the QB would have had a lead blocker in the H-Back but doesn’t need one because it’s a give read. The back does a good job of breaking tackles and picking up more than he should have but it was an easy 4-5 yard gain for the Hoosiers.

How the H-Back Arc works

Now you can see how the H-Back arc block works in live action. The QB gets slow played by the defensive end so he pulls even though his numbers don’t disappear. The QB would’ve been en easy kill shot for the linebacker-safety type but with the H blocking outside he can escape the big hit and run for a touchdown.

Texas Tech passing game

I know it’s a Mark D’Onofrio defense but the Red Raiders pick apart Houston here. It’s a great video to see the concepts and how the spacing of the Air Raid works. Also, I love seeing empty sets at -10 (with their back to the goalpost) and at +10 (inside the red zone ready to score). It’s proof of Mike Leach’s feelings that the “standard” ideas of what coaches should do are often stubborn and obsolete.

During the 2018 season, Mark Richt would line up in a heavy personnel group and try to pound out 1-2 yards when in the -10 field zone. Kingsbury and Johns line up in empty and force the defense to choose between bringing pressure or sitting back and letting intelligent and accurate passers pick you apart- we all know what D’Onofrio would choose.


Johns and Wilson made for a more dynamic and balanced offense at Indiana than Johns and Kingsbury made at Texas Tech. However, Johns was much more ingrained in the creation of the scheme the Hoosiers ran rather than coming into the Texas Tech Air Raid and trying to install much with Kingsbury at the wheel.

The Johns-Wilson offense fits the talent the Hurricanes bring in. Miami has multiple athletic running backs, the ability to spread the football (if they catch it) and good but not great quarterback play. The difference is Miami has the defensive unit to make plays if the offense can score and keep the defense off the field.