Sunday, the staff of Syracuse football got a little bigger after Matt Johnson was hired in an “offensive quality control position” Sunday. He announced the decision on Instagram.
Johnson was a quarterback under Dino Babers at Bowling Green. This wasn’t just a decision to come to SU for him, it was also a decision to stop playing. Johnson set a Bowling Green and MAC record with 4946 passing yards his senior year and 46 touchdowns. He spent minicamp with the Bengals in 2016 and then signed with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. This summer, the Tiger-Cats cut him and he decided to move on to coaching.
Johnson doesn’t have coaching experience. He is only two years out of college and has as much know-how as a college quarterback can have about teaching the game. His value to SU, though, could be monumental. He is the purest example of the Dino Babers system working. Before Babers arrived at Bowling Green, Johnson threw for 3467 yards his sophomore season. He broke his hip in the first game of Babers’ first season at BGSU, so he spent a year seeing all of his coach’s tactics from the headset side. When he returned senior year, he threw for 1500 more yards and 21 more touchdowns than as a sophomore.
The quarterbacks playing under Dino now face the same predicament. Eric Dungey spent a year playing under Scott Shafer before Babers arrived. He wasn’t able to get the full Dino immersion session before being thrown out onto the field. In a system faster than what most of the Orange roster has played in, it would have been nice to at least make sure the quarterback had it all down. Johnson can try to fill the gaps. He knows what it takes to learn this system in a year. Now, he’ll have the rest of the offseason to fill in the holes Dungey and the rest of the Orange QBs may have.
Is Matt Johnson the savior Syracuse football has needed? No. The defense still needs the most work and other positions on offense are probably more pressing. Johnson is someone who has been through the Dino Babers system and came out on the other side more successful because of it. Babers knows none of the other pieces will matter if the man under center isn’t ready for game day, and Johnson’s hire is part of making sure Dungey (or whoever is taking snaps for the Orange) is prepared.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson