Cal fans don't have a lot of familiarity with their offensive coordinators. They come and go like bees, pollenating the flower that is the Golden Bear playbook with their own flavor of honey before moving onto other flora.
Thus we felt it necessary to look deep into the past concerning the new guy at the helm, Andy Ludwig. This isn't just because we're uncertain of what we're getting this season. It's because we're uncertain of whether we'll see him past next season.
We looked at not one, but two of his previous stints in a two part series. It's Utah today, Oregon Thursday.
We talked with the Utes SBN Blog, Block U, and their leader, JazzyUte, about Ludwig's strengths and weaknesses. Our questions are in bold, their answers are beneath.
1) When Ludwig left Utah, a lot of Utes fans didn't seem too bummed at his departure. Any reason for this?
Block U: Poor Andy Ludwig had to follow the Urban Meyer show and that obviously was not going to be easy. Of course, he didn't help matters by essentially saying he was going to bring in his own offense, even though the spread option had been extremely successful over Meyer's short two-year stint at Utah.
2) Utah was blessed with the offensive-minded Urban Meyer leading them to their first BCS bowl. What were the differences in the ways Meyer and Ludwig approached the offense and utilized the pieces they had? Was Ludwig always competing with Meyer's shadow?
Block U: As I mentioned, Ludwig certainly was consumed by Meyer's shadow because he had taken Utah football to new heights. 22-2 in two years, including the first undefeated season in the program's modern history was hard to follow and there were growing pains.
3) That Sugar Bowl performance...was that typical Ludwig, or were you surprised by how quickly they jumped out on Bama?
Block U: Not really. The Utes were not known for running the no-huddle offense under Ludwig, unless they were forced into their two-minute offense. But I will say what you saw was probably more like what Ludwig had been familiar with prior to arriving at Utah because there was almost zero spread option in any of the first three touchdowns against Alabama. That was purely an up-tempo passing offense that exploited a weakness that had hurt the Tide all season long - their inability to really step up and defend against the no-huddle.
4) How would you best characterize Andy's style of offense? What type of plays was he fond of running?
Block U: Ludwig was never fond of running the spread option here at Utah. We knew that from the start. That's fine, because some coaches just have a difficult time adjusting. This was ultimately Whittingham's fault for bringing him in knowing the fans wanted to keep the spread option. It didn't happen and though there were parts of it that remained in the offense, we were generally given an offense that worked with a mix of shotgun and lining Johnson up under center.
5) How good was Ludwig at developing his quarterbacks?
Block U: Well it's hard to say. Ludwig has pretty much only coached two quarterbacks here at Utah - Brian Johnson and Brett Ratliff. Johnson has turned out to be a good quarterback, but how much of that development was because of Ludwig I do not know. I liked Ratliff, but he didn't have any type of supporting cast in the backfield and it hindered the Utes greatly.