One of the biggest reasons for Montana’s resurgence after a rare losing season last year is the return of junior quarterback Jordan Johnson.
And coming into today’s showdown with Cal Poly, both head coaches praised Johnson’s decision-making on the field.
“He’s so smart,” Mustangs head coach Tim Walsh said. “So, if he doesn’t like what he sees, he’s going to run, and he’s really good at what he does.”
Said Grizzlies head coach Mick Delaney: “He’s just a great decision-maker. He’s not going to force the ball where there’s not somewhere to put it in there.”
After a standout sophomore season that included a coming-out game in a 37-23 home victory over Cal Poly, Johnson was accused of raping a friend in her apartment. He was suspended from the team and missed all of the 2012 season.
In a he-said, she-said case that boiled down to reasonable doubt affecting jurors’ definition of consent, Johnson received a not-guilty verdict in March and was immediately reinstated.
Johnson has starred since his return. The Grizzlies lead the FCS with 16.2 yards per completion as a team, and Johnson ranks second in the country and the Big Sky Conference with a pass efficiency rating of 186.
His 16 touchdown passes are eighth in the FCS and third in the conference.
Perhaps most impressive has been Johnson’s success avoiding interceptions. He hasn’t thrown one all season, another mark that leads the nation.
In the 2011 game against Cal Poly, Johnson dominated in the second half behind a line that gave him plenty of time to throw.
A key for Cal Poly against Montana’s offense might be to get more pressure this time around, but don’t expect that to necessarily lead to turnovers.
“Northern Arizona, if you look at their game against them, they had five sacks on him,” said Cal Poly senior defensive tackle Sullivan Grosz, who leads the Mustangs with 31⁄2 sacks this season. “And he’s smart. A lot of quarterbacks, when you get pressure on them, might toss the ball up. For him, he likes his no-interception record. He might take a sack or he might get out of the pocket and try to run.”