Johns, Patton no longer on IU football staff

Offensive coordinator Kevin Johns and tight ends coach James Patton are no longer on Indiana’s football staff, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to The Herald-Times on Monday.

Their departures are the first wave of coaching staff changes since former coach Kevin Wilson’s abrupt resignation on Dec. 1. Both Johns and Patton have deep ties to Wilson.

Johns spent the past six seasons on IU’s staff, including the last three as offensive coordinator. From 1999 to 2001, he was an offensive graduate assistant at Northwestern, while Wilson was offensive coordinator.

Patton spent the past four seasons on Indiana’s staff overseeing tight ends. He also coached alongside Wilson at Miami of Ohio from 1990 to 1994 and during the 1998 season. They were also together at Northwestern from 1999 to 2001 and at Oklahoma from 2006 to 2010.

Last month, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported that Ole Miss wide receivers coach Grant Heard, a longtime connection of new coach Tom Allen, will accept a similar role at IU. Johns also coached IU’s receivers.

In 2015, IU became the fourth team in Football Bowl Subdivision history to boast a 3,500-yard passer (Nate Sudfeld), two 1,000-yard rushers (Jordan Howard and Devine Redding) and one 1,000-yard receiver (Simmie Cobbs) in the same season.

This past season, the Hoosiers were not nearly as prolific.

Junior college transfer Richard Lagow struggled to become the consistent quarterback Indiana needed, while the Hoosiers’ offensive line offered mostly uneven results. Injuries and youth across the offense provided additional hurdles, and the unit seldom seemed close to matching the standard set during previous seasons.

Indiana finished the regular season ranked No. 125 out of 128 FBS teams in finishing drives, scoring merely 3.54 points per trip inside the 40-yard line. The Hoosiers were also ranked No. 114 nationally in rushing success rate.

Since taking over as the head coach, Allen has discussed his desire to implement a “tempo-spread” offense that aims to establish the running game.

“I think our offense has done a good job in the past of throwing the football extremely well, but when you watch Indiana play on offense, they always ran the ball,” Allen said on Dec. 10. “That’s where I feel like we have to do a better job of finishing those runs this year, protecting the football and being great in the red zone.”

22 comments

  1. We had tight ends? Who knew?

    I think we’ll do fine with others in those positions. This will be interesting.

  2. This is unsurprising. This is not about the play calling, the red zone issues or Richard Lagow’s arm motion. Kevin Johns and Wilson were tight. He was his right hand guy. When Wilson was dismissed, at that moment, Johns fate was sealed, too.

    Allen, with his career focus on the other side of the ball, is going to need a Han Solo to his Luke Skywalker. Perhaps Grant Heard will be his bromantic other?

    Johns will be fine. He seems like a decent fellow and I wish him the best of everything as he finds a better home.

  3. No matter how the separation occurred we will now find out if Allen’s big boy pants are big enough for the B1G. Best of luck.

  4. It is now clear IU’s offense will show some change although not radical change. I hope the yearly trouble with 3rd down production and red zone problems get solved with the revision coming.

    I wish Johns and Patton good luck as they should land on their feet based on the reputations they made at IU.

    It will be interesting to see what the offense develops into. Clearly QB play has to change no matter which QB is starting. The OL is big and has talent so there is a great chance the OL will return to their excellent level of play. Whoever becomes OC will have talented WRs and RBs to develop the offense around. The next key will be a QB coach that has a good reputation of developing QBs.

  5. Chet, they were used as an additional blocker, as to your point we often didn’t have a TE just an extra T. Really IU hasn’t used the TE as a receiver for the past few years. IU has a couple of good receiving TEs coming in along with a couple already on the roster so I hope the new OC uses the TE as an integral part of the passing game. There are several changes that I would like to see with the offense while keeping the spread.

  6. Correct, multiple 1000 yard season rushers at IU happened because of good TE blocking. Greg Frey will miss both these coaches.

  7. How did that work out, teamwise?

    If we had no receivers at all that would add to the run blocking scheme, too.

    I can’t recall too many championship teams in recent history who did not use their tight ends in the passing game. They would certainly be in the minority.

    So, we have more than our share of thousand yard rushers and the team finishes with a losing record. Does that seem like an acceptable outcome to anyone?

    That’s like winning ‘best dressed offensive linemen’.

  8. Chet, it is clear now the offense will change and like you I see some needed changes that I hope get addressed. Because a TE is a good receiver and an integral part of the passing game doesn’t mean that they can’t block and contribute to the run game too. I don’t understand why some people think they are mutually exclusive when we can see many offenses that have TEs do both skills; in the B1G there is UM, PSU, WS that I can think of that have 1,000 rushers and TEs that are an important receiver.

    I hope the new spread offense solves the problems IU has had with 3rd and short along with red zone issues. These were shortcomings coach Wilson and Johns didn’t seem to be able to fix. IU has gotten into a holding pattern of middle of the road B1G team able to play the best tough; Coach Allen is making changes to try and break through so IU can win some of the tight games they have lost the past few years.

    It would be a great thing if Coach Frey and McCollough stay to keep their position groups strong. It would also be great if 2017 is a season IU avoids the injury bug.

  9. A bit off-topic, but did anyone see the classy gesture by the ESPN guys doing the Rose Bowl game….? They brought Keith Jackson up to their booth for about 10 minutes. He looked quite frail and so very up in years ….Kinda broke my heart.
    How many of us grew up with his voice and unique delivery as if it were married to our experiences in watching all sorts of great sporting events? From Olympics to Wide World of Sports…and eventually becoming THE voice of college football. Keith Jackson and Cosell were side-by-side giants in the industry of sports broadcasting when television was busting out of its rabbit ears…..Both so unique. Both so intelligent and a joy to listen to. It’s all about the athletes now….But for this old toad, it was very much about the voices and minds that made me fall in love with watching long before a 60″ screen could swallow me with imagery overload.

    I just wanted to thank him some how for his unique style and his unparallelled love for bringing sports into so many homes. This is the only place I really talk much sports these days…So that’s that, I guess.
    It was a tiny gesture of gratitude and recognition by ESPN during a highly watched bowl game….Suddenly, how that bowl game shrunk in stature…All the fans gathered in Pasadena mattered little for I knew I was likely listening to Jackson for the last time…..
    I’m sure a lot of younger viewers didn’t even know who the hell the old pale guy was. He was one of the best….That’s who the hell he was….is…and will always be.

    Go to the 1:08 mark.

  10. That’s the thing. The TE is the bunny you pull out of your hat on critical third downs and in the red zone. There’s a reason beastly TE’s are so effective. They’ve been blocking for the last nine plays. They become invisible.

    Wideouts rarely engage a blocker at the line of scrimmage. They sell the pass. TE’s sell the run then emerge in the passing game. I once coached a team that had an automatic checkoff to the TE if the D loaded the box. My QB once checked off on 3rd and inches in the conference championship with a five point lead and a great running back. It went 90 yards for a touchdown.

    That was a 10th grader at quarterback. To be fair, he would later quarterback MIT. No kidding. I may have had the brightest QB in the country. In math anyway.

    Neutering the TE in the passing game is killing your security blanket.

  11. PSU looked great in a loss. Played their hearts out. Michigan lost by a single point while playing without a guy who was likely the best football player in the country.

    IU and Mississippi State had the same record. The SEC team escaped Miami (Ohio) with a blocked field goal at the end (Really? Miami of Ohio?). IU was beaten by a team that had been in the top ten with two weeks left in the season by a game ending field goal.

    Which team performed better?

    Vanderbilt was crushed by a marginal NC State team.

    I don’t care about the win/loss numbers. By the matchups the Big Ten did okay. Really, no conference stood out. The ACC did okay. Does anyone think the ACC is king of football?

    Alabama is absolutely the team that has most impressed me this year so that, in itself, should doom them.

  12. Saban certainly unceremoniously showed Kiffin the door.

    Scott Van Pelt had a great line about Kiffin, ” He rarely sticks the dismount when he leaves a job.”

    That was classic.

  13. Grant Heard is a good hire for Allen and IU. I suspect he’ll be the OC as well as WR coach since he would have learned so much about offense from former Ole Miss OC Dan Werner. Unless Werner(of ex-Hurricane past fame)himself comes to IU then he would be OC and QB coach which which would be like a triple in BB terms for IU. Who covers TE’s? Heard? Lots to be decided.

    W/O using the TE in the passing game much, other than blocking, in ’16’, IU was still the 28th best passing offense in the nation. That is not bad for co-mingling with a mediocre rushing attack. if Fuchs had not been injured the TE position would have been more involved in the passing offense as he was the TE with “hands”. But it did not turn out like that; much like the rush offense suffered with injuries to Feeney and Camiel and replacing a damn strong center Jake Reed from graduation.

    I am still amazed 6-6 IU ended up with a top 20, 8-4 Utah. But would add it did nothing but shine IUFB’s brand.

  14. If you want a treat watch a large, overwhelming HS FB recruit on film; go to HUDL and watch the film of recent IU commit big man Juan Harris. Of course he plays both sides of the ball but the essence is he can move and of course move people. Word has it he benches 400 and squats 700. Somewhere before or after his Junior year he weighed 410 and then lost 40 lbs. to increase speed. He’ll hit Bloomington in a few days for classes and will be available for Spring camp. He is recruited as a DL but you can easily envision him on the OL too. Enjoy.

  15. Grant Heard and Dan Werner might be good or great Offensive cord, but with all the 4* and 5* recruits that Ole Miss had, Ole Miss only had a 5-7 conference record…lost to Vandy and Miss St at the end of the year…i just have not seen where Ole Miss with all the talent they have be this offensive juggernaut..or make any difference (lately) in the SEC….also does anyone know if Ole Miss is still getting investigated by the NCAA for recruiting violation???

  16. Mike Debord leaving Tennessee as offensive coordinator for same position at IU. Just on noon news down here in Knoxville! He was Butch Jones mentor and has been here 2 or 3 years. Fans were not sold on him, but UT did win 9 games this year.

  17. HC, Harris looked so dominate at OL I could see a battle in the coaching staff over whether he should play OL or DT; right now he is going to play DT but could play either. His HUDL tape shows he is active and very physical, a real pickup for IU.

    H4H it was nice of ESPN to have Kieth Jackson in the booth but it was tough to see him looking so frail and not having that powerful voice he was known for. I hope Keith had a really good time back in the booth with it bringing back good memories for him.

  18. Johns’ departure may have more to do with what Allen views as an opportunity to improve recruiting as much as or more than it had to do with offensive philosophy. At the wide receiver position, I think 2016 was an off year for IU. Our best receiver was a 5’7″ former walk-on who was a fifth year senior. Of course, we lost the services of a good one on the first play of the season, but I believe there is opportunity to improve the depth and overall level of talent at wide receiver. And that goes for the tight end and running back position too. It’s really a matter of depth. While IU’s starting skill players have been pretty good over the last few years, I’ve thought for some time that when/if the starters went down, there was a significant drop off in skill and productivity. Tight end is a good example. If Fuchs was the only TE with hands, when he went down, it all but eliminated using TE’s in the passing game. And that hobbled IU’s offense, especially in the red zone and on third downs.

    I believe Allen, from him time down south, appreciates that the biggest part of winning in college football is not as much about “developing” and “coaching” average (i.e., 3-star) players, but about recruiting a greater number of more talented (i.e., 4 and 5-star) players. And I think he’s bringing in coaches from teams and a conference (the SEC) who have the connections and experience that will allow IU to sign a greater number of better players. Of course, these new coaches will know their “X’s and O’s,” but more importantly, they will be able to attract a greater number of more talented players to Bloomington.

  19. v13- It was sort of tough…I guess that’s why I said it was a bit heartbreaking.

    Musburger, Cosell, Jackson, McKay….Where are the heavyweight broadcasters of today? Where are the brilliant and colorful commentators who can cover an array of sports with unmatched preparation and passion? Now they just throw a rich ex-NBA…or ex-NFL “expert” into a booth with more narcissistic tone than anything else.
    The aforementioned giants of broadcasting were lovers of language…They were the romantics of sports broadcasting with voices and delivery of varied pitch and cadence that played like a symphony to the art and motion of the athlete. I forever feel grateful to have heard the symphony to the punches of Ali, the slaloming of Jean-Claude Killy, and the touch down bombs thrown by Joe Willy….

    We have our teams …We have our shining star athletes who believe they built it all on their own…But fading away is the symphony.
    These men were different because their hearts were melted in a longing to be the athlete they were covering. They never looked at a game through a 2-way mirror of their own experiences….They covered sports as the stranger in love with the mystery of godlike abilities. It was their goal to somehow approach a typewriter or a microphone to give such beauty justice. Today there are plenty of loud decibels…but there is little of humbleness from the eye or an artful tone born of distance from something you introspectively relinquish to ever be compared.

  20. Some guys, particularly along the line, can be ‘developed’ by coaching and ‘strength and conditioning’ but you can’t teach someone to be quick, fast, or tall.

    That’s all about recruiting.

    I remember seeing young men in the region being recruited by the top schools even though they were, IMHO, awfully light for college ball and weren’t necessarily the most dominant at their position right now. They were tall and long, though. When I’d see these guys a couple years later they were beasts. They had added incredible amounts of muscle.

    It’s not always about the guy who is the best at his position right at this moment.

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