Football trivia: Paul Johnson vs. Jim Tressel

Paul Johnson once faced Jim Tressel in a national championship game. What were the teams and what was the result? Find out after the jump.

Johnson and Tressel coached against each other in the 1999 NCAA Div-I championship. Tressel coached Youngstown State, while Johnson coached Georgia Southern. The result?

Johnson, and Georgia Southern, beat Youngstown State 59-24. It was Tressel’s final game as coach of YSU. Adrian Peterson (the other one), ran for 247 yards on three touchdowns.

In that game, Youngstown State tried to defend Johnson’s flexbone by relying on his secondary to rotate over to defend the quarterback and pitch in the triple-option. This sort of thing seems appealing and strategically sound, but is very difficult; much of GSU’s yardage came on the pitch.

  • Dave

    I would have thrown the Adrian Peterson part in there just for the fun of it.

  • Tipwell

    Chris, there is a highlight video out there of this over on

  • Dragonbuck

    It was not Tressel’s final game at YSU – the 2000 season was his kast there.

  • Kevin

    So let’s talk about defending the option…how the rotating secondary failed. I assume cover 3 then. What about cover 2 putting Corner on pitch and in flats if pass. DE takes QB. I know Johnson figures this out and will surely bring a blocker at your pitch man and blow that up. Other ideas…input on better defense?

  • Dennis Metzger

    From a 4-3 front if you put DE on Qb and Cb in Cover 2 on Pitch, the Fb will be running wild.

  • Jon

    I knew that before I clicked on the comment section. I knew that Tressel used to coach at YSU before taking OSU coaching job. YSU was one of the national powerhouse at the time. It couldn’t be in D1A because there’s no Paul Johnson in both games. The only logical is D1AA and I remembered Georgia Southern when they run the flexbone offense which Paul Johnson likes to run.

  • Tom

    This was one of YSU’s worst playoff teams in a long time. They did not have a very athletic defense which led to the busted tackles that made up much of the game. It didn’t help that GSU had a Manimal in Petersen running all over the place. In person, it honestly looked like an NFL player running against high school kids.

    To defend the option with coverage rotations, you need an incredibly athletic secondary with physical, run support corners. YSU lacked this. I’m not so sure it wasn’t just a better, more athletic team running all over a less athletic defense. I don’t really believe YSU could have done anything that wouldn’t have resulted in a loss when you factor in the personnel differences.

  • Rob

    If you watch the video of “the run” from that game, AP literally throws the 5th YSU defender who attempts to tackle him to the ground before continuing on.

  • David

    @Kevin: The WR blocks the CB.

  • JP

    Would love to see Chris break down how LSU was able to destroy Paul Johnson’s offense.

  • elwood

    JP: Actually, they didn’t. LSU outgained GT by less than 10 yards. Three turnovers on special teams lost the game.

  • John

    Richmond, not Ga. Southern, handed Tressel his final loss at Youngstown.

  • Rob

    A quick look at the drives shows what happened in the LSU-GT game, GT kicked off.

    LSU 7 plays, 60 yards, TD score 7-0
    GT 4-37 Punt
    LSU 3-4 Punt
    GT 13-60, FG 7-3
    —at this point, the 1st Q is almost over and GT is outyarding LSU, but LSU got the ball in the endzone, still a game, its about to end soon though—
    LSU 8-76, TD 14-3
    LSU recovers onside kick
    LSU 3-(-1), Punt
    LSU recovers fumbled punt
    LSU 6-19, TD 21-3
    GT 4-4 turnover on faked punt
    LSU 2-24, TD 28-3

    LSU had 3 possessions in a row due to special teams gaffes. Then a fake punt down 18 pts to try to get something going and to keep the D off the field. Instead, LSU got yet another short field and punched it in. Game over. Anything after that point didnt matter.

    The 2nd quarter was a special teams disaster for GT.

  • stan


    I like the 3-3 (5-3) front to play the flexbone. First used it against the flexbone in 1990 and held a team averaging 40 to only 7. It gives you a variety of different ways to put different players on each option. You can move your front, change up your LBs and safeties, and give the QB different reads each time he comes down the line. But regardless of who does it, make sure someone is hitting the QB in the mouth every time he options.

  • Rob

    stan – I always hear the “hit the QB” strategy, but from watching Tech games last year, I dont think that works. On about 50% of pitches and 90% of dives, that would be an extra 15 yards on the end of the run.

  • TomReagan

    I’m a Southern fan, and while Peterson was the most dominant college player I’ve ever seen, Johnson’s offense really hums when it has a great quarterback.

    He had Tracy Ham lead Southern to 2 titles when he was the offensive coordinator in the 80s and Greg Hill during the Peterson era.

    When he gets a quarterback at Tech who understands his offense as well as they did, they may put up vintage Nebraska-type numbers.

  • Bornahorn

    I don’t understand all of the numances, but in the days of the wishbone and veer, when the QB was probably closer to the line of scrimmage, using a 4-3, the end hit the QB every play and the LB and safety played the blocker and pitchman. The tough part was play action to the tight end – Nebraska was outstanding at this in the Big 8.

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