New Orleans » Alabama coach Nick Saban thinks highly enough of Andy Ludwig to have ranked him high on his list last winter when he was seeking an offensive coordinator.
Ludwig respects Saban so much that he wanted to limit his influence in Friday's Sugar Bowl.
In his last game for Utah before assuming a similar position at Kansas State, Ludwig opened the Utes' 31-17 victory with a fast-tempo, no-huddle approach that he described as an effort to "take the coaches out of the game."
It worked. Quarterback Brian Johnson completed all five of his passes as the Utes zipped down the field during a 68-yard touchdown drive. They added touchdowns on their next two possessions to build a 21-0 lead less than 11 minutes into the game, and they never trailed.
"We caught them off guard, and Brian Johnson was awesome," Ludwig said. "He thrives in that element."
Ludwig accepted Kansas State's offer three weeks ago, but stayed with the Utes full-time through the bowl game. "There's too much invested with these players, so it wasn't difficult at all," he said.
A big part of Ludwig's legacy will be his offense's performance in bowl games. The Utes won all four postseason contests in his four-year stay while scoring at least 25 points.
Utah's 349-yard effort Friday came against the country's No. 3-ranked defense. The Utes succeeded much the way they did in the regular-season finale six weeks ago against Brigham Young, by repeatedly completing short passes. Johnson went 27-for-41 for 336 yards and three touchdowns.
Afterward, having come down from the press box, the first person Ludwig could find to hug was defensive coordinator Gary Andersen, who's also leaving. Andersen is Utah State's new head coach, and his parting gift was Utah's eight-sack showing.