The images of Robert Johnson, Koa Misi, Stevenson Sylvester and Utah's other defensive players float on the screen in Andy Ludwig's office, tucked inside the University of California's Memorial Stadium.
To most opposing offensive coordinators, they would be merely numbers, matched with scouting reports. Not to Ludwig. He knows these guys. And in advance of next week's Poinsettia Bowl, they are coming back into his life. "It's kind of fun, but it can be distracting, because I'm not just watching x's and o's," Ludwig was saying this week. "Every player's got a story, and I know most of those stories."
That's why the story of this bowl game, as much Kurt Kragthorpe as anything, is Andy Ludwig vs. the Utes. Mix in the longtime friendship between him and Ute coach Kyle Whittingham, the reunion with the offensive coaches he supervised for four seasons and the mixed views of his schemes in Salt Lake City, and we have the makings of an intriguing evening in San Diego.
"Fun for you, maybe," Ludwig clarified for a visitor, smiling. As for himself, Ludwig again must find ways to attack Whittingham's aggressive defense -- having lost to the Utes in previous existences with Fresno State and Oregon -- and figure out his own offense, the group that averages 29 points but never scores 29 points, exactly. "We either scored 50 or three," Ludwig said, barely exaggerating. "If I could explain it, I'd fix it."