The wait is finally over, UCLA fans.
There is a new offensive coordinator in Westwood.
6 weeks after Kennedy Polamalu was relieved of his duties, Jim Mora tapped Michigan passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch as his new offensive coordinator.
Fisch will be the third offensive playcaller in three seasons for Mora and Josh Rosen.
As first reported by Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman, the hire is not yet official, though it will be made so as early as this afternoon. His contract is still subject to review by the Regents of the University of California.
Despite being just 40 years old, Fisch has experience both as a position coach and play caller in college and the NFL. He spent the last two seasons in Ann Arbor as the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator under Jim Harbaugh, where he split play-calling duties with running game coordinator and offensive coordinator Tim Drevno.
A Long Resume at Both Levels
Fisch has earned plaudits for his work with Michigan’s quarterbacks the last two seasons. In 2015, Jake Rudock became only the second quarterback in school history to pass for more than 3000 yards after heading to Ann Arbor as a graduate transfer from Iowa. This season, Wilton Speight finished 3rd in the Big Ten in passer rating as a first-year starter.
He also oversaw productive pass catchers in Ann Arbor over the last two seasons, including receivers Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh and tight end Jake Butt.
Before Michigan, he was the offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013 and 2014, and he also has stops in Seattle as the Seahawks’ quarterbacks coach under Pete Carroll in 2010 and as a wide receivers coach for the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos under his belt in the NFL.
Fisch’s offenses in Jacksonville struggled, as he was tasked with developing rookie quarterback Blake Bortles and revamping an offense that was loaded with young talent, including receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. He was fired in 2014 after “philosophical differences” with head coach Gus Bradley, but was soon hired by Harbuagh at Michigan despite Harbaugh never meeting him previously.
Fisch last called plays at the college level at Miami (FL) in 2011 and 2012 under Al Golden. His offenses were ranked in the top 50 in yards per play for both years, including a high finish of 16th (6.4 yards per play) in 2012.
In both years, the Hurricanes’ quarterback set a school record - Stephen Morris completed 65% of his passes in 2011, and Jacory Harris passed for 3345 yards in the 2012 season.
Two of Miami’s starting wide receivers (Allen Hurns and Philip Dorsett), starting running back (Duke Johnson) and tight end (Clive Walford) from the 2012 season are all now contributors in the NFL.
Fisch got his start in college coaching as a graduate assistant in 1999 at Florida, where he was hired by Steve Spurrier.
Additionally, Fisch has a reputation as a good recruiter, and one of UCLA’s top 2018 targets, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, is close with Fisch and was being recruited heavily by him to Michigan.
Overall, it’s easy to see why Mora would pursue Fisch for the position given his experience at both levels and his quarterback development. Some of his quarterbacks in college, including Rudock and Morris, were previously unheralded guys who are now on NFL rosters, and Wilton Speight looks like he’ll be drafted in due time at Michigan.
Now he gets to work alongside Josh Rosen, who is arguably the most talented quarterback he’ll have ever had in college.
While his time in Jacksonville will give many pause, even the best coaches aren’t successful at all their stops.
What to Expect
On the field, UCLA fans can expect a multiple-look offense from Jedd Fisch in 2017. It’ll use a mix of formations from both under center and shotgun and make use of both tight ends and fullbacks.
Fisch has also been known to implement a zone-blocking scheme, which is encouraging since it is both simpler to install for college offenses and a better fit for the offensive line talent on hand.
We will have more in-depth film breakdowns of Fisch’s offenses from Michigan and Miami as the offseason progresses and the coaching staff solidifies.
In essence, it strives to be a vastly improved version of the offense Kennedy Polamalu sought to install that was scrapped after 8 games this past season.
Off the field, the future looks a little murkier. It’s unclear what Fisch’s salary will look like and how much license he will be given to make changes to the offensive staff. The offensive coaching staff has come under severe criticism after the unmitigated disaster that was the 2016 UCLA offense, and with a new boss coming in, will there be changes made?
On the recruiting front, as was previously mentioned, Fisch has been involved with several 2018 targets, especially quarterbacks. UCLA has an offer out to four-star quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson from Nevada, who Fisch had pursued for Michigan.
After a wretched 2016, Jim Mora is hitching his wagons to yet another Josh Rosen-centric offense over a spread offense in what will probably be Rosen’s last season in Westwood before he turns pro.
And based on what we’ve seen from the team across town and 2017 opponent Washington, Mora and the rest of the Bruin faithful hope Fisch can get the offense swimming upstream in a hurry.