UCLA will open Fall Training Camp a week from tomorrow with the first week in Westwood and the second week in San Bernardino. So, today, Bruins Nation begins our Fall Football Preview by looking at changes to the coaching staff.
This year, there were three changes to the UCLA Football coaching staff. It’s no secret to anyone who follows UCLA Football that Noel and Taylor Mazzone are gone. Their departure was one of the biggest highlights of the long offseason for Bruin fans.
Throughout Spring Practice, the changes being implemented by new offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu who was promoted from running backs coach.
Polamalu previously served as the offensive coordinator and running backs coach at Southern Cal from 2010-2012. He has extensive experience coaching running backs, having coached the position in the NFL from 2004-2009. With the Jacksonville Jaguars, he coached both Fred Taylor and former Bruin Maurice Jones-Drew.
This season will be his first year where he will have play-calling duties. While that may be a concern to some, if the results from Spring Practice are any indication, UCLA will be featuring a more physical, "downhill" style of football on offense. (Just don’t call it a pro-style offense in front of Coach Mora.)
Almost anything has to be an improvement over an offense whose coordinator used to brag that he just called the same five plays over and over again in a different order.
The second change is that Marques Tuiasosopo has returned to Westwood.
Bruin fans will recall that Coach Tui chose to return to his alma mater when an opportunity arose when Steve Sarkisian was the Huskies’ head coach. Tuiasosopo also followed Sarkisian when the latter coach accepted the head job at Southern Cal.
Well, Coach Tuiasosopo has returned to Westwood this year to coach the quarterbacks. During his first stint at UCLA, he was coaching tight ends in an offense which didn’t have play with a true tight end during Coach Mora’s first season. Now, that he’s UCLA’s quarterback coach and passing game coordinator, it’s a more natural fit for him because he played QB at Washington and for eight seasons in the NFL with the Raiders and Jets.
The last major change to the coaching staff is a shift of responsibilities. Rip Scherer had been working in the UCLA Athletics administration since 2013. But, with the shift in offensive philosophy and the introduction of true tight ends to the offense, someone was needed to coach the position. As a coach with more than 30 years experience, Scherer fit the bill and will return to the field this season.
All three of these changes are on the offensive side of the ball and, after last season, it was clear that some changes needed to be made offensively. On one hand, you could say that it was "addition by subtraction" — that the decision by the Mazzones to head to Texas A&M would, by itself, improve the Bruin offense. But, at the same time, after watching Spring Practice, it looks like Coach Polamalu’s new offense is going to be a much better fit for Josh Rosen’s talents.