UCLA Football Preview: Former UCLA OC Jedd Fisch Back Coaching in the Pac-12
Fisch's Wildcat coaching staff also has a lot of Bruin ties.
After getting embarassed by Arizona State last weekend at home, the UCLA Bruins head to the Desert for a game tonight against the Arizona Wildcats. The Wildcats are winless so far this season under new head coach and former UCLA offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch.
While it’s nice to see Fisch get an opportunity to become a head coach, the fact that he’s coaching in the Pac-12 means that Bruin fans need to hope that Fisch’s team doesn’t beat UCLA.
Unfortunately, the Arizona coaching change also means that one of our favorite coaches to hate, Noel Mazzone, is no longer the Wildcats' offensive coordinator.
Let’s look at the new Arizona coaching staff before taking a look at their special teams.
Jedd Fisch’s Coaching Staff
Bruin fans are already familiar with new Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch from his time in Westwood. Fisch revitalized UCLA’s offense following the departure of Noel Mazzone. In fact, Fisch was likely the driving force behind the fact that UCLA made the Cactus Bowl in what was Jim Mora’s final season. Of course, after Mora was fired, Fisch took over as the team’s interim head coach for the 2017 Cactus Bowl, which the team lost to Kansas State.
Since leaving UCLA, Fisch spent two seasons coaching under Sean McVay, first as an senior offensive assistant and then as the assistant offensive coordinator, before spending last year as the quarterbacks coach for the New England Patriots under Bill Belichick.
When he arrived in Westwood, Fisch’s credentials were already impressive. Two seasons under one of the top offensive minds in the NFL and one under one of the greatest head coaches in NFL history only make Fisch even more impressive.
While Arizona fans seemed underwhelmed with the selection of Fisch, he has tried to win over a hungry Arizona fanbase.
Fisch’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach is Brennan Carroll. Carroll spent the past five seasons serving as the offensive line coach for the Seattle Seahawks under his dad. Yes, his dad is, in fact, Cheatey Petey. That explains why the younger Carroll began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Southern Cal. It seems like he and Fisch likely got to know each other when Fisch was Seattle’s quarterback coach in 2010 because Carroll followed Fisch to the University of Miami when Fisch became the Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator in 2011 under Al Golden.
Fisch’s defensive coordinator, Don Brown, joins the Wildcats after spending the past five seasons at one of Fisch’s other coaching stops, the University of Michigan, where he was Jim Harbaugh’s DC and linebackers coach. In addition to Michigan, Brown has made stops at Boston College, UConn, Maryland, UMass, Yale and Dartmouth.
In addition, the new Arizona coaching staff has a lot of UCLA ties on it. Jimmie Dougherty left Chip Kelly’s staff earlier this year to become Fisch’s Passing Game Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach. Former Bruin DC and interim head coach DeWayne Walker coaches the Wildcat defensive backs alongside Chuck Cecil. The final Bruin connection on the Arizona staff is former UCLA receiver Darren Andrews who is serving as a offensive graduate assistant.
Senior placekicker Lucas Havrisik will handle both kickoff and field goal duties for the Wildcats. While Havrisik’s career long field goal is 57 yards, his season long has decreased each year he’s played for Arizona. In his previous four seasons, his longest each year has been 51 yards or more, but he has struggled beyond 40 yards this season, missing his only two tries so far.
Havrisik has shown a better leg on kickoffs where 13 of his 14 kickoffs have gone for touchbacks. So, look for UCLA to be starting from the 25 following any Arizona touchdowns.
Punting duties will be handled by sophomore Kyle Ostendorp. So far, Ostendorp has been a busy guy, averaging 6.25 punts per game. With him kicking so often, it’s a good thing that he’s also averaging more than 48 yards per punt. Nine of his kicks have been inside the 20 and his season long is 71 yards.
Redshirt junior Stanley Berryhill III has run back all nine of the team’s punt returns so far this year and his long is 51 yards. If UCLA isn’t careful, he could break a big one against them.
Meanwhile, senior receiver Tayvian Cunningham has run back 12 of the team’s 15 kickoff returns. He’s averaging 22.33 yards per return, but his longest of the year went for 36 yards against BYU.