UCLA officially promotes Kennedy Polamalu to offensive coordinator

UCLA running back coach Kennedy Polamalu talks to his player during the Bruins morning practice at Cal State San Bernardino in San Bernardino, Ca., Wednesday, August 19, 2015. (Photo by John Valenzuela/The Sun)

UCLA hopes that promoting running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu to offensive coordinator will make for a “a multifaceted offense.” (John Valenzuela/Staff)

UCLA has officially announced its promotion of Kennedy Polamalu to offensive coordinator, as well as the hiring of Marques Tuiasosopo and Rip Scherer — moves that the team hopes will help build a more diverse offense.

“As we continue to evolve as a program and tailor our philosophies and schemes to the strengths of our players, what you will see is a multifaceted offense incorporating tight ends and fullbacks into our schemes,” head coach Jim Mora said in a statement. “Our objective is to be a big, strong and physical offensive unit that has flexibility of personnel groupings. I know we have the right men in Kennedy, Marques and Rip to implement this philosophy.”

ANALYSIS: Breaking down the implications of UCLA’s new coaching hires

Polamalu’s new role comes after two seasons of working as the Bruins’ running backs coach, a period that saw him become one of the most effective members of the staff. UCLA has averaged 4.95 yards per carry since he arrived in Westwood, and have developed depth at running back to replace former Pac-12 leading rusher Paul Perkins, who declared for the NFL draft. Continue reading

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UCLA close to hiring Kennedy Polamalu as offensive coordinator

UCLA running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu is close to being promoted to offensive coordinator. (Brad Graverson/Staff)

UCLA running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu is close to being promoted to offensive coordinator. (Brad Graverson/Staff)

UCLA appears close to promoting running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu to offensive coordinator, filling the vacancy left by Noel Mazzone earlier this week.

Polamalu’s name has been floated for the position ever since Mazzone took the same position at Texas A&M earlier this week. 247 Sports first reported this morning that Polamalu has accepted the offer.

The 52-year-old held the title of offensive coordinator at USC from 2010-12, but ceded playcalling duties to then-head coach Lane Kiffin. He has served as UCLA’s running backs coach for the past two seasons, but his responsibilities have expanded beyond the backfield, working with the offensive line when position coach Adrian Klemm was suspended for the first two games of the season.

The Bruins are also set to hire USC assistant Marques Tuiasosopo to replace former quarterbacks coach Taylor Mazzone, expected to follow his father to College State. Tuiasosopo was UCLA’s Y-receivers coach in 2012, but left to join Steve Sarkisian’s staff at Washington. He was the interim coach during the Huskies’ 31-16 win over BYU in the 2013 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl before following Sarkisian to USC.

UPDATE: Rip Scherer is also set to become UCLA’s tight ends coach, according to FOX Sports. The 63-year-old has served as a Bruin associate athletic director for the past two years, but has decades of coaching experience in both the NFL and college.

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Noel Mazzone officially becomes Texas A&M offensive coordinator

A day after Jim Mora left open a slight possibility for his return, Noel Mazzone finalized his deal to become Texas A&M’s new offensive coordinator.

The Aggies announced his hiring on Friday, with head coach Kevin Sumlin saying in a statement: “I have known Noel for many years and he is a great addition to our coaching staff. His experience is outstanding and he will do an excellent job of coordinating our offense.”

The two first worked together in the mid-1990s as assistants in Minnesota, and their relationship continued through football clinics.

The former UCLA offensive coordinator will open the next stage of his career against the Bruins on Sept. 3 in College Station. A deal between Mazzone and the Aggies had been close to done since Wednesday, but Mora insisted on Thursday evening that the 58-year-old was still a part of his coaching staff.

UCLA quarterbacks coach Taylor Mazzone is expected to follow his father to Texas A&M.

Mora could seek to replace the elder Mazzone by promoting running backs Kennedy Polamalu, who held the offensive coordinator title for three seasons at USC but ceded playcalling duties to then-head coach Lane Kiffin.

UCLA has thrice filled coaching vacancies under Mora by looking in house: moving Taylor Mazzone from graduate assistant to Y-receivers coach in 2013; Jeff Ulbrich from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator in 2014; and Scott White from defensive quality control to linebackers coach in 2015.

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Paul Perkins comfortable with increased workload in UCLA’s backfield

Paul Perkins has lived up to any and all expectations in his first full season as UCLA’s starting running back, becoming the program’s 13th 1,000-yard rusher and ranking third in the Pac-12 with 117.2 yards per game.

Along the way, the redshirt sophomore has had to adjust to a much heavier workload. Last season, he only took double-digit carries five times, and finished the year with 130. This season, he has taken at least 14 carries in every game, and has a total of 190.

“It’s good to have a bye,” Perkins said. “That’s pretty much all I can say.”

Head coach Jim Mora hasn’t noticed a difference in the 5-foot-11 tailback’s performance.

“He hasn’t really shown any indication of being worn out or worn down at all,” he said. “Even on a Tuesday, he bounces back. I guess that’s the good thing about being 19 or 20 years old.” Continue reading

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VIDEO: Assistant coach Kennedy Polamalu talks about UCLA tailbacks


Asked if he had a prospective starting tailback yet, assistant coach Kennedy Polamalu went with the stock answer: They’re all No. 1, and they’ll all contribute.

Linebacker Myles Jack, who rushed for seven touchdowns in four games last year, won’t be among the group for the foreseeable future. Though it wouldn’t be surprising for the two-way Pac-12 Freshman of the Year to get some offensive reps once the season starts, he hasn’t practiced there at all this spring.

“I’ve been told, ‘Stay away,'” Polamalu said.

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