For the fourth time in less than five years, Coach Karl Dorrell is looking for a new offensive coordinator for the UCLA football team. Jim Svoboda, who guided the Bruins on offense last season, was fired Thursday.
Svoboda, 46, was hired in 2004 to coach Bruins quarterbacks and Dorrell made him coordinator before the start of last season after Tom Cable left for the Atlanta Falcons.
But UCLA’s offense struggled with consistency, and by midseason Dorrell had taken a more active role in game preparation and play-calling. After the Bruins closed the season with a loss to Florida State in the Emerald Bowl to finish with a 7-6 record, Dorrell said he thoroughly analyzed his program.
“I decided to go through and make this change particularly to give ourselves some new leadership on that side of the ball and build on 2007,” the coach said.
UCLA is expected to return 10 starters on offense next season.
Dorrell said he does not have a timetable to fill the position and that he might take coordination duties upon himself.
“I believe I do have some time to go through the process in meeting with people who are potential candidates and getting together a great staff,” Dorrell said. “I was able to do that with a good deal of success last year on the defensive side, and I’m sure that I’ll be able to find a great candidate who can help us and lead us on offense.”
After averaging more than 39 points and going 10-2 in 2005, the Bruins averaged 23 points last season and Svoboda’s stock plummeted with the dip in production.
A year ago, Svoboda was among six finalists for the Frank Broyles assistant coach of the year award because, under his guidance, Bruins quarterback Drew Olson had a breakout senior season in which he passed for 3,198 yards and a school-record 34 touchdowns with six interceptions.
But this season the Bruins didn’t have Olson or running back Maurice Drew or top receiver Marcedes Lewis, who all moved on to the NFL.
UCLA was criticized some for its play-calling after a 29-19 loss to Washington in which the Bruins ran on 19 of 24 first-down plays.
Then, after a 30-20 loss to Oregon on Oct. 14, Dorrell questioned his coordinator’s play choice when asked about a third-and-three run in the first quarter with the Bruins already trailing by 13. The play was stuffed and UCLA settled for a field goal.
After that, Dorrell became increasingly more involved in the offense.
After UCLA’s loss in the Emerald Bowl, Svoboda talked about his first season as coordinator, admitting that the offense underachieved at times and saying, “We have to become more consistent across the board. The whole group.”
Dorrell said UCLA’s next coordinator may not need a background in running the West Coast offense, which he has preferred.
“Continuity is always good when you can find it, but I’m looking for a great leader,” Dorrell said.
“I know we have a foundation of offense ... but that foundation allows us to grow and to add and implement things for improvements. I’m receptive to doing what is necessary for us to continue to improve.”
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UCLA’s offensive averages (with NCAA rankings) in 2005, when Jim Svoboda was assistant coach in charge of quarterbacks, and in 2006, when he was offensive coordinator:
* RUSHING ... 160.7
* PASSING ... 270.3
* TOTAL ... 431.0
* SCORING ... 39.1
* RUSHING ... 129.8
* PASSING ... 200.3
* TOTAL ... 330.8
* SCORING ... 23.0