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New UCLA football assistants to operate under a new philosophy

New UCLA football assistants to operate under a new philosophy
Kennedy Polamaluhas been promoted to offensive coordinator at UCLA. (UCLA Athletics)

UCLA's football team has some new coaches on offense, and with them a new philosophy, Coach Jim Mora said.

"What you will see is a multifaceted offense incorporating tight ends and fullbacks into our schemes," Mora said Wednesday in a statement summarizing the coaching changes. "Our objective is to be a big, strong and physical offensive unit that has flexibility of personnel groupings."

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UCLA's statement confirmed what was reported this week: Kennedy Polamalu has been promoted to offensive coordinator and will remain the running backs coach, Marques Tuiasosopo has left USC to coach UCLA's quarterbacks and Rip Scherer will transition from associate athletic director for football to tight ends coach.

Although the changes have been known for several days, the timing of the announcement removes any lingering doubt as UCLA's recruiting operation shifts gears. Wednesday was the last day of the NCAA-mandated dead period in which coaches aren't allowed in-person contact with recruits.

Tuiasosopo in particular is regarded as a strong recruiter. National signing day is Feb. 3.

UCLA hopes its new staff can reinvigorate an offense that seemed to plateau. In his four seasons as coach, Mora's offensive coordinator was Noel Mazzone. Mazzone and his son, Taylor, UCLA's quarterbacks coach, left UCLA for similar jobs at Texas A&M a week ago.

Under Mazzone, UCLA's offense ranked 24th in the nation in 2012, 38th in 2013, 23rd in 2014 and 28th in 2015.

UCLA ran a read-option offense when Brett Hundley was quarterback and still used more of a spread attack last season with freshman Josh Rosen calling signals. Now the Bruins are likely to keep Rosen in the pocket more often.

UCLA's loss to Nebraska in the Foster Farms Bowl provided an impetus for change. The Bruins were out-rushed 326 yards to 67.

"We need to get bigger, obviously. We need to get stronger, obviously," Mora said after the game. "So when we get into these games against a team like Nebraska that's a power team, or Stanford that's a power team, we have more guys we can roll through there that have some girth to them and we don't get pushed around."

Polamalu has been the running backs coach the last two seasons, and Paul Perkins rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each. Like Tuiasosopo, Polamalu has built a reputation as a skilled recruiter.

He also brings experience as an offensive coordinator. The former USC fullback and linebacker served as USC's offensive coordinator for three seasons, until Lane Kiffin fired him in 2013.

Polamalu devised part of UCLA's game plan for the Foster Farms Bowl in December, but he does not have extensive experience calling plays. Kiffin handled play-calling responsibilities at USC.

"Play-calling is a function of preparation during the week and understanding tendencies," Mora said, "and you'll be hard pressed to find someone who prepares better and understands tendencies more than KP."

Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter @zhelfand

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