LOS ANGELES – UCLA head football coach Jim Mora announced today the promotion of Kennedy Polamalu to Offensive Coordinator and the hiring of position coaches Marques Tuiasosopo (quarterbacks/passing game coordinator) and Rip Scherer (tight ends), pending official approval by the UC Board of Regents.
“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,” said Mora. “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.”
Polamalu, who will continue to coach running backs in addition to his new role, capped off his second season at UCLA with running back Paul Perkins becoming the Bruins’ first back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher since DeShaun Foster in 2000-01. Under Polamalu’s guidance, Perkins, who finished 2015 as one of the nation’s top 25 rushers in terms of yards and garnered second team all-conference honors, led the Pac-12 Conference in rushing yards during the 2014 season while totaling the second-highest rushing yard total in school history (1,575 yards).
A four-year letterman (1982-85) as both fullback and linebacker at USC, prior to coming to Westwood, Polamalu served as the Trojans offensive coordinator and running backs coach from 2010-12 in his second stint with the team. During his first tenure as an assistant coach at his alma mater from 2000-03, he served as running backs coach (2000), special teams coordinator (2001) and running backs coach/special teams coordinator (2002, 2003).
From 2004-09, Polamalu worked in the NFL ranks as Tennessee Titans running backs coach following the 2009 season, Jacksonville Jaguars running backs coach (2005-09) and Cleveland Browns running backs coach (2004-05). While in Jacksonville, both Fred Taylor (2007) and former UCLA great Maurice Jones-Drew (2009) earned Pro Bowl honors as the Jaguars offense totaled the third most rushing yards in the NFL over that time, including four Top 10 rushing finishes. In 2009, Jones-Drew finished fourth in the NFL in rushing (1,391 yards), fourth in scrimmage yards (1,765) and second in total touchdowns scored (16). In 2008, Greg Jones became the highest paid fullback in NFL history.
Mora on Kennedy Polamalu – “Kennedy has been instrumental in developing game plans with us for two years now. Play calling is a function of preparation during the week and understanding tendencies, and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who prepares better and understands tendencies more than KP. He brings a real element of toughness to this staff. He’s disciplined, he’s organized and he’s extremely well respected, revered really, by our players.”
Tuiasosopo, named 2015 Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year by Scout.com, returns to Westwood as quarterback coach/passing game coordinator after spending the previous two seasons as associate head coach (Offense)/tight ends coach at USC. Prior to joining the Trojans, the Washington Husky standout and former NFL quarterback served as tight ends coach at UCLA in 2012. An intern in the Bruins’ football office during the 2011 season, Tuiasosopo was elevated to the quarterback coach position for the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
A second round pick by Oakland in the 2001 NFL Draft, Tuiasosopo played seven seasons at quarterback for the Raiders (2001-06, 2008) and one for the New York Jets (2007) following a highly decorated collegiate career in which he lettered four seasons (1997-2000) for the Washington Huskies. Named 2000 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year and 2001 Rose Bowl MVP, while at Washington, he set UW’s career total offense record with 5,879 yards and 33 touchdowns passing while rushing for 1,495 yards and 21 TDs. The first true freshman to start at quarterback for Washington, two years later, in a victory over Stanford in 1999, he became the first NCAA Division I player to pass for 300 yards and rush for 200 yards in a game.
Mora on Marques Tuiasosopo – “Marques and I obviously share an alma mater and our fathers were both together at UCLA in the 1970s as player and coach, but the most important similarity is our attention to detail. Marques is a tactician. He knows being a quarterback inside and out, having competed at the highest level in the NFL. He also has a very commanding presence, which is what it takes to play and coach this particular position as well as deliver our message on the recruiting trail.”
With 33 years of full-time coaching experience (27 collegiate, 6 NFL), Scherer returns to the sidelines after three seasons overseeing UCLA Football as Associate Athletic Director.
Scherer, who joined the Bruins following two seasons as assistant head coach/quarterback coach at Colorado and six total seasons as a quarterback coach with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers (2009-10) and Cleveland Browns (2005-08), has coached in each of the Power-5 Conferences and held head coaching positions at both James Madison and Memphis. In his final two seasons with the Browns, Scherer added assistant head coach duties to his responsibilities under head coach Romeo Crennel.
Notable from Scherer’s time in the NFL was his work with young quarterbacks. At Carolina (under head coach John Fox), Scherer was integral in the development of former Bruin quarterback Matt Moore, who led the Panthers to a 4-1 record while starting the last five games of the 2009 season while generating a 104.9 quarterback rating after veteran Jake Delhomme sustained an injury. In Cleveland he helped develop Derek Anderson, who was selected to the 2007 Pro Bowl after throwing for 3,787 yards and 29 touchdowns, as the Browns boasted the eighth-best offense in the NFL in terms of scoring and passing yards per game.
Perhaps the foremost of his collegiate coaching accomplishments came during his time as head coach at Memphis when he guided the Tigers to the university’s first-ever win over in-state rival Tennessee, 21-17 – a victory tabbed as “Upset of the Year” by several news organizations and one which came at a time when the No. 6 Volunteers were led by quarterback Peyton Manning.
Mora on Rip Scherer – “Rip is a football coach, plain and simple. It’s what he was born to do, and he has been a tremendous resource to me, our staff and players these past three years. His wealth of football knowledge is surpassed only by his integrity, and you will not find anyone more respected in professional and collegiate football circles around the country than Rip Scherer. His level-headed approach and professionalism make him the ideal fit for this staff.”