Earlier today, Michigan announced the addition of John Baxter as special teams coordinator. A short time later, another hire that had been widely reported was officially confirmed.
As expected, Jedd Fisch (pictured, right) has been hired by new head coach Jim Harbaugh as his quarterbacks and wide receivers coach. Additionally, Fisch will carry the title of passing-game coordinator.
Fisch had spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.
“Jedd has acquired a great deal of expertise during his career and he’ll be an outstanding member of our Michigan family,” a statement from Harbaugh began. “He has shown the ability to develop young talent, like Blake Bortles just last year with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he has a great passion for teaching the game. With his track record in the NFL and college — including time in Big Ten country — he will be a great fit in Ann Arbor.”
Prior to his latest stint in the NFL, Fisch spent two seasons (2011-12) as the coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Miami (Fla.). Fisch’s only other staff job at the collegiate level came in 2009 as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Minnesota.
He did, though, begin his coaching career as a grad assistant under Steve Spurrier at Florida for two seasons (1999-2000).
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to come to Michigan and work with Coach Harbaugh,” said Fisch. “I have had the good fortune during my years to learn from some tremendous mentors, and I believe this situation will be another terrific experience. Most importantly, I am looking forward to mentoring the outstanding student-athletes that will suit up for the Wolverines.”
With the additions of Fisch and Baxter, Harbaugh now has two openings remaining on his staff to announce.
The UCF Knights will need a new go-to receiver in 2015. Breshad Perriman has announced his decision to leave UCF a year early to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft. The school released a brief statement confirming and announcing the decision for Perriman to turn pro.
“I met with Breshad on Sunday. After discussing it with his family, he informed me he of his plans to enter the Draft,” UCF head coach George O’Leary said. “I wish him the best of luck and I hope everything works out for him.”
Perriman was fourth in the American Athletic Conference in 2014 with 1,044 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Perriman was just one of four receivers in the conference to record 1,000 receiving yards this season, and his average receiving yards per reception of 20.88 ypr were second most in the AAC behind Cincinnati’s Chris Moore (22.43 ypr).
Perriman is hoping to become UCF’s first wide receiver drafted by an NFL team since Mike Walker in the 2007 NFL Draft (Jacksonville Jaguars, third round). Last year’s draft saw former UCF teammate quarterback Blake Bortles drafted in the first round and running back Storm Johnson selected in the seventh round. Both Bortles and Johnson were drafted by the Jaguars.
Whether it is the Big East or American Athletic Conference, the UCF Knights won 10 straight league games after Thursday’s 17-12 victory over the Houston Cougars. It only took a game-saving forced fumble by Knights safety Brandon Alexander with 24 seconds remaining to clinch the win.
While the Knights had the luxury of quarterback Blake Bortles in previous seasons, a George O’Leary squad is always built around fundamentally sound defense. The defense couldn’t have come up any bigger than it did against the Cougars as it appeared the game was about to slip away and result in a loss.
Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. was on the verge of slicing through the Knights’ defense to steal a victory as he dove for the end zone. Alexander worked his way across the field to hit Ward’s arms as the quarterback attempted to stretch the ball beyond the goal line. Alexander’s hit forced a fumble which went out of the back of the end zone. And a desperate Cougars comeback fell short.
Despite coming up inches short, a quarterback controversy is brewing for the Houston Cougars.
Ward did everything in his power to close the deficit the Cougars faced after sophomore signal-caller John O’Korn struggled through another half. O’Korn may be the traditional pocket passer while Ward does everything on offense and special teams, but the backup quarterback brought a completely different dynamic as a runner as well as a passer. Ward was 10-of-17 passing for 116 yards in the second half. O’Korn, meanwhile, was 12-of-25 passing for 98 yards and a pair of interceptions through the first two quarters.
UCF doesn’t have the same concerns. They settled on sophomore Justin Holman after the first half of the first game against the Penn State Nittany Lions. Holman was only 3-of-10 passing in the first half, but he connected with wide receiver Breshad Perriman for 52 yards and the game’s deciding touchdown in the third frame.
The Knights are now one of four teams in the American to open conference play with a 1-0 record. This particular victory was vital since the Cougars were expected to be one of the top teams vying for a conference crown. With Houston out of the way, UCF can now concentrate the No. 18 BYU Cougars before the Knights reenter conference play.
Quarterback play is what currently separates the Penn State Nittany Lions from the UCF Knights in the Croke Park Classic in Dublin, Ireland. The Nittany Lions lead the Knights 10-3 thanks to the play of sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg.
Early in the contest, the Knights were winning at the line of scrimmage. The Nittany Lions running game was shut down, and Hackenberg was under duress when he dropped back to pass. The 11 yards on the ground Penn State did accumulate came courtesy of Hackenberg scrambling from the pocket.
Penn State adjusted by moving the pocket and allowed Hackenberg to take over in the passing game. The sophomore was able to complete multiple passes on third down to extend drives which eventually resulted in points. At the half, Hackenberg is 17-of-26 passing for 218 yards. Redshirt freshman wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton was the biggest beneficiary of Hackenberg’s play with 107 receiving yards through two quarters.
Hackenberg was allowed to get on track after a roughing the punter penalty granted the Nittany Lions a first down during their initial drive. Hackenberg connected with Hamilton for a 44-yard gain, which eventually resulted in a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Zach Zwinak. The score held up as the difference going into halftime.
Pete DiNovo, meanwhile, struggled during his first start as UCF’s quarterback. DiNovo was 3-of-7 passing for 18 yards. The quarterback’s inability to connect in the passing game allowed Penn State to load the box and shut down the Knights’ running game. The Knights only had 17 yards via the ground game.
Due to DiNovo’s ineffectiveness, UCF head coach George O’Leary replaced him just before halftime with sophomore Justin Holman, who served as Blake Bortles’ backup last season.
O’Leary now has a decision to make coming out of halftime. Will he allow Holman to continue at quarterback, or will the coach go back to DiNovo?
The answer will decide UCF’s fate during the second half of play.
UCF head coach George O’Leary previously stated he would name the Knights’ new starting quarterback Sunday. He didn’t go quite that far.
O’Leary did indicate which quarterback would be the opening-day starter if the season began today.
DiNovo is somewhat of a surprise choice to become Blake Bortles‘ successor.
Both DiNovo and Justin Holman were recruited in the 2013 class. While DiNovo redshirted, Holman served as Bortles’ primary back and played in three games as a true freshman. O’Leary’s decision indicates DiNovo developed at a greater rate than Holman did between last year and this summer.
With DiNovo leading the way, O’Leary has to determine the rest of the depth chart. Sophomore Nick Patti and freshman Tyler Harris were also a part of the competition. O’Leary has an idea where all four quarterbacks currently stand.
O’Leary wanted to name his quarterback at this point in the process to build chemistry in the huddle. Now that the coach has indicated which of the signal callers is currently considered the favorite, the Knights can place their full attention on the Penn State Nittany Lions and their meeting Aug. 30 in Dublin, Ireland.