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Interview with the Big Fisch of the Gopher Offense

02/06/2009, 12:00am CST
By Nadine Babu

Gopher Football

Shortly after being named the new offensive coordinator at the University of Minnesota, Jedd Fisch said he won't run the spread offense, the west coast offense, but rather will implement the Gopher offense. It will offer varied formations, sets and plays depending on the opponent matchups. The youthful Fisch joins the Gopher coaching staff after Mike Dunbar stepped aside to pursuit other opportunities, and brings with him eight years of NFL coaching experience; most recently with the Denver Broncos.

Fisch will inherit an offense with plenty of weapons including a two-year starting QB in Adam Weber, one of the best WR's in the nation in Eric Decker, and Hayo Carpenter, one of the top JUCO WR's in the country. These weapons, along with a more physical offensive line, will allow the Gophers much more flexibility as the Gophers enter TCF Bank Stadium.

Fisch spoke with at the Sota Social Recruiting Party, where he discussed his NFL experience, his excitement about taking the offensive coordinator position at The U and his belief in Coach Brewster and the program he is building at Minnesota.

Jedd FischGH: How did Brewster say he finally decided on you?

JF: I got a phone call from Coach Brewster when I landed at an airport in Mobile, Alabama while I was interviewing with some other teams at the senior bowl. He said "œI think that coming to the University of Minnesota would be a great fit for you; to come in and run the offense". I've known Tim for seven years, and I told him we should talk about it. I'd never been to the University of Minnesota, so I got on a airplane on Tuesday and went up there to see what things were like. We looked at the campus, the team, and looked at some tape. It was a situation where I felt really good, I felt really at home, and I thought it was a good fit.

GH: There was a very extensive search to find the new coordinator, do you feel you have more to prove being a younger and less experienced candidate?

JF: To be honest, I wasn't part of the extensive search. I didn't even know the University of Minnesota offensive coordinator job was available until I was offered the job. I don't feel I have anything to prove compared to the other candidates, but I want Coach Brewster to feel like he made the right hire. I won't work any harder if I was interviewing with 10 people or nobody, because the job is the job, and it's to make the absolute best offense we can have at the University of Minnesota.

GH: What is your offensive philosophy?

JF: We're going to have a balanced attack, and we're going to spread the football around into all of our playmaker's hands. I've made the comment from the very beginning that we're going to go for touchdowns; that's going to be our philosophy. It doesn't matter whether it be by running the football or throwing the football, with one back or two backs, west coast or east coast, run and shoot and fun and gun; I've been around all of the different systems. We're building a system from scratch here. We started from day one with a blank sheet of paper, and based on the experience I've have with Steve Spurrier, Brian Billick, and of course, Mike Shannahan last year, we're going to build an offense that's best for our players.

GH: So you would not characterize Minnesota as running the spread anymore?

JF: No, I would not characterize it as the spread anymore. We're going to be a pro-style offense.

GH: Do your long-term career aspirations lie in the NFL or College Football?

JF: I don't look at the long-term, I look at right now and where we're at. I have not coached college football, other than as a graduate assistant with Coach Spurrier nine years ago. So to me, right now I see myself where I currently am, as the University of Minnesota offensive coordinator.

GH: Moving from a position coach to coordinator is a big change. How do you expect to adapt to your new role? What do you foresee being the greatest challenges?

JF: Obviously, calling the game will be the biggest thing, because I'll be the final decision maker on the offense. But other than that, I think I've always had an opportunity to speak to the whole offense, and I've installed different phases of the offense in the past four years. You have to be able to control and organize all of the meetings, and that will be a huge job, and an exciting one.

Jedd FischGH: How has your philosophy matched with Coach Davis' as far as the offense is concerned? How have you worked together so far?

JF: Coach Davis and I have had great conversations. There's no question who is going to call the game on Saturday, I will. Coach Davis will have a great amount of input during the week as to what is the best way to attack defenses, the best way to run the football, and how to protect the quarterback, but all the coaches on this staff will have a ton of input. We are not going to discriminate based on experience or job title; we're going to do it together.

GH: Have you been able to watch film from last season?

JF: We're going to start that on Monday.

GH: Have you seen any games yet?

JF: Just the bowl game.

GH: What changes would you make immediately?

JF: I don't know what Kansas did on defense, so I wouldn't make any changes right now. We'll really have to go through it all, and after I go through the 13 games, I'll have a better feel of what we can do better or worse. It's going to be an entirely new offense, so the entire thing will change.

GH: Do you think losing last years OL coach, Offensive Coordinator and Defensive Coordinator will post many problems in the short term, as far as team chemistry is concerned?

JF: Everywhere I've ever been I think I've had great relationships with my players, and I plan on having great relationships with my players here. The rest of the coaching staff is in tact. Coach Davis has been here for the bowl game, so his players have a great relationship with him. I think our players will respond great to the way to the way we coach and teach, and I will respond well to all of them.

GH: You beat the odds while battling an aortic aneurysm a few years ago "“ how has that impacted you? That is truly remarkable.

JF: As I said when I got interviewed 5 years ago, when it happened to me, you have a new lease on life. You know that you were given a second chance, and not a lot of people were given that same chance. Clearly, when you're 27 and you go through that, you have values that might change a little bit. Some of my decision making, I hope, got better. The one thing I will never change is the importance of work ethic, and the importance of valuing family first. I have had great relationships with friends from childhood on; when that happens to you, you value those friendships to the highest level.

GH: What is the typical the survival rate?

JF: I think it's very low. If it's not treated within 24 hours, it's 0%, but from what I understand, it dissects 1% an hour, your chances of living are 1% less every hour you have a dissection. Mine was about 77-78% dissected range. I had about a 22% chance of survival.

GH: What made you beat this?

JF: Great doctors. I was in Houston at the number one heart institute in the country.

GH: On a personal note, you and your wife just moved here a few days ago, do you have children?

JF: I have a daughter who's 10, and a baby on the way.

GH: When is she due?

JF: In May, it's going to be a girl.

GH: How has the transition been going for you and your family?

JF: It'll be great, my daughter is unbelievably excited about moving here, she's a wonderful personality, she's moved around to three different teams, and she can't wait to be a part of Gopher Football. I took the job on a Wednesday, and on Thursday she wore a University of Minnesota sweatshirt to school. My wife and our soon to be baby will love it. My wife is wonderful, and she understands what it's like to be a coaches' wife.

"“ Previous article: Brewster Names Former NFL Assistant Fisch Offensive Coordinator
"“ Previous article: Cosgrove Named Gophers' Co-Defensive Coordinator; Lee Promoted
"“ Previous article: Brewster Names Davis Running Game Coordinator/Line Coach

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Tag(s): Gopher Football