Alabama football assistant Eric Kiesau is emerging as a leading candidate to be the Fresno State Bulldogs’ next offensive coordinator, according to sources.
Kiesau, an offensive analyst with the Crimson Tide, was the offensive coordinator at Washington in 2013 when the Huskies generated 499.3 yards and 37.9 points per game to rank second and third, respectively, in the Pac-12 Conference. He also has been an offensive coordinator at Colorado and started his ascent in coaching in the first of two stints at Cal working with the wide receivers under former Fresno State quarterback Jeff Tedford.
Coach Tim DeRuyter, reached on Saturday, declined to comment on the search. The athletic department last week sent out a release that said a hire would be made around the first week of January – Alabama is playing Michigan State in a College Football Playoff semifinal at the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
Fresno State announced the firing of offensive coordinator Dave Schramm on Nov. 30. The Bulldogs this season struggled with its up-tempo spread offense in large part due to injuries and ineffective play at the quarterback position, leading to the change at offensive coordinator.
The 3-9 Bulldogs had a different starting quarterback in five consecutive games starting with third-year sophomore Zack Greenlee in a loss at Ole Miss in the second game of the season, then freshman Chason Virgil against Utah, junior Ford Childress at San Jose State, Greenlee at San Diego State and redshirt freshman Kilton Anderson against Utah State. That started a string of four straight starts by Anderson. But keeping with the theme of the season, Greenlee started the next two before Anderson got the nod in the season-finale.
50.1 percent combined completion percentage by Fresno State’s four quarterbacks in 2015
Combined, the four quarterbacks hit on only 50.1 percent of their passes (202 of 403) and had a passing efficiency rating of 103.16, ranking 11th of 12 in the Mountain West in both categories.
The Bulldogs, while attempting the second-most passes of any team in the conference with 33.6 per game, also were 11th in interceptions thrown with 16 and last in averaging just 5.3 yards per pass attempt. With the struggles in the passing game, opposing defenses were able to load up the box to thwart senior running back Marteze Waller and the Bulldogs’ rushing game.
Kiesau, 43, would be a very snug fit in diversifying the Bulldogs’ offense. When he was the offensive coordinator at Washington under Steve Sarkisian in 2012 and ’13, the Huskies ran an up-tempo spread offense, but he has run or worked in more multiple offenses at Alabama, at Colorado under Dan Hawkins in 2009 and ’10 and Tedford in his first stint at Cal from 2002 to ’05.
He last was an offensive coordinator in 2014 at Kansas when promoted from wide receivers coach for the final four games of the season. The Jayhawks to that point had gained an average of 314.4 yards in seven games against FBS opponents while scoring 13.7 points, but initially surged under Kiesau. Kansas rolled up 514 yards in a 34-14 victory over Iowa State and then 418 yards in a 34-30 loss to TCU, which was ranked No. 3 in the nation and finished the season leading the Big 12 Conference in total, scoring and third-down conversion defense and tackles for loss. The Kansas offense struggled in the final two games against Oklahoma and Kansas State.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
Fresno State starting quarterbacks in 2015
Chason Virgil (injured during game)
at San Jose State
Ford Childress (injured during game)
at San Diego State
at Air Force