There was some back and forth before former Fresno State offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer moved on and up, accepting a job at Indiana, so Bulldogs’ coach Jeff Tedford had some time to go through what could have been a long list of options finding a replacement.
It didn’t take long.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Fresno Bee
Similar to a year ago when defensive coordinator Orlondo Steinauer returned to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the CFL, Tedford promoted from within to maintain continuity with the system that has produced 22 wins and a conference title in two seasons.
The hiring of Ryan Grubb as offensive coordinator was made official on Monday, along with the hiring of Danny Langsdorf as quarterbacks coach and passing-game coordinator, Will Plemons as defensive line coach and Roman Sapolu as assistant offensive line coach.
“I feel like we’re just ready to keep moving,” Tedford said. “Continuity always has been really important. Grubb is really involved in the game planning and I’ve noticed through time that he is conscious of everything that we’re doing. He’s not just a run guy. He understands the pass game and all of that. He has had a big role in game planning, so to keep the continuity of system I felt like that was a natural progression.
“Then we went out and got Danny – I’ve known Danny for a long time, I’ve played against him a lot. He’s going to be the pass-game coordinator and work really close together with the rest of the offensive staff, but Danny and (receivers coach Kirby Moore) will be really tight with the passing game.”
Grubb will continue to coach an offensive line that for the past two years has led the Mountain West Conference in fewest tackles for loss allowed, working with Sapolu, the son of former San Francisco 49ers lineman Jesse Sapolu.
Defensive coordinator Bert Watts, who last season built on the Bulldogs’ success under Steinauer, added assistant head coach to his title. Jamie Christian returns as running backs coach, Scott Thompson as tight ends coach, Moore as receivers coach, Kenwick Thompson as linebackers coach and J.D. Williams as defensive backs coach.
Grubb, who also added the title associate head coach, takes over the offense at a challenging point having lost senior quarterback Marcus McMaryion and three of the top four wideouts from a team that went 12-2 with a Mountain West championship, a Las Vegas Bowl victory and was ranked third in the conference in points per game.
He has experience running an offense at NAIA Sioux Falls – the job progression there very similar to the promotion at Fresno State.
Grubb and DeBoer worked together at Eastern Michigan from 2014 to 2016. Before that, they were together at Sioux Falls where DeBoer was the Cougars’ head coach, going 67-3 from 2005 to ’09, and Grubb was the offensive line coach from 2007 to ’09. After DeBoer left for Southern Illinois, Grubb was promoted and was the offensive coordinator at Sioux Falls from 2010 to 2013.
In his first season running the Cougars’ offense, Sioux Falls ranked third in the NAIA in scoring offense and fourth in passing offense.
Grubb also was instrumental in game-planning for an offense that the past two seasons made large leaps with McMaryion at quarterback.
Fresno State in 2016 was ranked last in the Mountain West in scoring (17.7 ppg) and total offense (329.3 ypg) and in 2018 was third (34.6) and fourth (421.5).
“I’ve seen enough in two years to know he’s very capable of doing it. The play calling and all that stuff, we’ll work together with that,” Tedford said. “He’ll be the main play caller, but we’ll work together with that, just like we always do. He has a good handle on it and really good knowledge of what we do, where we’re strong and where we’re not.”
“Danny has been a play caller for a long time, so they’ll be able to feed off one another there, as it typically goes on over the headsets. Kalen would go, ‘Hey, Grubb, what do you want here? Do you want a counter or this or that or that.’ It came out of Kalen’s mouth, but there was always communication going on with Grubb and Grubb was always ready to call the plays because if the headsets were to go out, Grubb would call the plays from the sidelines.”
Langsdorf has been an offensive coordinator at Oregon State and Nebraska and has NFL experience with the New Orleans Saints and New York Giants. Plemons, who spent four years at Fresno State coaching linebackers and then the defensive line under Pat Hill, last season was at Sacramento State and Sapolu comes to Fresno State from Idaho State.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada