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UCLA offensive coordinator dropped after dismal season

UCLA head coach Jim Mora watches from the sideline during the second half against California on Saturday in Berkeley, Calif.
Tony Avelar / Associated Press
UCLA head coach Jim Mora watches from the sideline during the second half against California on Saturday in Berkeley, Calif.

LOS ANGELES — UCLA dropped offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu on Sunday after a dismal season for the Bruins’ offense.

Coach Jim Mora announced the move one day after his worst year in Westwood ended at 4-8 with a loss at California.

Polamalu spent just one season calling plays for the Bruins’ offense after two years as their running backs coach. The veteran assistant was promoted and promised to bring a physical, run-based pro scheme to the school after four seasons under Noel Mazzone, who ran a sophisticated college-style passing game.

Instead, UCLA finished 127th out of 128 FBS teams with just 84.3 yards rushing per game. The Bruins also did little with talented sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen, who will have his third offensive coordinator in three seasons next year after missing the second half of this season with injuries.

“I want to thank Kennedy for his hard work, dedication to the program and commitment to our student-athletes,” Mora said in a statement announcing his move. “He is a professional in every sense of the word.”

After starting the year as an AP Top 25 team and the favorite to win the Pac-12 South, UCLA finished with its worst season record since 2010, which is also the last time the Bruins missed a bowl game.

UCLA finished 92nd in the FBS in total offense and 96th in scoring offense after de-emphasizing its ineffective running game later in the season. Replacement starting quarterback Mike Fafaul, a former walk-on, set school records with 70 passes and 40 completions while running a spread offense during a shootout loss to Utah last month.

Polamalu remained the Bruins’ running backs coach this season while also taking over play-calling responsibilities. He later adjusted his sideline duties, saying he didn’t have enough time to give key coaching to running backs Soso Jamabo, Bolu Olorunfunmi and Nate Starks.

Paul Perkins was a 1,000-yard rusher for the Bruins in 2014 and 2015, but UCLA managed just 1,011 total yards rushing this season.

Polamalu was Mazzone’s running backs coach for the previous two seasons at UCLA. He was the offensive coordinator and running backs coach at crosstown rival Southern California from 2010-12 under Lane Kiffin, who called the Trojans’ plays.

Mora is 41-24 in five seasons at UCLA, with two 10-victory seasons and two bowl wins in his first significant college coaching job. The former Falcons and Seahawks head coach had never won fewer than eight games at UCLA before this year.