ARIZONA FOOTBALL

Wildcats build on ‘It’s personal’ mantra; DC Brown had ‘easy decision’

Jan 14, 2021, 1:34 PM
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Head football coach Jedd Fisch has tagged each of his tweets with his Arizona Wildcats’ new mantra: “It’s personal.”

It’s a sound PR move for a football program that has long suffered by struggling to connect with the Tucson and Arizona communities, even failing at times to reach its supporters. While wins and losses will ultimately matter most for the first-year head football coach, Fisch is trying to put his two words into action during this offseason.

He hired Ricky Hunley and Chuck Cecil, two pillars of Arizona’s football history, to his staff. Nearly all of his assistants have a past connection to Fisch from his many stops in college and the NFL.

Now he’s trying to extend the Wildcats’ local reach on the recruiting front. They want to get personal with the state’s high school programs.

Fisch said Thursday that his staff is attempting to reach out to every Arizona high school coach in the next 48 hours. From there, he wants to hold a weekly virtual meeting with an open invitation to those high schools.

Since Fisch was hired in his first head-coaching role, the Wildcats have managed to retain several key players — receivers Jamarye Joiner and Stanley Berryhill among them — who entered the transfer portal after the firing of Kevin Sumlin in December.

Again, not one snap has been taken, but Fisch and his staff are putting in the work to repair broken or non-existent relationships within Arizona’s players, the state’s high school teams, the media and, through that, the Tucson community.

DC Don Brown introduced

The Wildcats introduced defensive coordinator Don Brown and many of Arizona’s assistant coaches on Thursday to present their personal voices to reporters. Again, the team’s mantra was in action.

Brown, the former Michigan Wolverines defensive coordinator, said his decision to join Fisch in Arizona wasn’t a difficult one, even though he’s spent almost all of his career coaching out east.

“Coach Fisch and I share a similar philosophy on how the game should be played. Obviously that’s why I’m here,” Brown said. “He believes in running the football, complementary throw game, but being aggressive and playing through your defense.

“The way I knew this was going to get run, I know that gives us a chance,” Brown added. “Your organization gives you a chance to be successful, and I believe in Jedd. It was a pretty easy decision. I know I’m working for a tremendous football coach, tremendous leader and that allows me to do my job.”

Brown, 65, brings with him an enthusiasm that at one point Thursday had him calming himself down talking football over a Zoom call.

Brown also brings an aggressive style. “Dr. Blitz” might think his nickname is a bit of a reach.

He says he’s blitzed 58-62% of the time over the last few years as DC for Michigan and Boston College. Much of how often he does it depends on his personnel.

But he said the idea that he blitzes so often is also influenced by how much he mixes in exotic looks. Quarterbacks feeling pressure doesn’t always mean five or six players are actually rushing them.

“When you count the raw numbers, it’s really not,” as frequent of a blitzing scheme as people would suggest, Brown said.

Brown promised that his defense would be multiple and that his players will run to the ball with great effort. His job from there, he said, is teaching the players where to be and how to play together.

“That’s the challenge,” Brown said.

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