Gophers face key decision after losing Fisch

Jedd Fisch's departure from Minnesota is a done deal, as the Seattle Seahawks tabbed him as their new quarterbacks coach earlier Wednesday.

Fisch spent just one season as the Gophers' offensive coordinator, ushering in a dramatically different offensive system that really struggled for most of the season. Minnesota ranked last in the Big Ten in scoring (20.9 points per game), rushing (99.5 yards per game) and total offense (306.5 ypg) in 2009. The Gophers endured two shutout losses (Penn State and Iowa), nearly suffered another one (Ohio State) and went 10 quarters without an offensive touchdown late in the year.

Looking at those numbers, Minnesota shouldn't be too sorry to see Fisch go.

But his departure could create a bigger problem for the Gophers, one summarized well by The Daily Gopher blog. Minnesota now will be looking for its fourth offensive coordinator in five seasons, which is a real burden on its players, particularly quarterback Adam Weber.

You really have to feel for Weber in all of this. He had a strong freshman season in the spread and built on it in 2008, passing for 2,761 yards with 15 touchdowns and eight picks. The switch to Fisch and a pro-style system this fall didn't click with Weber, who clearly regressed. I still think Weber is a heck of a quarterback, and he likely would have improved in Year 2 under Fisch, whose system seemed very complex, perhaps too complex. But I also look at both Weber and backup MarQueis Gray, who will compete for the starting job this spring, and wonder whether both are better suited to the spread offense.

The lack of stability at the offensive coordinator position is a concern for Minnesota going forward, and head coach Tim Brewster faces a big decision with Fisch's replacement. Brewster wants to create continuity in Minneapolis, an objective that should be helped by a contract extension he'll receive any day now.

Brewster also wants to keep the basic structure of the offense in place. He thinks the Gophers will have more of the personnel in place to effectively run this type of system. Bottom line: don't expect Minnesota to go back to the spread.

Replacements? Offensive line coach/run game coordinator Tim Davis is already on staff and would seem like a sensible choice to run a similar system. Then again, Davis has never been a coordinator. Brewster also might take a look at someone like Oklahoma State receivers coach Gunter Brewer, a candidate for the job last year when Fisch got hired. Don't expect Brewster to take on the play-calling duties himself.

Minnesota's staff faces a pivotal season in 2010, and for Brewster, this hire is critical. He made a solid choice last year in tabbing Kevin Cosgrove to run Minnesota's defense, which performed decently for much of the season. Brewster needs similar results on the offensive side.