Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fairchild not expecting to overhaul UVa offense

The Cavaliers' new offensive coordinator has ties to new associate coach Tom O'Brien.

UVa offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild spent last season with the San Diego Chargers.

Associated Press

UVa offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild spent last season with the San Diego Chargers.

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CHARLOTTESVILLE - While the terminology might require some extended learning, Virginia's offensive scheme under new coordinator Steve Fairchild won't represent a drastic change in philosophy.

Predecessor Bill Lazor favored a pro-style offense and "we certainly want to run a pro-style offense," said Fairchild, who met with the Virginia media for the first time Tuesday.

"I haven't looked at every game last year. I don't know what the scheme was. But, on first appearance, it won't be like going into Air Force and changing that [option] offense."

Fairchild most recently was an offensive assistant with the San Diego Chargers after earlier NFL stints as offensive coordinator for Buffalo and St. Louis. Before going to San Diego, he was the head coach at his alma mater, Colorado State, for four years.

Fairchild was with the Chargers for only one year before six-year head coach Norv Turner was fired after a 7-9 season.

"I knew going into San Diego that we had to make the playoffs," Fairchild said. "I knew there was a good chance that might be a one-day deal.

"I was looking to coordinate again and that opportunity presented itself. As I got to visit not only with [UVa coach] Mike [London], but with a lot of people, it became apparent to me that it was the right fit on both ends."

Almost a month before Fairchild was named to replace Lazor, who resigned to become quarterbacks coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cavaliers had named former Boston College and North Carolina State head coach Tom O'Brien as associate head coach for offense.

"I've known Tom O'Brien for a number of years and really have respected what Tom's done," Fairchild said, "so, obviously that's an appealing part of it as well."

Fairchild's connection with O'Brien was through O'Brien's offensive coordinator at N.C. State, Dana Bible.

"Dana and I worked at San Diego State way back then; I believe it was 1986," Fairchild said. "I think [Fairchild and O'Brien] even talked about a job possibility way back when. A few years ago, I visited Tom at N.C. State to pick his brain, so to speak."

Other influences include Mike Martz, Fairchild's boss with the Rams, then known as "the greatest show on turf."

"I knew him when I was in high school," Fairchild said. "We both grew up in San Diego. For a while, arguably, he was the most creative mind in the NFL. He's a big influence on me as a football coach and a big influence out of football. I just had lunch with him a couple of days ago."

One year under Turner was not a loss.

"Norv's probably as good a guy on game day as I've been around," Fairchild said. "You can put in all your game preparation [and] set your game plan, but when things didn't go as planned, Norv was very, very good at flexing his attack."

Fairchild said he has called plays from both the field and press box at both the college and pro levels, but he couldn't say what approach he'll take a UVa.

He looked surprised when asked his preference regarding the quarterback sneak, a play that has not been a favorite of some past UVa coaches and coordinators.

"You like the sneak?" Fairchild asked. "All right, we'll run a sneak. How's that? Mike Martz used to run a 'sucker sneak.'

"He literally would take both guards and pull them and run to the sideline. I thought, 'What a crock this is!' Marc Bulger scored from the like 12-yard line so I quickly became a proponent of the sucker sneak."

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