Throughout the week, I’ll be bringing you some of the opening words from the new UCLA assistant coaches. A very energetic group, with a common purpose. We’ll continue with new UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, who came to the Bruins from Arizona State.
Jon Gold: Do you have a good feel for the guys on UCLA’s roster or will you learn about them more from their play on the field?
Noel Mazzone: “That’s the way I like it anyway. I have no preconceived notions on any of these guys. I kind of like it that way. Everyone starts with a clean slate. Life is performance-based. I don’t want to watch 11 games on a guy and say he can’t do this or that. I don’t do a lot of time watching that – I’ll go through it real quick.”
JG: How familiar were you with UCLA’s offense last season?
Mazzone: “I really don’t concern myself with what they had done before, what kind of offense they ran. They did a lot of good things in the offense before. I really don’t go look at their stats, what they rushed for, what they threw for. That offense has won a lot of football games for some football teams. Whatever happened with the past offense really has no bearing in my mind of where we’re going from here.”
JG: When you inherit a program, there’s this idea of putting your stamp on it. Making it your own. How quick of a process can that be? Do you want it to be?
Mazzone:”First of all, we’re not a volume offense. That helps. A couple things: We want to play fast. We’re a no-huddle offense. More things we have to think about the more it slows us down, in my mind. We’re a pretty simple offense, really. I want to be able to play fast, I want to be able to create space for playmakers and I want to put the ball in the right guy’s hands. That’s my job as the offensive coordinator.”
JG: The Pistol offense was so methodical, so plodding, almost like chess. I do this now so I can do this later. You watch Oregon, and it doesn’t seem like a lot of chess. It’s boom, boom, boom, the defense is on its heels…
Mazzone: “I always think this and I’ve been in those situations before, so I’m a firm believer I don’t want to play defense on offense. I want to play offense on offense. I’m going to let the defense dictate to me what I can and can’t do. Now I’m playing defense. ‘Oh, I can’t call that one because the defense ‘might’ do this. You know what? I don’t really care. This is what we do, we’re going do it as fast as we can. We’re a big play the next play team.
The other thing is, you don’t inherit an attitude in my mind, you create an attitude. We want to play fast, put the ball in our playmaker’s hands, want to be tough and we want to play the next play. That’s going to be our motto. Problems are going to arise, but this is more of a build offense. I want to be able to fix the problems within the parameters of this offense.
You know what? Come on. Calling plays is easy. Calling plays is calling plays. A lot of time, that get’s overrated. There’s going to be a handful of times in a game where the decision you make as a playcaller is going to matter. Some of the best plays I ever called, some of the best plays that turned out, were probably some of the worst I could’ve called in that situation.
I really want our guys to take ownership of what we’re doing. The more I involve more people, the more they have fun – I still believe a game should have some fun to it – the better they’re going to practice and the better they’re go to play.”