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: I’ve spoken to players at Oregon, and they’ve said the system doesn’t allow for second-guessing or losing confidence. Is that the tone you’re trying to set?
Noel Mazzone: “That’s our whole thing. Play the next play. What happened the last play has no affect on the play that’s coming up. We’re not going to sit around and mope about it or cheer about it, get pissed about it. It freakin’ happened. Go to the next one. That’s why I call another play so fast. If you watch the Oregons, the Houstons, the Oklahoma States, the West Virginias, the ASU’s of the world, there’s a lot of times where guys aren’t blocked, it just doesn’t happen, because you’re playing at such a pace.”
JG: How do you go about breaking those bad habits that come from an offense so dissimilar to yours?
Mazzone: “I believe this about coaching – you get what you coach for. If you want a methodical, in the huddle … and there’s nothing wrong with it, there’s tons of different ways about to move the football; this is by no means cornering the offensive football. Hell, 60 percent of what I’ve got I stole from somebody anyway, that’s how football is. You look at Stanford, great example. That’s a pound it, huddle, ball control offense and have they had a little success? It’s the style you play, no matter if you’re the Stanfords or the Oregons, that’s what you coach for, to have that personality as an offense. These are 18 to 21-year-old kids, and if they buy in, that’s what we’ll have. I honestly don’t even really that in my mind of what was here before. We live our life like that. We play the next play. It’s right at the moment.”
JG: How important is the confidence thing to you?
Mazzone: “What does the old guy say, success begets success. If I want you to be confident in something, the things you’re confident in in your own life, they are facts. They’re things you know. I know this for a fact. I’m confident about this. That’s our whole philosophy. That’s why it’s not a high-volume offense. We may run the same four plays for six weeks. I don’t care. But I know one thing: We’re going to know those six plays or those four plays or those 20 plays. From there it builds confidence. When you start having success with something, you develop confidence.”
JG: I’m always interested in how a staff comes together, and having a common voice and a common purpose, even sounding alike. That has not been the case for a few years now. This staff seems a pretty quick study in chemistry; how does that translate from recruiting to on the field come April?
Mazzone: “Any football team is an extension of the head guy. Every football team and staff, the successful ones, will take on the personality of the coach. What’s important to coach Mora will be important to us. If it’s important to coach Mora and to us, it’s going to be important to the football team. That’s what you want. You want everybody in the same bus. If we’re on the train, we don’t want to be in different cars. That’s been the neatest thing for me. I’ve been doing this for a while, and I’ve had a chance to coach around for some good head coaches, I’ve been around a lot of great football coaches, and I agree with you completely about the quickness of this. That’s all on coach Mora. That’s been really the thing that has me fired up. I’m really fired up to coach on his football team. Sometimes you hit those moments where everything falls into place. A lot of us knew each other from before, but when everybody has the same common thread running through them, it’s easy to weave this fabric.”