UCLA Football: Noel Mazzone Tries To Restore The Roar In Bruins Offense

If there's any glaring deficiency you can point out in the UCLA Bruins the past few season, it almost always starts and ends with their offense. The Norm Chow offense never had a chance to work with the quarterback disasters that surfaced every spring. The Pistol took nearly a year and a half to churn into life, but the results were only occasionally strong while usually abhorrent. Kevin Craft, Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut

The Bruins offense was a trainwreck encased in quicksand during the Rick Neuheisel era, a strange mix of short succesful plays followed by one occasional deep throw followed by screens and runs up the middle and punts. Such glorious punts.

Enter Noel Mazzone, new UCLA offensive coordinator.

Mazzone might be suited for the athletic but ill-prepared Bruins squad. The offensive playbook the past few seasons always seemed to rely on slow-developing plays, and the obvious consequence was the Bruins looking like a slow football team. Jim Mora did the smart thing and brought in an offensive coordinator who installed an offense that relied on the exact opposite type of plays.

Mazzone's offense relies far more on a read-and-react system. Put one running back in the backfield, spread out everyone else, and make the defenders guard the entire field. UCLA's offense always seemed either bunched together (allowing defenses to box in) or oddly spaced (leaving everyone a little bit out of rhythm). That should be eliminated in Mazzone's system, where everyone will be drilled right into knowing where they should be on the field and their purposes on it.

Additionally, UCLA will now be able to ditch the full-out Pistol scheme (a nice offense at times but has its limits against solid Division I defenses) for a more diversified spread attack. The Bruins can now try to force defenders to make mistakes (whether not covering the zone read, or where one of the linebackers is placed on the play), then attack them (as opposed to their current approach, which is sit back and wait for something to develop, or run straight inside/outside and hope no one's there to knock you out).

This could be a valuable system for a quarterback like Prince (and further down the line, Brett Hundley) to thrive in. Mazzone helped tutor Phillip Rivers at NC State and Tim Tebow at his Senior Bowl, and most recently made Brock Osweiler one of the conference's most productive quarterbacks. That has to give guys like Hundley hope that they can not only master the offense, but showcase the potential to be a big-time QB down the line. It could also be a compelling story to sell to young West Coast quarterbacks who are looking to play in LA, but find out that USC is a little too stacked for them.

With Mazzone, the Bruins can at least hope that a return to respectability is on its way. And even if it isn't great, it has to be better than dealing with punt-a-looza all over again.

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