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UCLA Bruins Football: How Is Noel Mazzone Faring In Westwood?

UCLA writers from Go Joe Bruin and Punting Is Winning discuss offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, and tougher issues like penalties, the offensive line, and the secondary.

Stephen Dunn

How happy are you with Noel Mazzone? The offense seems to be moving the football, but they're having trouble producing points.

Punting Is Winning: I am content with Noel's spread offense since he has been getting the balls in the hands of our play makers in space, which was physically impossible to do under the previous Pistol offense. However, one thing I can?t stand in our current offensive scheme is the backward swing passes from the shotgun position. We have guys with questionable hands trying to catch a zipping lateral pass while running full stride toward the sideline. It worked against Rice because well? It was RICE! Ever since then it seems as though backward swing passes either resulted in a turn over, a 2 yard gain, or a fumble going out of bounds. I need that play to stop and I need that play to stop immediately.

Carlos Sandoval, Go Joe Bruin: After two games, I was convinced Noel Mazzone was the greatest thing to ever happen to UCLA in the past decade. But then Houston -- the same Houston that let Southern Methodist hang 72 on them -- held UCLA to 320 yards of offense. And then Oregon State created a stagnant offense. And then all of a sudden, we're only beating Colorado 21-7 after two quarters, the offense can't sustain drives against Cal, and then they have a hard time creating favorable offensive situations against Utah.

His playcalling has been a huge worry and I know he's into screens and spreading the field horizontally and whatnot, and I know he's also game-planning around a mediocre offensive line -- they're young, and they've showed it -- by throwing quick passes to the outside, but it's maddening. Running up the middle has all of a sudden become something Mazzone wants to do constantly despite the fact that our line can't get a good push up front. All the while UCLA is throwing screen passes and throwing into the flat to negate being dominated in the trenches, but why hasn't Mazzone tried throwing quick routes down the middle?
There's questions here, and though I have faith that Mazzone will figure it out, I also feel like he's taking a tad too long to do so.

What is the most disappointing aspect of the Bruins so far this season?

Punting Is Winning: Nothing has been a disappointment so far for me. Well, I guess if I had to pick one thing that has been a bit of a letdown this season, it would be the play of Steven Manfro. Steven had so much hype coming into the season due to his performances in scrimmages and practices, that he was actually labeled as ?white mamba? by some bruin fans. Well that label turned out to be pretty damn accurate because so far, Manfro has been catching punts like a reptile without arms. Oy vey. But I still love the Fro.

Disappointing? Nothing. Nothing this team has done was unexpected and thus, disappointing. There are things this team is awful at, though.

Carlos Sandoval, Go Joe Bruin: The secondary, for one, was something everyone was worried about preseason, although at the time, it was more of a depth issue than a Sheldon-Price-and-Aaron-Hester-are-the-worst issue. That's proven to be a liability and the defensive line has to shoulder the load to make up for the corners' ineptitude.
The offensive line is another thing, but when you're starting Torian White (freshman), Simon Goines (freshman), Xavier Su'a-Filo (sophomore coming off a two-year mission), and Jake Brendel (freshman), that's expected. They're actually performing slightly above expectations, but they're still not brilliant at all and the offense has to work around them.

The penalties are somehow still existant and I might've been the only one that expected them to continue. They're really dumb penalties, and I don't want to excuse them for youth, but I want to see if they're going to be prone to penalties all season or if this is just a phase.