Mazzone content with the Sun Devil offense

It seems to never fail every year. The performance of one side of the ball in the Spring Game is in sharp contrast to their overall display in the preceding 14 practices. Such was the case with the ASU offense, which is why offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, despite being disappointed in the offense's showing Saturday is pleased with the progress of his group who is working under a new scheme.

"We obviously need more of an influx of wide receivers so we get more depth," Mazzone explained. "But I think the kids from the first day of spring to the last day understand where they need to be, how they are supposed to run routes.

"We had 115 plays today and if you go back and look at them there are moments where everything is clicking, the ball is coming out and the kids are running good routes. And then they get tired for whatever reason, have lack of concentration, focus and bad plays happen. That's what we have to eliminate."

The Spring Game was certainly not a banner day for the ASU offense. The passing game had only one touchdown to show for while committing six interceptions and the rushing game (excluding sacks) mustered just 42 yards on the ground. Nonetheless, Mazzone realizes that the bigger picture is indeed more appealing that Saturday's snapshot.

"We made mistakes and turnovers and that kills any offense," acknowledged Mazzone. "We flashed at time. Made some good plays. The main thing today was that we weren't consistent enough as an offense. We were crisp at times and then we had some bad calls or plays.

"Some days you have bad days but overall in the spring I'm very excited about the direction the offense is headed in."

The quarterback competition was naturally the most anticipated position battle coming into spring and because the tandem of signal callers, Brock Osweiler and Steven Threet, are in a dead heat, this competition will be carried over to fall camp. That fact doesn't pose any concerns for ASU's offensive coordinator.

"They both had their moments," Mazzone said. "I thought Brock made a lot of progression. I thought Steven started strong, hit a little dip and then came back and did very well. I think sometimes they both wanted to do too much instead of just staying within the offense and distributing the ball to where we want it.

"But I'll tell you what; I don't think this football team could be any happier with two guys of that caliber having a competition like this. I think it's a very healthy competition between the two. Whoever comes out of it I think will be a very good quarterback."

Mazzone added that since the beginning of spring Osweiler improved his understanding of the offense, and improved the quickness of his release and his understanding of defenses, while Threet improved on his mechanics.

The running game had to encounter a stout defensive front seven every practice and needless to say it was hampered by the rash of injuries on the offensive line. The Spring Game's performance seemed to reflect the norm for the ground attack all spring, but much like the passing game Mazzone feels that this aspect is in better shape than it showed on Saturday.

"Until today I really have been happy with the running game and all the progress they made in the spring," Mazzone remarked. "I think today was a lackluster effort. The running game isn't just the running backs, it's the wide receivers…it's all of us. It's offensive linemen blocking and quarterbacks making the right decision. We were flat today and didn't pop any big runs like I thought we would."

Keeping in mind that the offense has been running under a new system, Mazzone is pleased with the state of the offense. With just a little over three months away from the beginning of fall camp, ASU's offensive coordinator is excited for the future of this unit.

"Hopefully in the summer these kids continue to work on what they learned in the spring," Mazzone said. "I think what will be amazing is that when we start two-a-days we'll see how much further along we will be than when we started spring ball.

"Right now the players are tired and spring ball is over. But they will obviously be fresher in fall camp, we'll have some new faces and everything will be a lot crisper."


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