Mazzone optimistic about offense

Rebel Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone gave the Ole Miss offense a thumbs-up for the spring and the Red-Blue Game, which the Blue Team won 27-21. He talked to us after he had soaked in the Grove Bowl results.

After 15 practices, the installation of a new offense and a 27-21 Grove Bowl game, Ole Miss Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone saw some good things, saw some things that need continued work and saw some things he was not happy with.

"I thought we had a pretty good day today, all things considered," said Mazzone. "I have to take into account we are only 15 practices into putting in a new offense, but that aside we made some plays all spring and today in the game.

"I want to see us take care of the ball better and to cut down on our penalties, but our execution has been pretty good overall. Today (in the Red-Blue Game), we didn't make great decisions when we broke out of the pocket sometimes. A couple of times (QB) Micheal (Spurlock) threw when he had an open field to run and ran when he had a receiver open, but those are things we can work on. On the Red Team (Mazzone coached the Blue Team) I thought Ethan (Flatt) had a good, solid day. He made good decisions and was in control of the offense. Obviously, I wish Robert Lane could have played (out with a shoulder injury), but overall I thought our two QBs were pretty good - again, all things considered. As they get more and more comfortable in the system, they will fine-tune some of the things they are now struggling mentally with."

Mazzone called the plays for the Blue Team. OL Coach George DeLeone called the Red Team plays.

"I was focusing more on the passing game today with the Blue Team. George was focusing more on the running game. He called a nice game for the Red Team offense," Mazzone continued. "He's been an offensive coordinator for a long time and has really done a nice job in the running game. He has a feel for calling running game plays, and that showed today. From a passing game standpoint, I thought we had receivers running open a lot, and they did a nice job of catching the ball when it was thrown to them, but I thought we had too many pressures from both defensive lines today.

"We've got some things to shore up in our offensive line, but we have time to get that done."

Mazzone was hoping for more out of the running game on the Blue offense, which was going against the number one defense.

"We didn't establish much aginst the number one defense, but they have been pretty good all spring. I think our defense is going to be real good in the fall, especially when we get (DT) McKinley (Boykin) back, but we still need to do better as an offense up front in the running game," Noel explained. "Every defense in the SEC will be salty up front and we need to get better prepared for that challenge from our front guys. George does a great job with the OL, but we still have personnel work to do."

Mazzone said matter-of-factly that "nothing major is wrong" at this point in the offense's development.

"Yes, we'd like some things to be better, but for 15 practices I have no major complaints. The quarterbacks are a work in progress, but they are fast learners and have made a lot of progress in the system and in their fundamentals. Our running backs have been very solid. Our receivers need to gain some consistency, but I know the talent is there," he closed. "As I said, our offensive line needs work, but there's time to do it and we think we are going to get an influx of two or three players who can help us in fall.

"I'll be anxious to get Lane healthy, get Andrew Wicker healthy and get two or three of our signess in here. Offensively, we need some pieces of the puzzle to fall for us, but at least we have the pieces and we know what the puzzle is."

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