Noel Mazzone talks about the offense:
Q: here with Coach Noel Mazzone [Offensive Coordinator], Mazzone the elder.
NM: the elder.
Q: the elder. The brains of the operation.
NM: it's Yoda.
Q: yeah, pretty much.
NM: yes. "Luke, I'm your father."
Q: so how's the second spring?
NM: it's been fun. I mean it really has because it's been more… Not as frustrating because a lot of the things, the kids know they under… it's like anything, right?
NM: you know, it's like, you know, second year of dating is a lot easier than the first year of dating, right? But no, it's been fun. Brett [Hundley]. You get a chance to work with some young guys. Some young guys are getting in there and jumping in there and helping out. Being able to escalate the offense a little bit quicker than we did last year.
Q: is there… is there an element in there where you can add wrinkles to it? Like you can add a little bit more to it?
NM: yeah, and that's where we're at right now. We're able for Brett to kind of understand the things with the receivers where he can make the little adjustments in the play that really helps the whole offense.
Q: do you feel like you kind of do that now and then you got to bring in a bunch of freshmen in the fall and try to get them all incorporated all of a sudden with the basics again?
NM: no because I feel good. Really, the only places… I think the O-line's going to have to. But as far as the skill spots, there's a couple guys that are going to come in and probably give us some depth there. But we have a pretty solid receiving group right now.
Q: so Brett. How is that Hundley kid doing? How is he developing, do you think?
NM: which one is he again?
Q: he's… I think the tall one.
NM: what's his number?
Q: 1-7. Something like that.
NM: oh, 17. He's doing alright, you know. He gets a little big for his britches now because now he has all the answers. So now I have two of them. I got Taylor [Mazzone] and him. They both have all the answers. So like, they don't even need me.
Q: so you just back away.
NM: yeah, they don't even need me anymore.
Q: I mean, so obviously, one of the big things for this spring was kind of figuring out who the running back will be. Who the starting running back will be. I mean, have you gotten any clarity in the situation so far?
NM: I mean, I really like Jordon [James]. I think he's had a solid spring. I think Paul [Perkins] has, you know, has looked like a freshman at times but he's obviously got, you know, the physical tools to do that and be a guy that can help us. And let's not forget. We don't have [Steven] Manfro and Thiggy [Damien Thigpen], you know, because they haven't been here this spring. And then I'm really happy with how Malcolm [Jones] has come from the first day until right now. He's come in here with kind of a lot of focus. A little bit on a mission which is cool. He looks a little faster to me. So, you know, I'm excited about that group. Like I was telling the guys the other day, "We don't have the Mayor anymore, alright? So we're like, we're going to be running back by Congress. " it's where we decided.
Q: I mean, were you shocked that Malcolm came in, in as good shape as he was, considering he was out for that long?
NM: yeah, it was. If I had sat out for six months, I'd weigh about 280 right now. No, he's come back with a great attitude. And just whatever he can do to help us. He's really had a good spring. I'm excited about it.
Q: so that offensive line… I mean, obviously, there's been some movement on that offensive line, just trying to find a good combination this spring. I mean, how much of it is just kind of trying to find a stopgap so you can get to the fall and…
NM: yeah, a lot of it is right now. You know, we're having to move guys around just for lack of depth. I think we went through today with about 5 or 6 of them. It's really hard to get any continuity in a group when all of a sudden X [Xavier Su'a-Filo] is playing guard, then he's playing tackle, then he's playing left guard, right tackle, and he's playing all these spots and we have to move guys around. Like I was looking at it this way, right now, we're playing like 5 pennies. Not like a nickel. And it was basically so the rest of the team could get work. I'm happy with Torian [White] this spring. I think he's really probably progressed the most out of that group.
Q: and physically too.
NM: yeah, I mean, he's really just becoming a different guy. Simon [Goines] has been a little nicked up. You know, Ben [Wysocki] and Kody [Innes] and those kids have stepped in and got a lot of quality reps. I think it's a nice group. To get an influx of those kids coming in, I think, in the long run, it'll be really good.
Q: I mean, it has to, to a certain extent, but how much does it kind of inhibit what you want to do in the spring?
NM: of course it does. But we've got all fall camp. I've only got two plays. So, it can't be that hard to learn, right?
Q: just swing left, swing right, right?
NM: yeah, run right. Run left. That's it.
Q: I mean, you set a bunch of records. A bunch of offensive records last year.
NM: we did?
Q: no big deal. I think you cited them a few times. Like 21 or something like that.
Q: yeah, 23. Sorry. Who's counting?
NM: who's counting?
Q: who's counting, right? I mean, do you think there's still a lot of upside potential to this offense in terms of what it can do? Just, you know, In terms of statistics? In terms of everything?
NM: you know what's funny? Offensive guys are all kind of like this. We try to act like we try not to be that guy that the first thing we do Sunday morning is go on ESPN stats and see where we stand.
Q: but you do.
NM: but I do it anyway. You know, I don't tell anybody I do that. But yeah, I think that I would hope that from year one to year two in an offense, any offense, I don't care what offense or who's running it or whatever, that you should see improvement. There should be a little bit of exponential growth there. And there's no reason to think that this group shouldn't be that same way. You know, they understand things a little bit more. They can play a little faster. We can add a few things that we never got to just because we work a fairly simple offense anyway. It's really a fun group. I think that it's the first time in awhile that I had a quarterback play in this offense for two years. As a two-year starter in this offense. It's been awhile. So I'm anxious to see how far Brett can take this thing. Like I said, it's up to them. All I do is call a few plays. Those guys have to make it go.
Q: so one last thing. I mean, backup quarterback. I think that's the thing that's still kind of written in the water. I mean, who have you seen… what have you seen from those guys and who do you think is kind of rising to the top, if anyone?
NM: alright so all three of those guys, Jerry [Neuheisel], T.J. [Millweard], and [Mike] Fafaul… they all flash, alright? They all flash and you get excited. And then, you know, a practice later, you're like, you want to choke them, okay? So that's the good thing, alright? The bad thing is now, they need to be a lot more consistent. So they're not unlike a lot like what Brett was a year ago. It's their first time in it. It's a high maintenance offense for a quarterback. He's making a lot of split-second decisions with every snap. So it's just repetition. They've all shown those flashes that they can do the job. now, they just have to become comfortable enough in the system.
Q: right on.
VIDEO: Mazzone Talks Offense
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