LOS ANGELES -- Noel Mazzone has a pretty nasty changeup.
UCLA's offensive coordinator doesn't like to use it much, preferring his offense to go fast, faster or fastest, but on days such as last Saturday, he'll change up the pace in a strategic move.
Going into last week's 21-14 victory over Utah, the Bruins had been averaging 82.6 plays per game, or one every 22.64 seconds. Injuries required the Bruins to start seven freshmen on offense against the Utes so Mazzone figured he'd be better off slowing down the pace.
UCLA ran a season-low 68 plays, averaging one every 27.7 seconds.
"We kind of slowed it down on purpose last week because we had so many new guys in there," Mazzone said. "I don't using freshmen, but when you have seven of them running around out there at the same time it worries me."
The slowdown had an impact on UCLA's offensive numbers. The Bruins were averaging 33.5 points and 529 yards in total offense before that game, but scored 21 and had a season-low 354 yards. The play calling went more conservative as well, with 47 runs and a season-low 21 pass attempts.
"I actually called three runs in a row down in the red zone inside the five which is like a first for me, ever," Mazzone said. "Lightning didn't strike me or anything."
Injuries to receivers Darius Bell and Devin Lucien have forced true freshmen Jordan Payton and Kenneth Walker into starting roles without as much practice time. The result was a season-low 183 yards passing for quarterback Brett Hundley, more than 100 yards below his season average before the game.
Mazzone said he doesn't like to get in defensive battles like that, but did what he had to in that game.
"By nature I'm not a conservative guy," he said. "But you're going to have games like that during the course of a season. Everybody does. We just kind of played a little closer to the vest than I usually like to but it's always about the end result anyway. We didn't score as many points or have as many yards but we won."
Ideally, Mazzone said, he’d like to be running a play every 15 or 20 seconds, much like Oregon does. The Bruins have gotten there only once this season, running a play every 19.4 seconds two weeks ago at Colorado.
Whether the Bruins will match that this season depends on the development of the younger players.
"We're always looking to go faster," Mazzone said. "But it doesn't bother me if we have to go slower. The only thing that bothers me is if we don't have more points than them."