Mazzone approaches UCLA with clean slate

February, 28, 2012
2/28/12
7:00
PM ET
Noel Mazzone doesn't care how many touchdowns Kevin Prince or Richard Brehaut threw. Or how many Brett Hundley didn't throw, for that matter.

He doesn't care about how many yards Johnathan Franklin ran for, or how many catches Joseph Fauria made or how many holes Greg Capella opened.

He simply doesn't care.

"To me, it's all a clean slate," said UCLA's new offensive coordinator. "I purposely don't spend time studying film from last year. Never mistake potential for performance. Everything is performance-based. All I know -- all I care about -- is what started on Jan. 9 for me. I don't care what you did last season. The question is, are you performing now?"

The Bruins don't open spring ball until April 3. But that doesn't mean Mazzone and new head coach Jim Mora aren't watching, evaluating, making mental notes about who is grinding and who is goofing. Mazzone didn't go so far as to say a culture change is needed at UCLA. Rather, it's an attitude change.

"Whatever school, high school, college, or NFL team you go to, you want to create an attitude," he said. "That's our purpose. We want to create an attitude and find the qualities we're looking for to be a UCLA football player. That's all I concern myself with.

"Be physical. Be fast. And finish. The football plays will take care of themselves. If we can get our kids to play with great tempo and great toughness and learn to finish what they start -- whether it be a play, a drive, in the weight room or in class or whatever they do in life -- if we can get them into that kind of mindset, that's our priority."

Mazzone, a seasoned offensive mind with more than 30 years coaching offense, comes to UCLA after spending the last two seasons with Arizona State, where he was widely credited with turning around the Sun Devils' once anemic offense. In the two years before Mazzone arrived (2008 and 2009), ASU ranked 100th and 90th, respectively, in total offense. In 2010, Mazzone's first year, the Sun Devils improved to 29th. Last season, 25th.

He said UCLA fans can expect a similar scheme.

"It's the only thing I know," he said. "I can't do anything else. I don't know anything else."

Though based on the personnel, the Bruins probably aren't going to be the spitting image of the 2011 Sun Devils. Once UCLA starts up spring ball, Mazzone said he'll have a better idea of which direction the team is going to take schematically.

"My philosophy is I want to get the best players on the football field," he said. "If it happens to be a tight end and two wides and two running backs, that's what it will be. If it's a running back and four wide receivers, that's what it will be. If I'm lucky enough to have good players at several positions, we'll have multiple sets. I just want to get the ball in the playmaker's hands."

And like the majority of the conference, UCLA's future at quarterback isn't set. Sticking to his guns, Mazzone said his decision is not going to be weighted by experience or inexpereince. He has only one preference when picking a quarterback.

"I prefer guys that can score points," he said. "I don't care who it is. I'm not too worried about experience. I'm looking for productivity and the ability to move the football and be a leader for our offense. I don't care if it's a true freshman or a redshirt senior. It really doesn't matter. I'll let them compete and let the best guy that fits that criteria be our guy."

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