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Noel Mazzone brings wealth of Pac-12 experience to Arizona’s coaching staff

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Will the Wildcats’ offense take a jump up in 2018?

@ArizonaFBall

After a successful 2017 season on the offensive side of the ball, the Arizona Wildcats will kind of wipe the board clean with a new offensive coaching staff.

Leading the way is a familiar face in Noel Mazzone, who has been roaming the opposing sideline in Arizona Stadium plenty of times before, but now he’ll move over to the friendly confines of the east side to lead the Wildcats offense.

Mazzone is a pioneer of the one-back spread offense, and has his own website where you can buy his zone read concept and implement it for your team, and even offers year-round support for his product. He is certainly one of the most well-respected offensive coaches in the game right now.

Playing career

Mazzone played quarterback for the New Mexico Lobos from 1975-79 before staying at the school as a grad assistant. UNM went 2-1 against Arizona in that time frame, and Mazzone’s 22 career passing TDs are 8th-most in school history.

He was not an accurate passer, completing just 179 of his 378 attempts for the Lobos, good for a completion percentage of 47.4%. He did run the ball 382 times for 1,262 yards and 11 TDs. His seven rushing TDs in 1976 were the third-most by a WAC player that season.

Coaching career

  • 1980–1981 — New Mexico (GA)
  • 1982–1986 — Colorado State (QB/WR)
  • 1987–1991 — TCU (QB)
  • 1992–1994 — Minnesota (QB)
  • 1995–1998 — Ole Miss (OC/QB)
  • 1999–2001 — Auburn (OC)
  • 2002 — Oregon State (OC)
  • 2003–2004 — NC State (OC/TE)
  • 2005 — Ole Miss (OC/QB)
  • 2006–2008 — New York Jets (WR)
  • 2009 — Panther Creek (North Carolina) HS (OC)
  • 2010–2011 — Arizona State (OC)
  • 2012–2015 -- UCLA (OC)
  • 2016–2017 — Texas A&M (OC)

There is no debating that Mazzone brings with him the kind of experience you want from an offensive coordinator in the Pac-12.

He also has plenty of Pac-12 experience, spending seven years as an offensive coordinator in the conference at three different schools. Combine that with ten years in the SEC and two in the ACC and I’d say you have someone that’s seen it all.

But how good are these offenses? Here’s a list of where he’s ranked in S&P+ each year since 2005 according to Football Outsiders.

*Arizona’s ranking that year in ():

  • 2017 Texas A&M — 49th (8th)
  • 2016 Texas A&M — 29th (61st)
  • 2015 UCLA -- 21st (28th)
  • 2014 UCLA — 11th (32nd)
  • 2013 UCLA — 20th (42nd)
  • 2012 UCLA — 42nd (12th)
  • 2011 ASU — 44th (38th)
  • 2010 ASU —38th (29th)
  • 2005 Ole Miss — 109th (70th)

So Arizona finished higher in S&P+ offensive ratings in five of these nine seasons. The encouraging part is Mazzone’s final three years at UCLA, doing it with two different quarterbacks who are both NFL-caliber in Brett Hundley and Josh Rosen.

And then halfway through this year, Dallas Morning News writer Ben Baby offered up this:

Take a look at the track record. When he was at UCLA, QB Josh Rosen threw for more than 3,600 yards and was dubbed one of college football’s top quarterbacks. In his first year at A&M, Mazzone turned Trevor Knight into a quarterback with accuracy issues into a guy who is currently on an NFL roster. And then there’s freshman quarterback Kellen Mond. Mond, who was 3 of 17 passing against UCLA in the opener, had a better completion percentage and more passing yards than Alabama’s Jalen Hurts last weekend.

Despite all the youth on the team, the Aggies are fourth in the SEC in scoring offense, which is pretty remarkable.

Arguably the most interesting thing for 2018 Arizona football will be how the offense can build off of what it did last year with an almost entirely new staff on that side of the ball. Will Mazzone help Khalil Tate develop into a pro prospect? Will Arizona’s offense churn out yards and points the way it did last year or will it suffer a setback?

That’s what Mazzone faces in his first year in Tucson.

Recruiting footprint

With his extensive coaching history, Mazzone has ties pretty much all over the country. However, he’s going to be focusing on “Phoenix and all quarterbacks” it seems.

Mazzone has already made moves in the quarterback race, extending an Arizona offer to now-formerTexas A&M commit Grant Gunnell, the No. 2 pro-style QB in the 2019 class, pretty much right away. And Arizona added Kevin Doyle on National Signing Day this year, giving Jamarye Joiner a running partner in his class.

Doyle’s high school coaching staff knows Mazzone very well.

“His head coach and I are good friends, and his athletic director,” Mazzone said of the relationship. “They called and we talk all the time anyway and then they’d been sending me his film. And then when this happened and we ended up coming here, you know he had some other schools he was looking at, and then I watched him on film, got a chance to meet him, he came out and visited us and I really liked the kid, so that’s how he ended up here.”

It’s also worth noting that two of Mazzone’s biggest commits have come from IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. So perhaps that’s a school that Arizona tries to get back in with as well.

Quotable

  • “If he doesn’t win the Heisman it’s my fault, right?” - on working with Khalil Tate this year.
  • “I was gonna be cleaning pools in Arizona this year” - joking about what he would have done had Kevin Sumlin not taken this job.

Personal

Mazzone already owned a home in Arizona, so he was going to be moving to the state before Sumlin was named Rich Rodriguez’s successor. I think Mazzone’s ties to the state and his familiarity with everything around Arizona and the conference make him almost the perfect fit as an offensive coordinator at this school at this time.

Arizona Football’s new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone talks spring practice, Khalil Tate, steaks, and more

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Monday, March 26, 2018